Veteran trainer Pat Kelly announced his retirement this week. The backstretch won’t be the same. Here’s one of my favorite Cups of Coffee, Cans and Carrots, written July 29, 2016. Pat Kelly parked his bike, a spray-painted, no-brand beater with a fading Free John Veitch bumper stick, a trash bag on the seat, a brass … Read more
No, Saturday’s Grade I Diana Stakes wasn’t a steeplechase, but it was two steeplechase greats, Augustin Stable’s George Strawbridge Jr. and trainer Jonathan Sheppard, who won the race with Forever Together.
With her head held high, Ginger Punch paraded around the walking ring before the Go For Wand.
Kiaran McLaughlin stood in front of the big-screen television in the Saratoga clubhouse, peering up as his charge Abraaj threatened to drift out of sight as the field for the Grade II Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap hit the three-eighths pole.
Saratoga is about making it. Chad Brown and John Fahey III felt like they had made it when they won their first races at Saratoga.
Condition books don’t come with warning stickers. Perhaps they don’t need them. After all, the trainers who saw Ginger Punch’s name on the nomination list and still entered horses in today’s Grade I Go For Wand knew what they were getting into.
Thor’s Echo peered from his stall at the stakes barn and looked as interested as a Yankees fan listening to Terry Francona talk about his two World Series rings. The 2006 champion sprinter had descended upon the most famous racetrack in the world to run in today’s Grade II Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap . . . big deal.
And finally the turf. The Grade II Lake George provided what the first three days of the meet hadn’t – good old-fashioned turf racing when every move is magnified and trips mean everything.
“Nice article on Chad Brown winning his first race at Saratoga,” John Fahey III said while leaning on the racing office counter Thursday.
“Thanks. I’ll write the same one when you win your first.”
“OK,” Fahey said.
Eoin Harty leaned on the counter of the racing office and tried to occupy his mind. First he leafed through the New York Post with Ashley Dupre on the cover, then he listened to the Pat Reynolds show, then started worrying about last-minute training tweaks.
“Were they a big racing dynasty?”