Dawn broke murky and gray but by noon the sun had peaked out from behind the clouds and Saratoga Racecourse returned to usability. It was the second Sunday without a give-away; next Sunday prepare to line up for knit winter caps. Yet, a decent gathering pitched tents in the backyard and business carried forth briskly.
Travers Day attendance was the lowest since 1979 and the drop-off should cause concern in the corner office. The rain is a convenient excuse. Yet, more than one fan expressed disappointment that neither Rachel Alexandra nor Mine That Bird was entered and, unbelievable as it sounds, blamed the track for promising the superstars and then not delivering them.
Nevertheless, on the day after the day that everyone waits for, some good things occurred to fine trainers. For example, Bruce Levine finally won one. The program had him 0 for 38 for the meet. Nevertheless, Levine's Soda Pop Kid won the fifth.
When the sixth rolled around, bettors couldn't believe that Todd Pletcher dropped Frame of Reference, a colt that cost Michael Tabor and Derek Smith $750,000 to buy at auction, into a claiming purse for $20,000. Well, the horse won by 5 1/2 lengths, looking more like the former instead of the latter. Linda Rice claimed him.
Trainer George Weaver got lucky in the seventh when Chief Tomaka withstood an objection by Jose Lezcano on St. Augustine. From the head-on, it appeared that Peachtree's Malibu Moon colt caused a slight collision in the homestretch, but perhaps it was just a commotion. Winning with one out of every four starters and being equally adept at garnering the place spot, Weaver is having a wonderful meet.
Lastly, Marty Wolfson entered Andrew Rosen's Icon Project in the featured $400,000 grade 1 Personal Ensign Stakes and the 4-year-old filly by Empire Maker won like a superstar. The Personal Ensign was last season's second best race as Ginger Punch nosed out Lemon Drop Mom. Do you remember it?
Of culinary interest, John "PJ" Davis and his wife Carolyn had some disconcerting news to share with their legions of customers. The couple has been operating a barbecue stand on Rte. 9 near exit 13 of the Northway since 1984. The main courses at PJ's Bar-B-Q are chicken and ribs, but people familiar with Buffalo, NY, where Davis was born, order beef on kimmelweck and Sahlen's char-broiled hot dogs. They park in preferred spots designated for Bills fans.
Next year Davis will close PJ's permanently to franchise a new business called "Bar-B-QSA." These restaurants will serve regional sauces for traditional fare - an idea that folks who want something original won't find original. But, money makes the world go, and if abandoning his current location with its serving of classic car rallies and vintage rock ‘ roll and tours of the fire pit ‘round back is what does it for PJ, there's nobody on Earth who'd want him to fail. Yet, there's sadness among the faithful.