Three exceptional displays of philanthropy occurred at the 14th annual Belmont Child Care Association’s fundraiser at the Gideon Putnam Hotel on Wednesday evening.
First, Michael Dubb, the charity’s chairman and one of New York’s leading horse owners, paid $11,500 for a Breeders’ Cup trip that included private jet service. Then Susan Moore, the New Jersey horse woman who campaigned the gr. 1 Acorn Stakes winner Zaftig, gave a golf cart that she won in the raffle back to the BCCA. Moore's generosity resulted in raising an additional $7000. Lastly, Joe and Jo Ford of Westrock Stable matched $25,000 collected from random donors with their own $25,000 gift, making the evening’s last haul its largest.
Many people in the congenial crowd expressed how much they enjoyed the BCCA parties. It is one of the few events of the season to which you can come as you’re dressed – the theme this year had to do with a Country Fair. The room was transformed in blue and white checkerboard tablecloths bedecked with blue First Place ribbons at place settings. D. Wayne Lukas entertained everyone as much as he separated their money from wallets by serving as guest auctioneer.
Caption: County Fair theme played out in blue and white at the BCCA gala
Photo: Vic Zast
Earlier that day, several dozen horse racing writers and broadcasters flashed their credentials past the NYRA security and entered the Saratoga paddock at 11:00 am for a long-winded Travers Post Position Draw ceremony. Trainer Bob Baffert, who will saddle the race’s morning line second choice Coil, was prompted to answer questions for twice the time anyone else did. He saw his runner enter the paddock for schooling at the same time he walked up to the lectern and mentioned the horse’s presence, to which the emcee noted, “For once, you’re turning the attention away from yourself.” The remark didn’t amuse him.
Caption: Bob Baffert, the trainer of Coil, one of nine speakers at the Post Position Draw ceremony
Photo: Vic Zast
In all, nine Travers participants were interviewed, eight trainers and Mike Repole. The irrepressible owner of Stay Thirsty bounded up to the microphone looking to make himself Todd Pletcher’s interviewer. His all-out assault on the stage failed. Still, he got his two cents in.
As for the day’s racing, Missysmoonlitmagic, another shipper from Finger Lakes, took the second race. In winning the third race, Most Happy Fella won at the Spa for the second time.
“Hannibal Lecter ate this bunch for lunch,” Tom Durkin said over the public address system when a colt with the cannibal’s name scampered home well ahead of the field in the fifth. Hannibal Lecter was 15-1 in the program and dropped to 2-1 as the betting began.
The eighth race, a salty seven furlong sprint won by Buckleupbuttercup, was named the Prescott Brown purse. The late Brown was a Schenectady, NY professor who planned parties for Marylou Whitney. To honor the man, Whitney and John Hendrickson presented the trophy.
Vic Zast is the author of “The History and Art of 25 Travers.” He’s attended the races at Saratoga for 48 straight summers.