Out with the Up-and-Overs

By Vic Zast

Inclement weather is wreaking havoc with Saratoga.  Yesterday, two men in tights from the New York City Ballet called off their trophy presentation to the winners of the third race because the rain would have ruined their costumes.  Tonight, the trainers opted out of their softball game against the Saratoga Springs police force because the field was too waterlogged to play. Horseplayers are hating it.

Even the information booth outside of the main entrance is an island surrounded by a 15 foot moat.  You have to shout your questions to the guy manning it from a distance or get your shins soaked.  Capital OTB must be reaping a real bonanza.  Who wants to sit in the mud with the rain falling down?

Obviously, some people do. A crowd of more than 10,000 people believed that the rain clouds would pass and by the third race they did.  But the third race was the second and the second was the first - that's the kind of day it was. Nevertheless, almost $2 million was bet at the track.  It would have been more had there not been only nine races to wager on.

NYRA cards a steeplechase race as the first race each Thursday.  This Thursday, there was no "up-and-over" for anyone.  The rain-soaked sod, although safe for the horses and jockeys, required relief from the beating it would take from the animal's sinking hooves.

"We're 30 feet off the rail, so we'd cause no damage to the regular course, and yes, it's very unusual to get called off," said William Gallo, director of racing for the National Steeplechase Association. "But we understand that NYRA must protect its turf courses. We're delighted to have the race rescheduled for next Wednesday," he said.

Rescheduling is what several horses that were entered but not raced on Thursday must do. In particular, it was a big disappointment to have three horses in the seven horse field for the 94th Sanford Stakes (gr. 2) scratch.  The $150,000 race for two-year-olds lost Notonthesamepage, its pre-race favorite. Desert Party, a $2.1 million yearling purchase by Darley, won. Desert Party has now triumphed on two tracks - one synthetic, one sloppy.  Next, the Hopeful?
By the way, Notonthesamepage is trained by Wesley Ward and was going to be ridden by Elvis Trujillo.  This duo appeared headed for a banner day with winners in the second (really the first) and fourth (really the third) races, and a close second in the sixth (really the fifth).  They then finished last in the eighth (make that seventh) and second last in the tenth (make that ninth).

Prepping for the Travers, Visionaire, closing inside the leaders under Allan Garcia, won a sprint. Kent Desormeaux had three losing mounts. In the twilight of Friday, the Big Brown man should lift his 4,999 career win total to 5000.

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