Even on College Day, the backyard of Saratoga should not be confused with the infield of Churchill Downs on Derby Day. Except for the signs that welcomed students, the few tee-shirts that read, “My favorite course: Saratoga Racecourse,” and the $1000 scholarships awarded nine lucky people, it was difficult to tell that Friday’s activities were intended primarily for students. Kids find their way to the racecourse on Union Avenue in pretty good numbers, ordinarily, and they partake in the experience without getting arrested for disorderly conduct or mud sliding.
Backyard regulars, by the way, can kiss goodbye to the grass beneath picnic tables. The overnight rains left the area soaked, so the few blades of green disappeared as soon as the squatters arrived. There was another okay crowd at the Spa course─about $18,000. Nevertheless, cars were backed up on South Broadway from downtown to PJ’s Barbecue by noon. The 2:30 p.m. late post confused people.
Turf racing was cancelled and the main track was sealed sloppy. There were plenty of scratches, but most races had sizable fields. One number 16, named Treacherous, made the cut from the also-eligible list, when mass defections occurred from the ninth race, and triumphed. A number 13, Elusive Jozi, won the second.
Dick Downey, who prepares thedowneyprofile.com, which tracks the activities of horses on the Kentucky Derby road, was impressed by the fourth race victory of Park City, a son of Harlan’s Holiday. One of Park City’s owners, Donnie Lucarelli of Starlight Racing, said after the promising colt won at first asking that he wasn’t shocked. “The colt’s been working great in the mornings. But you can never tell until you put them into a race,” he said later in the evening at a private party in The Swamp at Hattie’s on Phila St.
Downey wisely noted that the winning connections of Street Life wisely opted out of today’s Jim Dandy (gr. II) for the Friday feature, the $100,000 Curlin. “It was smart on their part to find this slightly easier spot, same goes for Five Sixteen,” he remarked, about the horse that finished second at 17-1. Both horses ran up the track in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Street Life is now poised for the Travers (gr. I).
Barbara Banke, the owner of Stonestreet Stables that raced Curlin and Rachel Alexandra, announced after the Curlin that the first foal of the popular mare would be called Jess’s Dream. The name was chosen by the popular acclaim of close to 7,000 online fans of the sport. Don’t name your child this way.
Vic Zast is the author of The History and Art of 25 Travers. He has attended the races at Saratoga for 47 straight summers.