Shortly before Saratoga
racing took its Tuesday Sabbatical, the town's preservationists gathered at the
city library to hear what the locals wanted done when NYRA came into some money. Public forums like this sprout up all over
town; you just have to stay alert in order to spot them.
More trees, less concrete; a revival of the old paddock so
that people can watch the horses saddled and less "do as you please" by the "powers
to be" headed the preservationists' wish list. While some meeting attendees expressed
dread over the carnival quality of the picnic grounds, there was general
agreement that there'll be no turning back to a more sylvan, less bourgeois
rank and file, as a matter of fact, was largely missing on Wednesday. Attendance was below 11,000 for a second
straight day and the backyard was empty in patches. Fingers are crossed for a
better crowd Thursday and Friday - Midsummer St. Patrick's Day and College
Day. The track's heading into a heavy promotional
period during which free tee-shirts, ball caps and umbrellas will be
giveaways. A white short-sleeved tee
with Kelly green Saratoga
logo and shamrocks will serve as the first incentive.
presented another card of mostly mid-level claiming events. Nevertheless, people who don't care how fast
horses can run seemed oblivious. The
all-sources handle surpassed $10 million, proving management's point that, as
far as business is concerned, a routine day of racing at Saratoga
is better than a routine day of racing at Belmont.
In contrast to the dreariness of the afternoon's card, one of
the most uplifting gatherings of the Saratoga
season took place at noon. Dogwood Stable's Dominion Award luncheon was
held at the Reading Room. Cot and Anne
Campbell are always the ultimate hosts, making certain to make every guest welcome.
This was no exception. There were about 100.
After a round of refreshments, some tunes by Reggie's Red
Hot Feet Warmers and a proper lunch of chicken salad and sherbet, Cot Campbell
introduced Barbi Moline as the 18th recipient of the industry's
most-prized prize that honors the unsung hero. As intake director for Florida
Thoroughbred Rehab and Placement, Moline
saved 105 horses from slaughter last year.
The honoree and Campbell
looked like fashion plates holding the bronze equine sculpture that went with
the $5000 check one gets for winning the award. .Moline wore a multi-colored
dress of light, filmy fabric with rhinestones sprinkled across the bodice and ruffled
skirt. Campbell wore a blue seersucker jacket, gray
trousers, argyle socks and tan and brown spectators - attire more elegant than
anything experienced except for the brief speech he made.
Later, Woodbine-based horses finished 1-2-3 in the Gr. 2
Lake George Stakes, a 1 1/16 miles test on the grass for 3-year-old
fillies. The Roger Attfield-trained
Perfect Shirl overcame a case of chronic gate deficiency to key an exacta that
paid $1012.00. The day ended in defeat
for all horsemen as they lost to the jockeys in basketball, 45-41.
Vic Zast is a
columnist for HorseRaceInsider.com. He
has written the Saratoga
Diary for bloodhorse.com in five of the last six years.