Pink and Rosie

Fans wearing pink were allowed into the racecourse for free. Friday was Fabulous Fillies Day, remembering Evelyn H. Lauder, honoring Virginia Kraft Payson and benefitting breast cancer research. 

There were free faux diamond pendants for early arrivers, complimentary pink hair extensions for anyone who wanted one and a Sizzling Hot Pink Saratoga Hat Luncheon in the “At the Rail Pavilion” for those with money to burn - just enough frivolous stuff to enable women to have a “girl’s day out,” which is the way a Ladies Day should be. 

Fourteen-year-old Elinor Wolf, daughter of Jack and Laurie Wolf of Louisville, KY and Saratoga Springs, NY, may have been the youngest and prettiest woman at the Sizzling Hot Pink Saratoga Hat Luncheon.

Pink bunting hung in the clubhouse entrance ways.  A blanket of pink flowers draped the base of Sea Hero’s bronze in the paddock.  A red carpet was rolled out from the turnstiles toward Union Avenue.  Fashion-conscious women of days gone by would have frowned at the color combination.  But modern redheads wear red lipstick and carry purses that don’t match their shoes. It all works when you have a purpose.

The Sea Hero bronze in the walking ring, surrounded by a sea of pink flowers.

Women presented the trophies. The racing secretary wrote only races for fillies and mares.  The two best races came early as the second and the fourth on the card.  The most exciting was squeezed in between.  Jockey Rosie Napravnik showed the men what women are made of.  Her daring-do in the third led to a narrow victory by the 6-1 Stack the Storm.

Napravnik was dumped from her saddle three times trying to enter the starting gate on Stack the Storm.  The Gulf Storm filly was fractious throughout the warm-up.  Meanwhile, two other horses scratched.  Irad Ortiz, Jr. fell from one, causing the third to act up, and was carted off on a stretcher and packed into an ambulance.  Fourth time was the ticket for Napravnik.  Her recalcitrant mount was finally loaded, kicking and bucking, after delaying the start 14 minutes.  Stack the Storm jogged in back of the field for most of the grassy mile before snatching victory from the jaws of distress.

The start of the third race was delayed 14 minutes as two horses scratched and a third dumped her rider three times at the gate.

A filly with an appropriate name for the day, Lady Cohiba, upset the $100,000 Summer Guest Stakes at nearly 14-1.  A dawdling pace did the favorite Ciao Bella in. The David Donk-trained Hessonite accounted for the $150,000 Yaddo. Kieran McLaughlin saddled Darley Stable’s 3 to 5 Dance Card to win the sixth. Ramon Dominguez and Javier Castellano each rode three winners.

About a thousand backyard squatters have been displaced from their favorite area on the grandstand bend of the walking ring.  They’ve surrendered their spot to a 75’ X 75’ tent and a 75’ x 25’ fenced-off porch.  The tent went up during Fasig-Tipton sales week and has not come down. “I don’t like it,” complained Kevin Gill of Boston, Mass.  “We come up every year.  It’s a beautiful view.  But now it’s gone,” he said.

Nick Kling was the Pink Sheet’s best handicapper on the pink day.  Kling selected five winners in the newspaper.

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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