Monday, the final day of Alabama Stakes (gr. I) Week, saw 14,817 people come out for the races. The energy produced on the weekend – a memorable weekend of sport - was drained from the premises. The atmosphere was quiet, like the scent of lavender. By Friday, if not sooner, the juice will be back. It is Travers Week and the three-year-old crop, unlike the tomatoes, is ripe.
Racecourse crowd considerably thinned after Alabama weekend.
Today, post positions will be drawn in the walking ring for Saturday’s Travers Stakes (gr. I) and the field will be hailed as the best in a decade. Barring last minute changes, it undoubtedly will be.
Rosie Napravnik continues to excel in the irons. The country’s leading female jockey was riveted on guiding the 9-2 Sheer Drama for Tony Dutrow home first in the second race. Sheer Drama defeated the 3-5 Flores Island, a chronic false favorite that’s now finished second or third in six of her seven starts.
Rosie almost stole the third race on a 12-1 shot. But a lone stalker named Make the Moment emerged in the nick of time. The Charlton Baker-owned and trained Indygo Shiner filly was the winner of the second of five NY-Bred races including the $100,000 Union Avenue Stakes. The six furlong sprint was named the Ulysses S. Grant Cottage purse. The ex-president, neatly bearded and sober, for a change, was on hand to present the trophy. While in office, he might have stolen it and sold it for his own personal gain.
President Ulysses S. Grant (left) and his son Jesse visit the racecourse.
Horseplayers were really stuck with a practical choice of two in the Union Avenue – a pace-setting speedball named Clear Pasaj and a pace-chasing closer named Willet. The closer with Joel Rosario aboard won. The lack of competition created a short-priced exacta.
Eriugena drew in from the Also Eligible list and won the sixth race. Mike Maker, acting on behalf of Ken and Sarah Ramsey, claimed the son of the German sire Shirocco on August 2. Substitute race caller John Imbriale became confused as the field hit the final turn. But he sharply picked up on Rosario’s mount as it knifed between leaders in mid-stretch. It was Rosario’s third victory in a row and his most daring ride.
Napravnik struck again in the ninth, after everyone forgot the hardworking redhead was hot. She rode She’s Not Lazy to victory at 19-1.
Contrary to complaints about the price of concessions on facebook, you can buy a hot dog for $5 at the Diablo Dogs stand in the second-floor clubhouse. Another good $5 item is the Manhattan clam chowder, lower-level of the clubhouse near the 1/8 pole.
Chicagoans garnish hot dogs without ketchup or sauerkraut.
Green Island, NY postponed its public hearing about limiting the number of dogs a homeowner can keep to three in one house. Saratoga Springs has no limit on dogs. Michele Riggi keeps 36 in her North Broadway palazzo. Where she kept her precious pets during her $1000 per ticket gala to benefit the Mariano Rivera Foundation, with Yankee pitcher Riviera in attendance, on Monday night is unknown.
Horse racing’s poet laureate and Secretariat chronicler Bill Nack is the guest speaker of the Historical Society at the Canfield Casino tonight.
Vic Zast has attended the races at Saratoga for 49 straight summers. He has several favorite Travers, but Holy Bull’s, Birdstone’s and last year’s dead heat are near the top.