A Great Seat

Normally, it's her pretty face that you see on TV. But Jeannine Edwards has a great seat. For those unaware of the comely ESPN commentator's off-the-air interests, she's an equestrienne par excellence.

Edwards sat her back up like a washboard on Ashkal Way through an impressive demonstration of dressage in front of the Clubhouse before the racing began on Wednesday. She took her 8-year-old gelding through his paces to "It's Gonna be a Good Day" by the Black Eyed Peas. Ashkal Way, the winner of the 2006 Bernard Baruch Stakes, was a poster boy for Thoroughbred Retirement Day. 

NYRA made generous donations to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, Old Friends and the Exceller Fund. In the morning, Michael Blowen told about 40 people attending the Guests in the Gallery program at the Racing Museum that Old Friends was hoping to start a National Horse Cemetery in nearby Greenfield.

On Tuesday, a golf foursome led by retired jockey Filiberto Leon shot minus-10 to edge out Garrett Gomez's in the Jockeys Golf Tournament.  The tournament benefited the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.  Thirty-one foursomes had a shot to win at Saratoga Lake Golf Club. Richie Migliore gave a brief speech at dinner to thank his former locker room pals for honoring him. A few weeks back, the jockeys played hoops to help the cause out. On August 30, they'll play softball.

Back at the races, Rudy Rodriguez, a former jockey turned trainer, did his part to uphold the retirement theme.  He saddled 11-1 Saltamontes to win the second race - her first start ever.  There was nothing in Saltamontes' vita to make you play her - an issue, according to some.

Trainer Linda Rice praised Allan Garcia for piloting Awakino Cat to victory in the featured Troy Stakes. "He's terrific at these 5-1/2 furlong grass sprints," she said about her rider. In addition, within the course of a short afternoon, five horses changed hands via the claiming route.

This past Sunday's controversial induction of Michael Jackson into the Hall of Fame at the National Museum of Dance and Friday evening's National Museum of Racing's tony Museum Ball put a temporary stop to Saratoga's expensive social events.  Nevertheless, the spending picks up again next week with Belmont Child Care Association's "Round-Up" at the Gideon Putnam on Wednesday evening and the Travers Celebration Ball at the racecourse the following night.

In the past, the upcoming week was also when the New York Turf Writers held its annual dinner.  Unfortunately, the event won't be held this August.  Forty years ago, the New York Turf Writers dinner was the one party that everyone attended. Now the organization is near oblivion, its members busy with real jobs.

Meanwhile, ballots for three important awards, presented by the National Turf Writers Association - a healthier body, went out in the email. Speaking of healthy, fallen jockey Rajiv Maragh was declared that at Albany Medical Center.

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."


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