Calling 'Em Like He Sees 'Em

In many parts of the racing world, race callers like Tom Durkin aren't known by name by their public.  And, earlier in the meet, when Durkin was gone a few days to attend the funeral of his close friend in Chicago, many people didn't even notice.  But if you were blind and you wanted to know precisely what was happening, he'd be the man you'd contact first.  Is there anyone better at calling the action?  Maybe not.

They say television sportscasters aren't the same as radio broadcasters who had to describe more than play-by-play.  Well, the same applies to good racetrack announcers.  Durkin tells you more than the order the field is in.  He tells you when a rider is fighting his mount, when a horse is rank or running wide, which runners miss the turn, which are left at the start, when a horse has his ears pricked or his tail flicked and everything an experienced horseplayer notices.  Besides, Durkin rolls his "Rs" for "R-r-r-ramon" Dominguez.

Consider the fifth race on Monday.  Durkin spotted Edgar Prado as Prado spotted a sliver of daylight between Thundering Roar and Shrimp Dancer and slid Mr. Vegas through to win.  Then in the sixth, the race caller noticed that Dorian Will and Ninth Client took the clubhouse turn wide and were finished.  The Linda Rice-trained Sigmondo won.

Wesley Ward sends out his horses to win at first asking and Great Attack did just that in the seventh.  Urban Flight began the eighth race nine horses to the right of Big Al, but finished first by a nose on the left of him.  The sixth running of the $112,500 Saratoga Dew Stakes went to Dean Henry, a bay 4-year-old New York-bred Empire Maker filly that's a half-sister to Read the Footnotes.  A gathering of slightly more than 10,000 - the smallest of the season - saw it happen.

Mine That Bird had his last Saratoga workout before leaving on Tuesday for New Mexico.  Calvin Borel took the Kentucky Derby winner a half mile around the main track in a leisurely 51.16 and will be taking him around the Santa Anita Cushion Track oval more quickly in the Goodwood Stakes on October 10 and the Breeders' Cup Classic four weeks later.

Mine That Bird will be Fed-Ex'd to El Paso, Texas and then moved by van to Sunland Park.  He will lead the post parade for the $2 million All-American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs on Labor Day.  In that part of the country, it's an honor befitting royalty.

Just before sunrise, Rachel Alexandra worked a half-mile in 49.09 in preparation for her attempt to rewrite racing history in Saturday's 56th running of the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward Stakes.  Only one other 3-year-old filly has ever faced the boys in the Woodward and, of course, she didn't beat them.   

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