M'ams and Sirs

You know how it is when you board an airplane to Paris at O’Hare and you hear English being spoken on board and you feel secure that you’re among friends even though you’re off to a foreign country?   And then just before landing in Paris you no longer hear English but French and you know that everything’s going to be just a little bit different than it was before for awhile?

Kentucky has come to the East’s finest racecourse.  There’s a polite, gentle tone in the way people greet each other and a preponderance of “M’ams” and “Sirs” in the parlance. This week, horse talk was not about how quickly a colt ran in his latest race or the kind of pace he chased in losing.  It was about the breadth of a colt’s shoulder, the eagle in its eye and the way in which it walks. 

Fasig-Tipton Company has traveled north to Saratoga Springs, NY to sell yearlings for more than three-quarters of the years in which Thoroughbreds have raced here. Topped by a Dynaformer filly that sold on opening night for $1,225,000, the company’s annual Saratoga sale nearly kept pace with the two-day results posted the previous year and had a median price hike for the horses sold. 

One of Saratoga's most precious traditions are the Yearling Sales.

The evening hours were crystalline on Monday and Tuesday – so clear you could feel the air squeak. There was frost on the heath – temps in the lower 50s during sleeping hours, just the way that horses like it. The big crowd that came to the Humphrey S. Finney pavilion saw the sport at its finest without watching a race.  

In the category that counts most with the majority of fans on the grounds – namely food, Mazzone Hospitality has hit its full stride as the area’s best caterer.  An anorexic could order from Mazzone’s delectable menu and would say, “More.”  The fish tacos were to die for.

Mazzone has made horse auction catering an art.

Augie’s in nearby Ballston Spa, the popular Italian eatery where each portion meets its end in a doggy bag, burned down.  It’ll be back on its feet in about the same time that it took to get a table.  Pray now that nothing happens to Pasta Pane in Clifton Park, NY.  Customers get 15% off the price of their pasta with the presentation of a Saratoga losing ticket from the same day they dine.

Hall of Fame rider Edgar Prado gave a vintage performance on Qushchi to win the Waya.  The British-born mare by an Australian sire sprinted clear of the field in the final 1/16 mile.  Backers of the Jonathan Sheppard-trained Angel Terrace believed that interference was at play in forcing Angel Terrace to check. There indeed was an inquiry.

The card featured another stakes. But the race that raised eyebrows was a maiden special weights 7-furlong sprint for two-year-olds.  Todd Pletcher, surmounting a seemingly uncatchable lead in the meet’s leading trainer’s competition, sent out King Cyrus to an 11-length victory.

Vic Zast has attended the races at Saratoga for 49 straight summers.  For a period of five years as a perfume industry executive, he flew 18 times a year from Chicago to Paris.

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