The four or five races worth walking over to the track to see live began shortly after 3:00 PM. You wore a sweater if you wanted to be comfortable. There was an autumn-like chill in the air – another not-so-subtle signal that horseplayers, who consider The Spa Nirvana, have little more than a dozen days left. One week from now, post positions for the Midsummer Derby will be drawn.
Jockeys wearing pink silks didn’t win a race on Fabulous Fillies Day. But a horse with a pink saddlecloth won the fifth. In fact, the fifth race – a 5-furlong sprint on the main course for two-year-old fillies called the NYRA Salutes the Breast Cancer Research Foundation purse - sent seven runners to the post wearing one.
The Todd Pletcher-trained Cynical Storm, ridden by John Velazquez, prevailed over Mallory Street, dampening the spirits of women who wished to see jockey Rosie Napravnik succeed.
The race before, called the NYRA Honors Marylou Whitney purse, was won by Shadwell Stable’s Asiya. Whitney ran Pow Wow Wow in the 6 ½ furlong race, but the daughter of Indian Charlie was struck by the Nick Zito curse. The Hall of Fame trainer has three wins in 26 starts.
Jena M. Antonucci, another trainer without many starts and only one victory, achieved a rare double. She placed two of her runners on Main Track Only lists and both races in which they were entered were switched from the grass to the dirt. Ka-boom, two for two. Antonucci’s Howaboutwe, a NY-Bred colt, won the second race and Currency Union, a filly, won the seventh. Ironically, the sixth and eighth races – both $100,000 stakes - were run on a yielding turf.
Whitney, despite her disappointment in Pow Wow Wow, found another way to be honored. She was feted at the Sizzling Hot Pink Saratoga Hat Luncheon in the At the Rail Pavilion. Benita Zahn, the Channel 13 newswoman, led 180 women and a handful of men, including John Hendrickson in a pink seersucker sport coat, through a wonderful program.
Zahn deserves an Emmy for batting her eyelashes, nodding her head in agreement and pointing her finger like a politician when her co-anchor talks. But, in person, she’s more genuine. “Have a good schmooz,” Zahn said, and they did.
Newswoman Benita Zahn gave a touch of TV star power to the festivities.
Michele Riggi, a Spa City socialite with a jones for dogs – she kennels 36 bow-wows in her North Broadway bastion, is a polarizing figure in the Saratoga Springs community. But there is nothing polarizing about her taste in hats. The one she wore to the luncheon was gorgeous. So, too, were many others at the $150 - $1000 per plate event.
Hats and dogs are what socialite Michele Riggi is known for.
In contrast, anyone wearing the color pink was admitted free to the racecourse. One guy asked if the pink cover on his iPhone would qualify. It did. One woman showed the band of her pink panties to get in.
Pink panties qualify woman for free admission.
Vic Zast has attended the races at Saratoga in 49 straight summers.