Hoop Dreams

Rumors abounded on Monday morning that the jockeys were planning to play a ringer in Wednesday evening's basketball game between the New York Horsemen and them.  Word has it that one of the Siena College Final Four tournament team members - a 7-footer - will suit up on the side of the 5-footers.  If that's the case, Las Vegas bookmakers will make the jockeys a six-point favorite.

Kent "The Gunner" Desormeaux will lead a decidedly fitter squad against the likes of trainer Todd "The Perimeter" Pletcher, owner Terry "Easy Money" Finley, NYRA Board president Steve "No Threat to Dunk" Duncker, WinStar racing manager Elliott "Big Baby" Walden and NYRA marketing director Neema "The Word" Ghazi.  On the jockeys' bench, Hall of Fame rider Angel Cordero Jr.is expected to provide the strategy that will lead to a team victory.  Trainers Linda Rice and Lisa Lewis will be cheerleaders (of sorts).

Nick Caras, a former Dogwood Dominion Award winner, will be extracting $15 per person at the door of the new Saratoga Springs Recreation Center to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund and the New York Racetrack Chaplaincy.  Tip-off is scheduled for 7 pm.

Wednesday will be the first day of racing at Saratoga for many people.  Monday was the last of the four extra days that NYRA added to the season.  Trainers represented a sizable number of the warm bodies in the Clubhouse boxes at dawn, as the work tab was loaded with horses pointing to races later in the week. Gary Contessa, Kiaran McLaughlin, Todd Pletcher, Michael Matz, Dale Romans and Rick Violette watched on with intensity.  TV color man Jerry Bailey and TV cover boy David Cassidy were there, also.

Whitney Handicap-bound Quality Road was the morning's star attraction.  He zipped five furlongs in just under 59 seconds. Jim Dandy Stakes possibilities A Little Warm, Aikenite and Friend or Foe took to the main track after the renovation break.  Fly Down posted a bullet workout at Oklahoma.

In the afternoon, most of the races were for claiming horses and some could be bought for as little as $10,000.  But the two races that exhibited traditional Saratoga quality were amazingly good. In the third race, Edgar Prado on Giant Moon passed Icabad Crane and left him almost a head less of capturing the 29th running of the Evan Shipman Stakes for horses foaled in New York.  In the eighth, Checklist, owned by Jack-Daddy Wolf's Starlight Partners, proved for the second time in his lifetime that he can approach breaking track records. Under J.R.Velasquez, the son of Gone West beat a field of six equally-talented sprinters in 1:08.79. 

In case you are wondering, Jack-Daddy is the name Jack Wolf's 3-year-old son Jake gave him.


Because there's no racing on Tuesday, Vic Zast's Saratoga Diary returns on Thursday morning.  You're invited to read Vic Zast on Facebook and Twitter.


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