Bourbon, Hold the Water

Rain entered the picture early. By 7 a.m. Thursday, it was teeming. Then it stopped and stayed dry for the rest of the day, although a few miles away there were downpours. The weekend forecast is spotty, calling for thunderstorms daily. One person, at least─Biz Zast of New York City, who’s being married on Saturday evening─would prefer that night starlit. Hers is an outdoors wedding. The ceremony will take place at the Fasig- Tipton auction grounds.

In recent years, Fasig-Tipton has invested millions to upgrade its grounds and the Humphrey S. Finney Sales Pavilion. The company was purchased by the Dubai-based company Synergy Investments Ltd. in 2008. Since then, Fasig-Tipton Saratoga has blossomed into a venue that old-timers can hardly recognize, nevertheless they still venerate. 

Fasig-Tipton
Fasig-Tipton auction grounds, recently provided with a facelift, still creating memories.

Those with gray hair can recall the quaint Spuyten Duyvil, an August-only watering hole owned by a Harlem chorus line girl. The bar is gone but once sat in a corner of the barn area off George Street, where horsemen would gather for a few days each summer to swap lies, swat mosquitoes and drink bourbon. You can still buy a drink. But it’s more likely you’ll leave with a Thoroughbred.

A colt by Seeking the Gold that was bought at the two-day 2010 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Sale for $75,000 named Manly was morning-line favorite in the $100,000 Quick Call. He finished sixth. This means that if a son or a daughter of his sire is led into the ring on Aug. 6 or 7, the auctioneer won’t reference the race.  Artest, by Hard Spun, won the stakes and, therefore, Hard Spun’s sons and daughters will benefit promotionally from the race.

Rosie Napravnik, who was carried off the track after falling from a mount on the Wednesday race card, seemed okay as she placed with St. John’s River in the second. But she went zero for three with her horses. On the other hand, John R. Velazquez rode Artest and was one for one. Three of the nine trainers to saddle Quick Call runners were women and horses trained by two of the women finished first and second. Michelle Nihei was last seen at the Saratoga Springs library as a guest of area businessman Elliott Masie for the Tom Durkin program on Monday, and then there she was in the winner’s circle as the winning trainer for Dennis Narlinger .

The jumpers returned in the first race. Demonstrative, at 15-1, led a field home in the $75,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. Mrs. George L. Ohrstrom, Jr.’s 5-year-old gelding teamed with Sea Island at 15-1 to account for a $378.50 Daily Double and, for whatever it’s worth, set a track record of 3:42.65 for “about” 2 1/16 miles. How does combining the words “about” and “track record” in the same sentence make sense?

Vic Zast is the author of The History and Art of 25 Travers. He has attended the races at Saratoga for 47 straight summers.

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