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.



Leave a Comment:


Great stuff Mr. Zast. I have a question. I was going to purchase your book on the history of the Travers Stakes. Does it have anything on Easy Goer's near track record 1989 Travers in it?

27 Jul 2010 9:07 AM
Vic Zast

Diary correction: I've been informed that, inspired by a former NBA player who changed his name in mid-career, NYRA marketing director will be forever now be known by the name Neema "Tee-Shirt B Free" Ghazi.

By the way, you can get one at the track on Irish Day Thursday.

27 Jul 2010 10:29 AM
Fan of the Spa

Great article!  Sure wish I could be there.  Hope to see some video of the Davids vs. the Goliaths - so to speak!

27 Jul 2010 11:16 AM
Vic Zast

Dear ThoroGreats: "The History and Art of 25 Travers" has a chapter about each Travers Stakes from 1986 to 2007, including photos, charts and details.

In addition, there are chapters about three historic Travers - Jim Dandy's 1930 Travers, the 1962 Travers between Jaipur and Ridan and the 1978 race between Affirmed and Alydar.

I'll be at the Racing Museum on Thursday at 10:00 am to sign books. For more info, try www.25Travers.com.

Thanks for your interest.  

27 Jul 2010 11:58 AM
Kit J

If Angel is coaching the jockeys, who's coaching the trainers? Or will it just be unorganized chaos, or one on one?  I'd suggest a former coach maybe?

27 Jul 2010 12:06 PM
Criminal Type

Don't they call D Wayne Lucas "coach" ? If he is in the area he might be a good choice for the trainers coach.

27 Jul 2010 1:08 PM
Mike in SB

I purchased "The History and Art of 25 Travers" last year. It is a great book and has the posters for each of the 25 Travers, the charts and the story of each race. It is the best book I have seen on the Travers Stakes.

27 Jul 2010 1:15 PM
Kit J

My thought exactly CT, only it's LUKAS.

27 Jul 2010 4:04 PM

LOL...jocks should go off at 1 to 5, even without the ringer.  Someone at Saratoga please post video!

27 Jul 2010 9:47 PM

A "head less?"...that was good...

28 Jul 2010 6:46 AM
Criminal Type

Ty Kit, Yep, my spelling sucks. haha

29 Jul 2010 9:06 AM

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