New Round of Night Life

There have been 22 days of horse racing in Saratoga this summer─two fewer than the 24 mandated by the Harriman Law in 1962 that gave permanency to an exclusive season and 18 shy of the 40 that’ll be run before the leaves turn.  

A new round of night life has ushered in the meet’s second half, replacing such tonier musings as black-tie affairs, over-priced fundraisers, and Hall of Fame ceremonies. The jockeys sang karaoke at the Vapor Night Club to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund on Monday night. They will tend bar tonight at Prime on the Saratoga National Golf Course.

The karaoke concert was a hoot, as trainer Todd Pletcher, a judge of the competition, displayed a sharp wit he never exposes in public. Rosie Napravnik, seen regularly in blousy, unflattering jockey britches, revealed her feminine curves in skin-fitting leather pants.  Rubber band man Ronnie Eubanks poured his heart out over two selections and landed up with a golden microphone trophy.  Heriberto Rivera, Jr. won a trophy also for singing “Lady” by Lionel Richie.

Jockeys on Vapor Night Club stage for PDJF Karaoke Championship finale.
Photo by Vic Zast

Tom Durkin’s melodious rolling Rs rang out four times for jockey R-r-r-r-r-amon Dominguez on Monday afternoon.  Dominguez’s most fascinating winner was Ea, a long-winded, 8-year-old gelding that won a 1 1/8 mile race only seven days earlier. Ea appeared to be caught near the end of the grueling two mile eighth race but kept running.  The field departed the gate in the chute and made three left-handed turns before finishing. One horse, Sumo, never crossed the finish line.

Six of the seven leading riders saddled up for the seventh race.  It was a 5 ½ furlong dash on the Mellon Turf Course among seven first-time starters and a non-winner of three races, thus a good indication of the respect that the men had for the field.  Coconut Shrimp, a daughter of Giant’s Causeway, won handily for Javier Castellano.

Xavier Perez, on his first Saratoga mount, made it a winning one.  He rode Sensible Lady to victory in the $100,000 Coronation Cup, another of the routinely-scheduled turf sprints, this one for 3-year-old fillies. The betting machines were locked shut a minute or two before they should have been by a NYRA steward who saw the gates open for a race from another track on TV.  One last minute bettor, a horseplayer named Joe from Massachusetts, blustered, “Put this in your blog.”  He was aggravated.
Lou Raffetto, president of the Thoroughbred Owners of California and a person with 30 years experience of operating racetracks successfully in Maryland, New Jersey and Boston, was on the grounds, looking snappy. If the appointment of a new general manager for Saratoga was left up to fans, he’d be the selection.

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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