Racetrack representatives are passing out rainbow-arced lapel pins to people who register in NYRA Nation, the new data-based marketing initiative aimed to co-op fans in the struggle to make horse racing in New York relevant.
But the pins are as useless to a racetracker without a lapel as a stadium cushion without an imprint of “Saratoga” is to a spinner who sells the Sunday give-aways on eBay.
This Sunday’s give-away was a long-sleeved tee-shirt with a scene of Saratoga screened on the front and the name of the sponsor, Adirondack Trust Bank, positioned on the back. The tee-shirt fits every entrepreneur’s requirement. A popular style, an appropriate message and, at three bucks a pop, a worthwhile investment.
Was the give-away why track management reported attendance of 65,598? Or did another sunny day have something to do with it, too? Those spinners don’t bet, and yet, $4.5 million was pushed through the windows. Here’s what is known. If that same tee-shirt was offered at Belmont Park, the numbers would have been half, make that a third.
Speaking of numbers, a $525,000 yearling named Amanwella was the public’s choice to win the second race. But the Phipps Stable’s Persistently, after running near the rear and swinging wide on the far turn, made up a ton of ground to catch her. Persistently’s time wasn’t eye-popping, but the 2-year-old Smoke Glacken filly proved unequivocally that she’s deserving of her given name.
In the third, a quintet of lightly-raced horses fought it out in a 1 1/8 mile contest on the main track. Godolphin’s Numaany, a colt that trailed the winners of his last two races by a combined total of 52 3/4 lengths, didn’t seem to have trouble with non-winners of two lifetime. Javier Castellano wore the Shiekh’s royal blue colors.
In winning the sixth race, Valtrus began a streak of five straight turf races to end the card. The fourth of these was considered the feature. The $80,000 John’s Call Stakes, restricted to runners that have not won a graded stakes in 2008, was won by Summer Patriot. Four wide on the turn, Eibar Coa directed the 4-year-old son of Unbridled’s Song to victory in the 1 5/8 mile test.
As a yearling, John’s Call was purchased by trainer Tom Voss for $8,000 by mistake. Voss thought he was training a horse named Stuart’s Affair, until he learned from the lip tattoo that it wasn’t. Stuart’s Affair never ran in a race, but John’s Call won 13 times, placed second 11 times and twice third in 31 starts. A gelding, he won the Sword Dancer Invitational at age 9.
Coincidentally, it was Voss who greeted Stepaside in the winner’s circle after the race that preceded the John’s Call.