There was an assortment of topics on the tips of peoples' tongues as the meet reached its halfway mark. Somewhat surprisingly, none of them had to do with the state's off-track betting crisis or the fact that an operator for the Aqueduct racino hasn't been identified yet.
At top of mind, horseplayers are scratching their heads over what to bet in order to make money. The past few days have been puzzling to the point of causing one pretty good handicapper to remark, "I'm beginning to believe that I can't win." Horses apparently off form or seemingly under-qualified for their races or coming off exceptionally long layoffs have been hitting the board with regularity, throwing players of exotic wagers off their game.
Monday was little different from other recent days. Seven of the nine races were taken by horses that figured. Odds-on Gayego, now owned by Godolphin, gave Saeed Bin Suroor (aka Rick Mettee) his fifth training victory of the meet in the third. Awakino Cat, in winning the featured Troy Stakes, gave Linda Rice her meet-leading tenth.
Another of the discussed topics has been where Rachel Alexandra will appear next. The country's most discussed horse took a spin on the Oklahoma training track this morning. There's a growing fear that Steve Asmussen, who watches over the Preakness champion for Jess Jackson, will give in to the bonus offer being bandied about in Pennsylvania. If that occurs, you can scratch using the words "little old wine-maker" and "sportsman" in the same breath.
Mike Kane, communications director of the National Museum of Racing, announced that Chip Woolley, Jr. will be his next guest at the Museum's Guest in the Gallery program. The first two sessions of this popular, fan-friendly forum were interesting. But the Woolley appearance adds the lure of a bona fide star to Kane's program. The audience, for certain, will ask about Mine That Bird's surgery and its effect on the Kentucky Derby winner's Travers status.
Lastly, there is an undercurrent of derision surrounding Michele Riggi's unusual fund-raiser Sunday evening. Even though Saratoga is a haven for animal lovers, the socialite's "Posh Palazzo Pups" book signing was viewed negatively.
First of all, calling your home, no matter how grand it is, the Palazzo is the ultimate in nouveau riche behavior. Maintaining a kennel of 24 performing Chihuahuas, some would say, is eccentric. Draping dogs in diamond necklaces when backstretch workers need blankets, well...need more be said? It's too bad because Riggi has contributed a lot to this town, otherwise.
In comparison, the Race Track Chaplaincy of America hosted a "Red Tag Sale" brunch at the Gideon Putnam resort. Alejandro De La Rosa, a practicing architect, spoke about the positive impact of the chaplaincy on his life. His remarks made the considerable money raised at the event feel insufficient. Dogwood Stable's Anne Campbell introduced De la Rosa's contingent as the "real unsung heroes" of the racetrack.