Children wearing Halloween costumes poured into the racecourse on Friday the 13th to put the whammy on triskaidekaphobia. Meanwhile, the topic of uniforms was discussed from one end of the grandstand to the other.
On Thursday, NYRA told the white caps that they’re no longer permitted to wear decorative pins on their red vests. No ban on pins was reported for members of TOBA, Jockey Club, TRA or the NTWA. In addition, free admission is granted to wearers of 16 different pins.
The members of industry organizations consider the pin a part of their uniform. But Kimberly Justus, who’s in charge of guest services, says the uniform of white caps is limited to a red vest, white collared shirt, black bow tie and black pants. Decorum, in this case, has caused controversy.
“When a person sees a white cap, I want a solid uniform look,” Justus said. “They’re junking up their uniforms,” she said of the pins that they wore. A guy manning a section in the grandstand wore more pins than Petreaus wears medals.
Pins or no pins, Justus is justified in demanding the white caps dress presentably. In recent years, the get-ups that some had assembled weren’t suitable for meeting the public. Even after the no-pin edict, a few white caps are wearing their collars unbuttoned, clip-on bow ties dangling from one end, with the tails of their shirts sticking out.
“The pins gave me a connection to my customers that I’m going to miss,” countered a distraught employee of many years. “If I’m not wearing my pins, how are people going to know to give me one?” she asked. Unresolved is the question of whether or not the pink breast cancer ribbons that employees were given to wear are permitted. One fan from Troy, NY said, “The pins are a way for them to express themselves. I thought that’s okay in America.”
As usual, several speakers at the morning’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony expressed themselves a little longer than necessary. The Racing Museum team did its typical first-rate job at making the event a must-attend. But if you ask what the program’s highlight was, the answer would be Jill Baffert’s pink halter top.
Husband Bob displayed genuine appreciation for his recent election. Each time he appears on behalf of the sport, he arrives with a breath of fresh air. Randy Romero got the biggest hand – a standing ovation, in fact. Only four of the speakers shed tears or became choked up.
Friday’s sixth and seventh races illustrated why turf racing is popular. The Shug McGaughey-trained Air Support, a son of Smart Strike, won a 1-1/16 mile maiden race by a nose at 3-1. Then Interactif, conditioned by the meet’s leading trainer Todd Pletcher, took the $150,000 Gr.2 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Stakes by a slimmer margin.
Two Hall of Fame trainers won races. McGaughey and D.Wayne Lukas met runners they trained in the winner’s circle.
Vic Zast has attended at least one day of racing at Saratoga in each of the last 47 years. He is the author of the award winning book, “The History and Art of 25 Travers.”