Here & There: February 7

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Snow, snow and more snow got everyone, including the folks at the New York Racing Association, thinking about springtime, warmer weather and all that anti-winter stuff as we settled into the first week of February and the post-Super Bowl season.

NYRA rolled out plans to add five stakes to the Belmont Stakes program, including the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, to bring that day’s purses to $8 million. Elsewhere, regulators took mini vacations out west and trainers braced for a little more winter whether they happened to be north, south or east.

By the Numbers

1: Race to be run for first time Belmont Stakes weekend, the 2-mile Belmont Gold Cup Invitational for older horses on grass.

3: Sledding runs Wednesday down the hill near High Rock Ave and the Olde Bryan Inn in Saratoga before TIHR’s Tom Law hurt his back.

10: Stakes on Belmont day – Grade 1 Belmont, Metropolitan, Manhattan, Just a Game, Ogden Phipps and Acorn, Grade 2 Brooklyn and Woody Stephens, Grade 3 Jaipur and Easy Goer.

13: Number of races on the Belmont day card.

16: Inches of snow this week in Saratoga Springs.

100,000: Purse of new Intercontinental at 7 furlongs on turf for older females the day after the Belmont.

1.2 million: Purse of the Met Mile for 2014.


Worth Repeating

“2014 is the year of experimentation.” – NYRA President Chris Kay during teleconference to discuss addition of five stakes to Belmont Stakes program.

“This horse had a hind end like a drunk snake.” – Trainer Bruce Fenwick, about a future steeplechaser’s condition when he entered the barn from the racetrack.

“As Arnie always jokes around, I think he’s 96, 97 years old, he says ‘you’re going to make me wait until the fall you’re going to keep me around another six or seven months.’ My goal is to get him to break a million and I’ve got one or two more races with him to do that. Good races. But we’ve got time. That’s why he’s lasted so long. Arne never pressures me. He lets me do the right thing with the horse. He’s been fun.” – Trainer Tim Keefe on Arnie Heft and two-time Maryland Million Classic winner Eighttofasttocatch.

“I’m at Fair Hill. Well, actually I’m on a school run as we speak. Of course the kids seem to have been off school more than on lately.” – Graham Motion, asked if he was in Florida when contacted Thursday afternoon.

“It’s been very difficult with the training to be honest. Every week we miss a couple of days. That makes it a little bit tough.” – Motion on the winter weather this season.

“She’s still a 2-other-than so it gives us a good starting point.” – Trainer Tres Abbott on 2013 Virginia Oaks winner Nellie Cashman, currently in training with him at Palm Beach Downs

“I don’t want to be one of those guys that people say, ‘Tony you’re the only one complaining,’ but you asked me and I answered.” – Tony Dutrow after giving his take on medication violations being a little too relaxed.

“I didn’t start skiing until I was 45, so you’ve still got time.” – Duncan Patterson, chairman of Association of Racing Commissioners International, taking a break from the slopes during a mini vacation in Park City, Utah, after TIHR’s Tom Law explained his lack of participation in winter sports.

“We’re well aware we’ll need to address other weekends.” – Martin Panza, NYRA’s senior vice president of racing operations, on the rest of Belmont’s spring-summer stakes schedule after the changes.