The full moon occurred nearly five nights ago. But its effects weren’t felt until
Thursday. On what seemed like a normal
weekday, not much of it seemed normal at all. Even if your taste runs to steeplechases and
low level claiming races, the manner in which Thursday’s card played out would
have given you fits.
On the surface, it appeared that the day started out rather
predictably. Trainer Jonathan Sheppard,
who wins most of the jumping events, saddled four horses – two in each of the
races over hurdles. But the first horse
that won was the one of the two he had entered that wasn’t supposed to, and the
second was called by the name of the other so nobody knew who he was.
Most handicappers pre-determined that Sheppard’s 2-1 Port
Morsbey was better than Parker’s Project at 14-1 in the first race. But the two horses finished second-first
instead of first-second. Parker’s Project romped home by over five lengths. Then
in the second race, the Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes, Sheppard struck again
with Italian Wedding. But track
announcer Tom Durkin said One Giant Step won.
This wasn’t a mistake of not seeing a verdict by inches. Durkin merely mistook the second half of the 1
and 1A entry for the first. It didn’t help matters that the field was sent away
without Durkin noticing. He apologized
publicly, not diplomatically, by announcing “Whoa, they started the race,” as
opposed to “They’re Off,” after the field had run several hundred yards.
Take Down Two, a six-year-old shipper from Suffolk Downs
making his sixtieth start, provided pause to wonder in the fourth race. Take Down Two’s trainer was also his
jockey. Now how often does one see
that? The answer, of course, is not very
often – even less often than Take Down Two wins. This time around, he missed last by a nose
thanks to Jacqueline Falk. The trainer/jockey used the whip to the finish. One other Falk – Arlene, who is Jacqueline’s
mother, was listed as co-owner.
Jacqueline Falk is the trainer and jockey of Take Down Two. Her mother Arlene is the gelding's co-owner.
Indian Tale, a three-year-old filly that Rick Dutrow Jr.
claimed on August 7, made her fourth start in 11 days. She wanted no part of competition, however,
and merely jogged ‘round the track in the fifth, finishing last. Chernobyl’s
Hero, a candidate for worst-named horse, won the eighth race – a five-and-half
furlongs sprint, when Retire to What drifted six paths across the homestretch
and bumped him almost clear off the turf course.
Friday, when there’ll be a return to normality, The Breast
Cancer Research Foundation will host its Sizzling Hot Pink Saratoga Hat
Luncheon in the Upper Carousel Restaurant. Jeannine Edwards will try to do what
Tom Durkin couldn’t do – get the names right. The one she must get right, for
sure, is Anne Campbell’s. Dogwood
Stable’s First Lady is the honoree.
Vic Zast is the author
of “The History and Art of 25 Travers.”
He’s attended the races in Saratoga for 48 straight summers.