Let Them Eat Cake

Commentator was feted in the paddock and the winner's ring between the fourth and the fifth races.  The winner of eight stakes including two Whitney Handicaps, the popular New York-bred looked just a bit chubby under tack and the schlub on his back just a little bit tacky.  Someone please explain why rider Carlos Correa couldn't have been handed a set of owner Tracy Farmer's silks to wear.

Regardless, a smattering of applause greeted the new retiree as he jogged down the stretch.  A very brief video played on the infield screens.  Mayor Scott Johnson presented the 8-year-old gelding with an edible three-foot-long "Key to the City."  Trainer Nick Zito fed him. The cake was made of oats, molasses, honey and peppermint.  Then 10 horses took flight in the first-ever Commentator Stakes.

Wesley Ward saddled the Commentator's winner Cannonball and the meet's leading rider Ramon Dominguez rode him. Cannonball lost by a neck at 11-1 in the group I Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot the last time he ran. This win was close again - by another neck - but it was his neck that got it.

The sixth race was named to toast Tara McCormick and Brian Hostash.  The couple was wed in a luxury suite.  McCormick was the one prancing about in the white A-line halter top gown with lace bodice and bottom; Hostash the one in the white three-piece monkey suit, top hat and sneakers.  Oh, and as for the winner of the race, make that Make Note, a son of Read the Footnotes.

Two graded stakes, each over 100 years old, headlined the program.  The 102nd running of the grade III Saranac was won by Al Khali. The field was depleted a bit when Lime Rickey was scratched, but the five horses that faced the winner had "flav-ah" anyhow.  Most horseplayers expected Sal the Barber to put up the stiffest competition.  El Crespo and Armstrong Hill had something to say about that.

Hot Dixie Chick won the 118th Spinaway Stakes that followed immediately.  A loser just once in her brief four-race career, the 2-year-old filly by Dixie Union  showed that she could do more than streak from the gate and hang on.  Breaking from the rail, she settled in third after Bickersons and Beautician, then sprinted clear of the pace-setters when necessary.

A crowd of 50,113 people was announced.  The count was abetted, of course, by the spinners.  The final giveaway was a red knit winter cap with the name Saratoga in white on the front.  It, like the three other premiums this year, was a dandy.

You could see the end of the meet coming by just keeping your eyes open.  Horse transport trucks here to collect cargo for Belmont roamed Clare Court incessantly.  Fans began stripping ferns from the restaurants and taking them home as souvenirs.  The final day should be a free-for-all - free admission to begin with.

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