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"
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
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.