Stella Thayer didn’t make it to the post-race dancefest at Siro’s beer tent. She probably had to rush home to squeeze into her blue jeans for the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame’s “Ride the (mechanical) Bull” party.
Nevertheless, the gathering at Siro’s was wall-to-wall. The three-day fly-mating season was over, and the cigar smoke was keeping whatever bugs were left off the premises. An eclectic collection of rock ‘n rollers were there to boogie to The Accents, eat pizza and clams, and toast the conclusion of a sensational afternoon of racing at the racecourse next door.
It may have been the first Saturday in nearly a century that a significant stakes didn’t grace the program. But 31,497 fans jammed the track’s hallowed grounds to bet a whopping $5.2 million. There were no give-aways. Top jocks Velasquez, Desormeaux and Albarado left town for the Arlington Million. Despite hand-rolled cigars and barbershop quartets, most people didn’t even realize it was “Tradition Turns 140” day. That’s how far pure competition in a unique setting can take the sport.
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, with two showy winners on the day, started things off with a bang in the second. Eibar Coa, aboard Flying Pirate, looked to be caught at the eighth pole, yet the jock wouldn’t give up on the 2-year-old son of Fusaichi Pegasus third-time starter until he broke his maiden.
In the fourth race – the $102,500 James Marvin Stakes, Ramon Dominguez followed suit with Eternal Star. The 4-year-old chestnut with a penchant for winning posted a time of 1:08.79. Good away from New York, but only so-so at Aqueduct, he was mighty good at Saratoga.
Dr. D.F.C. rewarded trainer Rodrigo Ubillo and jockey Aldo Arboleda, two men who seldom get their photos in the winner’s circle taken, with a nifty photo for winning the $102,500 Solomon Northrop Stakes for New York-breds. Ariege captured the $102,500 Madame Jumel Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Mr. Sidney, a $3.9 million Storm Cat 4-year-old colt, broke his maiden for Bill Mott in the nightcap.
Then there was the front-running score by favored Fairbanks in the $111,750 Duke of Magenta Stakes. Richie Migliore hasn’t found many mounts at the Spa since moving his tack here from California. Yet, the way he rode the Giant Causeway horse for Team Valor and trainer Todd Pletcher suggests more rides in store for him.
To NYRA’s credit, the four scheduled turf races were left on the turf, despite the storm on Friday. This decision kept large fields intact and gave handicappers a lot of choices to wager on.
On Thursday, the new head of the state’s Racing and Wagering Board took an unfair shot at NYRA for neglecting the fans. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. This was more bull than anyone could ride