Everything from Arrrrr to Z-z-z-z-z-z

Monday was the last day of the first week of racing. Despite rare sunny weather with low humidity, the track was a ghost town.  NYRA reported attendance of only 10,695.  In the absence of attention, two jockeys -- Mike Luzzi and Channing Hill –- excelled.

Luzzi booted home two of the first four winners on the 10-race card. His first winner was a delight for the dedicated because of the stretch call he got from Tom Durkin.  A 4-year-old gelding named Arrrrr broke his maiden in the second race beneath Luzzi, and Durkin, sounding just like a pirate with a parrot on his shoulder, gave Arrrrr a rousing, repetitive roll of the Rs,.

Luzzi’s second winner gave Durkin little reason to mug into the microphone, and so the announcer didn’t.  Cagey Girl, a daughter of Crowd Pleaser, was a crowd pleaser indeed, paying $47.60 to win.  She beat home a large field of New York-foaled optional claimers and non-winners other than two races over 1 1/16 miles of yielding turf.

Victorious longshots were in evidence nearly every race, including the finale – a turf route which was switched to dirt that enabled Royal Skip, with Jose Espinoza aboard, to win at 13-1.

The aforementioned Hill was responsible for two upsets. In the sixth race, he brought Unflagging, a 4-year-old first-timer, in at $62.50.  Hill also piloted Over Forli, a Chilean-bred that paid $41.20, to a Lillian Russell Stakes triumph 60 minutes later.

Nevertheless, form came around for the feature.  In the $150,000 Amsterdam (gr. II), Kodiak Kowboy, the second choice, beat Desert Key, the favorite, in a thrilling stretch duel.  Ridden by Gabriel Saez and trained by Larry Jones, Kodiak Kowboy had a history of success on his side. He took the Saratoga Special (gr. II) as a 2-year-old when trained by Steve Asmussen.

Even though the first week’s racing was spectacular, true Saratoga-lovers believe that Saratoga doesn’t really kick in until August.  But this Wednesday, July 30, horseman Cot Campbell will jump the gun by launching the social season.  Campbell’s Dogwood Stables will honor Vinnie Garibaldi, an 81-year-old Ocala farmhand, with the Dogwood Dominion Award, presented annually to an “unsung hero, at a Reading Room luncheon.

Later that same day, Marylou Whitney’s favorite charity – the Saratoga Hospital – hosts its customary benefit at The Lodge, an August-only spot that sits right across the street from Sheikh Mohammed’s. Marylou has certainly been busy.  She’s a trouper.  Her spectacular gala will have an Asian theme this summer.  It’ll force fancy people out of the bars this Friday evening.

Before any of these good times commence, there’ll be a marathon blah-blah-blah about synthetic racetracks at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion on the dark day.  The first panel chimes in at 9 am.  The last one leaves the stage eight bells later. Z-z-z-z-z-z.


Leave a Comment:


Arrrrr's race was exciting, to see him finally break his maiden. I have been waiting for Arrrrr to do this for a while now hehe. Durkin  helped too.

I enjoy reading your posts, keep it up.

29 Jul 2008 9:07 AM

Durkin is classic. Love listening to him when he calls names like Arrr. I think you may see a grown man cry if they change the Spa, maybe more than just one. 10,000 is bad by Saratoga standards but being a gambler I would wager that most tracks would love to see that.  Ms. Mary Lou will be arriving by rickshaw at her gala I read. I know last year she showed up by dog sled. She's quite the lady.

29 Jul 2008 9:49 AM
Mike Allen

It's fun to read through a description the "pirate" Arrrr's maiden mixed in with a recount of how Mary Lou's charity antics will bring the fancy pants out of the bars. Keep it up Vic!

29 Jul 2008 10:22 AM

Wasn't Arrrrr great! I was so glad he won,And Tom Durkin did a good Arrrrr call this time. I hope he does well in his romps.They should start calling him "Arrrrr! The Pirate on the track" You know people should pay more attention to the horses running all the time.

29 Jul 2008 10:35 AM

Sunday morning I was bracing for the "giveway crowd" as it was hat day. But they never came. In the backyard, it appeared to be the lowest attendance for a hat giveaway this century. The economy and gas prices could be the problem.

29 Jul 2008 12:34 PM

I was there on Friday- and it DIDN'T rain- and was surprised at how empty the clubhouse was. And we were even able to get a 7:30 dinner reservation, despite (or because of??) the festival downtown!! I guess a lot of people were gearing up for Saturday's races. I had to pick between the two, and though I missed some real superstars Saturday, can't say that I'm too upset that I missed the rain, although it was rather brief. I agree with your August only comment though, it still feels really strange to me to walk through the gates in July.

29 Jul 2008 1:30 PM

Are organizers of the Breeders' Cup paying attention?  The economy and gas prices are a problem.  Yet, prices at the Breeders' Cup go up, up.  Before my great Breeders'Cup memories, there are memories of The Marlboro Cup and JC Gold Cup, under golden autumn foliage, and chilly Washington D.C. International runnings.  We could see champions crowned, for the cost of general admission.  Remember the pre-Breeders' Cup prestige of the Laurel Futurity?

29 Jul 2008 1:53 PM
Loretta loves racing

Nothing beats the magic of Saratoga.  What a privilege to see all those magnificent horses, the pagentry and the history of Saratoga Springs all wrapped up into one day of racing...plus the pirate (Arrrrrrrr) who stole the act in the second race was the icing on the cake! All ages love racing when it's so much fun.

29 Jul 2008 1:59 PM

A bad day at the Spa is better than a good day elsewhere. Spent the first five days at the meet there and had a blast as always. Back for both Travers and Labour Day weekends and hope to sneak in another one or two day visits in between.

29 Jul 2008 4:24 PM
Matty Nuzz

Woah is me. I am part owner to a filly who was scheduled to run at Monmouth last week in a stake but it got cancelled. Now we are running in a 100k overnight next weekend the 9th. All hotels are booked. Where is the best place to stay. I have never been to the Spa, and I feel that since I have a horse running I must go.

30 Jul 2008 1:01 PM

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