Making the Right Call

NYRA has found a way to take advantage of retired Eclipse Award-winning jockey Richie Migliore’s friendly personality and fabulous communications skills.  It’s having Migliore select two fans to serve as “Fans of the Day” on weekdays.  “The Mig” then treats them to a tour of the paddock before a race and the winner’s circle afterwards.  Thursday, he chose two folks from Simsbury, CT, who are named William and Boston.  

“Other than ‘Where is the ATM machine,’ the question I’m most often asked is ‘What do we do here?” reports Susan Corona, a guest services representative charged with the responsibility of helping visitors feel at home. Corona’s surprised that so many people, who have no experience with betting or horse racing, come to the racecourse. “I guess that if you find yourself here in Saratoga during the season, why, you just have to visit,” she believes.

Nevertheless, for people who do come for the gambling and horse racing, the sport this year has been truly exceptional.  NYRA seems to understand that filling fields to the brim isn’t the only requirement, and PJ Campo has written some excellent races that represent Saratoga quality. On the sixth day of the 40-day meet, two races had fewer than eight horses entered, but they were races that weren’t just for watching.

It is safe to say that nobody was pleased that only five horses were entered and only four horses ran in the second race. But, then, where else besides Saratoga should one expect to catch an allowance optional claiming race with a claiming price of $75,000 that isn’t the feature?  Moreover, bettors could find reason to figure that most of the fourth race’s seven runners could win and that most of its runners could lose.  At 7-1, Boots Ahead was among the less likely to triumph in the allowance optional claiming race with a claiming price of $100,000.  But he did.

In other noteworthy action, Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez teamed up to produce the Wertheimers’ Crazy Party as winner of the fifth race, a 1-1/16 mile turf event for maiden two-year-old fillies.  Crazy Party is by A.P. Indy.

One of NYRA’s professional touts tipped bettors away from the favored Shoutout in the sixth.  He noted that trainer John Terranova was zero for 30-something at stretching his turf sprinters out and that daunting reality was what Shoutout was facing in order to win.  Chad Brown’s Best Act was the winner.

As for the feature, Great Mills got the call over Fudgesickle in the Quick Call.  He’s by War Front and Steve Asmussen.

One call you won’t regret making is for dinner reservations at the re-born Maestro restaurant on the porch of the Rip Van Dam Hotel.  Back in the day, the hotel set rocking chairs out so that horse players could read their Racing Forms while enjoying the passing parade of humanity.  Now you go there to have dark chocolate bark with your post-dinner cognac.   

Vic Zast is the author of “The History and Art of 25 Travers.”  He has been to the races in Saratoga for 48 straight summers.

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