Post position isn't supposed to mean much in a 1 ¼ mile race
at Saratoga. Yet, quite a media gathering took place in
the paddock at 11:00 on a perfectly sublime Wednesday morning to learn which
horse will be starting where in the Travers on Saturday.
The suspicion is that most on hand were interested in
hearing about the nitty-gritty surrounding Mine That Bird's defection - either
that or they came for the free eggs and bacon that NYRA served beforehand. No mention of the Kentucky Derby winner,
other than emcee Dan Silver's brief apology, was evident.
In two fell swoops, the Travers has gone from being the race
of the summer to just another Midsummer Derby.
A week ago, when it seemed possible that all three Triple Crown race
winners would meet, officials were predicting a turnout of 50,000 fans. Then the owner and trainer of the Preakness
champion chose the September 5 Woodward Stakes instead.
If great horses produce big crowds (a doubtful premise),
there'll be 40,000 fans in attendance. To most people on the grounds, that will
seem the ideal. It'll be easy to move
around, make your wagers and see a horse or two, if you're lucky.
Once the numbers were drawn, Silver called upon several
trainers. Tim Ice, Scott Blasi, Ian
Wilkes and Kiaran McLaughlin, dressed in ball caps and jeans, stepped forward
and spoke with some insight. No, that's
not right - with some words for the cameras.
The event, of course, wouldn't have been this informal in 1936 when the
24-karat Man O' War Cup was made the official Travers trophy.
Last weekend, Jeff Cohen and Beth Daly, two visiting owners
from Windsor, Ontario, talked a little about history. It was at Windsor's
Kenilworth Park on October 12, 1920 that "Big Red"
defeated Sir Barton in a match race. Mrs.
Samuel Riddle, the owner's widow, bequeathed the gold bowl that was given to
her husband following that triumph to the Saratoga Association - that's how it
all began. By the way, the Man O' War
Cup, on display prominently at the draw, had more color than any of the
Check that. Jess Jackson
lurked under a nearby tree and was rushed by the press afterward. He referred to the Santa Anita surface as an
"industrial track." He called for a
horse racing league and a national commissioner. He said Rachel Alexandra's "legacy is to take
on everything that comes along" and, in keeping with that, she would contest
the 2010 Breeders' Cup. In addition,
it's Ken-say, not Ken-sigh.
Staying with the Japanese theme, Sumo won the $70,850
Pleasant Colony Stakes. Wildcat Nation,
a half to Visionaire, beat a highly-touted field of maiden colts in the
seventh. Fiddlers Afleet gave jockey
Ramon Dominguez his fourth winner in the featured $150,000 Albany Stakes. The
kids of Anna House were the evening's biggest winners as donors came out of the
woodwork for a fiesta-themed fund-raiser that honored McLaughlin and Edgar