One of the several ways in which NYRA has made this the best
in recent history is the way it changed the racing calendar to accommodate the
interests of others.
For example, the placement of the Whitney Stakes on the
second weekend helped the Fasig-Tipton Festival of Racing to emerge as a
fan-accessible complement to the industry-focused yearling sales. Friday's National Museum of Racing Hall of
Fame Stakes launched a Sword Dancer Invitational weekend that made events like
the Hall of Fame induction ceremony and Museum Ball a noteworthy total entity.
The lure of Saratoga
isn't just nine or ten Thoroughbred races in a beautiful setting. It's about immersing yourself in a sport in
the myriad ways that the sport is able to interest you. For some it's the gambling, for others the
socializing, for many the traditions. Those in charge are acting wisely to
The pressures that come from making an immediate buck often
lead to decisions that fail to consider the future. But this one - to move things around so that
each weekend represents its own identity - seems like a move that is good for today,
will be good for tomorrow and would satisfy everyone until the end of the
The Chicago-based Telling, trained by Steve Hobby, won the $500,000
grade I Sword Dancer Invitational - a 1 1/2 miles test on the inner turf
course. The 5-year-old A.P. Indy horse
was 33-1 in the mutuels and keyed an $80,000 superfecta that only people born
on Independence Day 16 years ago collected. Better Talk Now, a 10-year-old
gelded vet in his 51st start, finished second.
Those people betting favorites went pretty much blanked. Beginning with the third race, individual
winners paid $15.40, $14.00, $8.10, $51.50, $57.50, $18.80, $14.00, $68.00 and
$8.40. No exacta paid less than
$56.00. Most were in triple digits. Once
the gamblers realized that form was a false indicator, they should have cashed
tickets quickly. Instead, picking
winners became harder and harder. Even when the experts were able to select the
first horse to cross the finish line, a surprise horse finished second.
Artistically, nothing surpassed Marylou Whitney, adorned in
a flattering hat, in the winner's circle following the eighth. D. Wayne Lukas
astutely dropped her Ninth Client into a claiming race and the Malibu Moon
gelding triumphed. Kudos to Rajiv
Maragh, the rider; Maragh won the ninth on Expansion, too.
Liston, a dark bay colt owned by Darley became the third
Storm Cat descendant to win at the Spa in the last couple days when he beat
WinStar's Chief Counsel in the second.
Speaking of Storm Cats, after Sheikh Mohammed doled out $2.8 million to
buy one on Tuesday night in Saratoga, he went
out and spent $1.3 million more on another on Friday in Deauville.