Back in the Bluegrass

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Plenty’s changed in the six months that have passed since we packed up the rented moving van, pulled out of the driveway on the south side of town, pointed north and put Lexington in our rear-view mirrors.

I knew we’d be back someday. It’s hard to imagine working in any capacity in the Thoroughbred industry and not coming to Lexington. Even harder to imagine not coming back in the area we called home for at least a visit. There are a few reasons for the return, and no it’s not a permanent one.

There’s family and friends, meetings with clients, retailers and friends of the ST Publishing family and of course there’s racing.

Took in the day’s events Wednesday on a day that seemed like it would have fit better a few weeks earlier during a trip overseas to Ireland than Central Kentucky in the fall, but such is life this time of year in the Bluegrass.

The rain couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the 8,253 that turned out, even thought the general consensus during training hours Thursday morning was that the results were a bit puzzling and perplexing.

Winners like Savvy N Speightful ($15.80) in the first, Snit Fit ($17.80) in the third, Midnight Sweetie ($24.40) in the fifth, Turncoat ($41.40) in the sixth and Bailoutbobby ($32.80) in the seventh will do that to horseplayers, but fans of the chalk got bailed out in the late double when Tabreed won the eighth and Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Golden Galaxy won the finale.

A quick check of the connections of Bailoutbobby revealed a familiar name if not a familiar face. Conor Murphy trained the winner, a 3-year-old Mizzen Mast colt he recently got back from Doug O’Neill after a short stint in Southern California. The victory in the starter allowance going 10 furlongs on the Polytrack was the first at Keeneland for Murphy.

The former head stable man for Nicky Henderson struck out on his own here in the U.S. shortly after he cashed a serious bet in a five-horse accumulator to take home about $1.6 million during last year’s Cheltenham Festival.

“That was great, wasn’t it?” Murphy said as he walked out of the Keeneland winner’s circle for the first time in an official capacity in the afternoon. “When I looked up and saw he was 30-1 I thought that was a little long … and I was also surprised to see him win that easily.”

So, like I said, plenty is new here in the Bluegrass.

Two races later served up a contrast as Golden Galaxy bailed out the Ramseys, blanked with their first four starters on the day. Ramsey touted his horse – of course he did – and called his shot.

“Glad you stuck around, I’m about to lead one in,” Ramsey quipped before the $10,000 claiming race. “I stuck around, and darn near caught pneumonia out here in the rain.”

On cue, Golden Galaxy delivered, the mare’s 11th victory in 17 career starts and fifth from nine this year. She was also the ninth win of the meet for the Ramseys, well on their way to another leading owner title here in Lexington.

Like I said, even thought a lot has changed here in the Bluegrass, there’s still plenty that remains the same.