There was a Women's Day Expo on the outer fringes of the Saratoga Racecourse backyard. NYRA officials promoted the event by reminding the press that nearly half of the track's attendance is female. Meanwhile, across Union Avenue, in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, attention was cast upon Chip Woolley, Jr. - a "man's man," if ever there was such a thing.
Arriving promptly at five minutes before the 11:00 a.m. post time for his Guests in the Gallery appearance, Woolley limped on crutches from his charcoal gray Ford Super Ram F-450 pickup truck, wearing his trademark black cowboy hat, plaid shirt, blue jeans and Kentucky Derby belt buckle. He took a seat on the stage, listened intently to what communications director Mike Kane wanted to talk about, and let rip with some plain-spoken answers.
The first question, of course, was about how Mine That Bird had fared following surgery. Woolley indicated the Travers was still in his plans, although he said it would be a couple days before the Kentucky Derby winner could be pronounced 100% healthy. "With a horse like him, nothing is minor," he confessed to the near capacity crowd.
Eventually, the questions got around to Mine That Bird's future. After the Travers, the gelding will go home to New Mexico. He'll then run in the Goodwood Stakes at Oak Tree and, if all goes well, in the Breeders' Cup Classic four weeks after that. Following a short break to freshen up, there'll be a race in early February, with the ultimate goal of the grade I $10 million Dubai World Cup.
"If he won that, it would be the ultimate," Woolley said as he signed autographs. It seemed that half the people wanted one and the lanky star obliged them. Woolley spoke about his feelings before and after the Derby, why he trained Mine That Bird to run with a last-to-first closing style and how someday he expected to engage Calvin Borel to ride again.
After listening to Woolley, the racing seemed irrelevant. Rodman closed the final quarter in the slow time of 13.50 seconds in the third race and became the first dual winner of the meet. Jamie Theriot spanked the flanks of Tidal Pool sixteen times in the homestretch to capture the fourth. Starfish Bay, 5-1 for Todd Pletcher, Edgar Prado and Gainesway, took the From New York to Old York Stakes. She looked impressive.
The sixth race should have been named the "Battle of the Cold Barns" purse. Four of the ten trainers represented in the race - Rusty Arnold, Bobby Barbara, Seth Benzel and Michael Matz - were zero for 43 starts. None won; Christophe Clement's Miss World did. They're still winless.
Worstcasescenario won the ninth race, the grade II Adirondack Stakes, for Rick Violette. There were three longer shots on the board than she. But, at 13-1, her 4 1/4-lengths victory was still surprising.