Looking Forward

It was a wise decision by NYRA to cancel Sunday’s racing. The heavy rains and winds didn’t relent until 4:00 pm and, even then, being in Saratoga would have felt like being at Aqueduct in April.  This morning brought clear skies and sun and the forecast that the next several days will seem like summer again.  Those who stick out the meet after Travers Day know, nonetheless, there will be more talk of next year than this year.

Caption: Hurricane Irene rains halted racing on Sunday
Photo: Vic Zast

Fire On Ice, a son of Unbridled’s Song out of the unraced Storm Cat mare Lost in the Storm (how’s that for synchronicity?), delivered the same kind of dominating performance that Uncle Mo gave as a juvenile on last season’s Travers Day card.  Owned in part by his trainer John Kimmel, Fire On Ice now commands his ultimate price and it would come as no surprise to see at least Kimmel’s share sold.  Saratoga’s horse sales may have ended officially weeks ago, but the give and take between folks with a runner and folks with a dream of the first Saturday in May has just initiated.

Although Lael Stable’s Penn’s Grant finished almost a dozen lengths behind Fire On ice and was 25-1 in the wagering, in him Barclay Tagg may be training, at Mike Matz’s loss, the three-year-old star that everyone’s looking for.  A slow start, by the way, kept the muscular son of Empire Maker from finishing higher than third.  But he did finish strongly.  The simple truth is that two-year-old colts that don’t win at Saratoga, but race here to learn, often turn out to be spring’s most accomplished runners.

Monday’s card is heavy on claiming and dirt races.  The three meant for the turf will be switched to the main track, unless the person in charge of making such calls went west for the weekend.  NYRA’s eager approach to pulling some grass races at the slightest suggestion of give in the ground is one of the season’s confounding realities.  What has happened to “yielding?”  Fans believe that there have been more than the typical number of questionable stewards’ inquiry decisions and have been frustrated by numerous gate scratches. 

In the upcoming week, SPAC will feature Stevie Nicks, Incubus, Journey and Sir Elton John.  NYRA conducted a sweepstakes which permits one lucky winner and a friend to see the rock legend in concert.  The winner will receive money to spend on souvenirs at the track.  It will be tendered, of course, in the form of a voucher. 

On Saturday, September 3, a day earlier, the gr. 1 Woodward Stakes will decide if Havre de Grace can beat the boys.  That stellar card will likewise offer the gr. 1 Forego and now, thanks to Hurricane Irene, the gr. 1 Personal Ensign.
Vic Zast is the author of “The History and Art of 25 Travers.”  He’s attended the races at Saratoga for 48 straight summers.

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