Charlie Zast of Queens, NY has never missed being in Saratoga on his birthday. But
one of these years, August 1 will fall on a weekday and his mom and dad won't be
able to drive him up the Taconic to see the "heeshes" on the date that he broke
his horse racing maiden. In the meantime, he's here and he's happy.
"Heeshes" is Charlie's contraction of "horses" and the
squeal that the horses utter when they're happy - "eeeeeeee." Charlie is two years
old this summer. He's a little older than the yearlings that occupy the Spic ‘n
Span Fasig-Tipton barns a block away and, of course, just marginally more
self-reliant. Yet, he wakes up at about
the same time they start "eeeeeeee-ing."
For late sleepers, it's annoying.
Nana accompanied Charlie to the yearling grounds yesterday. He wasn't greatly impressed with the renovated
sales pavilion. But you'll be. For the time being, the auction organizers
have the building sealed tight as a drum, wanting its unveiling tonight at the
first night of sales to be jaw-dropping.
Missing about 200 seats and looking a tad "Kentucky"
for its Adirondacks location, the
brass-banded, green heeshshoe-shaped building nonetheless will bring raves from
the public. Can it possibly help
"From your lips to God's ears," remarked Craig Bandoroff
when told that he might have the sale topper.
Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum was one of the many shoppers who
stopped by to see Hip No. 178, the son of Smart Strike that Denali Stud is selling.
Last year, to avoid being recognized, the Sheikh wore a ball cap, white
long-sleeved tee-shirt and faded jeans to the auction. Still when you're a man
who drools dirhams, you just can't change from your dishdashah into a costume
and expect to conceal your identity.
Some very nice horses ran in races six through nine at the
racecourse. In particular, Winslow
Homer, a colt that many touts once thought to be a Kentucky Derby threat, made
a most handy return to the races following a long convalescence. Winslow Homer won the eighth race - the overnight
Curlin Stakes - with ease despite not switching leads. It'll be on to the
Travers Stakes for him.
Before the ninth race, something rarely seen in the Saratoga walking ring
occurred for the featured Gr.1 $250,000 Ruffian Invitational. Trainer Bill Mott
rode his pony alongside Unrivaled Belle to keep his typically unruly filly
calm. The ploy worked. But Unrivaled
Belle broke poorly and lost. Victory went to Malibu Prayer, a Todd Pletcher-trained
filly that's finished first, second or third in ten of her 11 lifetime starts.
Sunday was the first time that NYRA scheduled the Ruffian
The 1-1/8 mile race for fillies and mares was switched to the Spa so that
Rachel Alexandra would have two races to run here. Shame on someone for
assuming that Jess Jackson and Steve Asmussen would honor the accommodation
with their presence.
Vic Zast writes a
column for HorseRaceInsider.com each Monday.
He has written the Saratoga
Diary for bloodhorse.com in five of the last six years.