SARATOGA THOUGHTS

1. Ken Ramsey must be the most astute owner in American racing. On Saturday afternoon he won three Grade 1 turf races: the Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga with Big Blue Kitten; the Arlington Million in Chicago with Real Solution (on a disqualification of The Apache); and the Secretariat Stakes, also at Arlington Park, with Admiral Kitten. All three winners are homebreds by Mr. Ramsey’s stallion Kitten’s Joy.

According to my calculations, Mr. Ramsey’s cut of the purses was $1.26 million (before paying his trainers and jockeys).

Ken Ramsey is a self-made man from a small town in Eastern Kentucky’s Appalachia region whose entrepreneurial skills have been demonstrated in several industries, including horse racing and breeding.

2. The Grade 1 Sword Dancer was the most competitive stake of the day at Saratoga with 12 starters on the turf at 1 ½ miles. The Grade 1 Alabama was disappointing because only five fillies turned out for a $600,000 race. A handful of fillies in a premier race at America’s oldest racetrack is not an impressive showcase for national television.

3. In Saturday’s first race at Saratoga for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up, a $20,000 claiming race on the turf, the fifth-place finisher Heading to Toga, ridden by Jose Espinoza, broke down immediately after the wire. The injury (to a front leg) was horrific and jockey Espinoza was carried off on a stretcher. Some spectators went quiet whereas others were visibly shaken up and cried out or moaned. I was near the rail across from the finish line, when several college-age women asked me to explain what would happen to Heading to Toga. About that time, the equine ambulance arrived, along with the dreaded screen behind which the filly was euthanized. I struggled with my explanation, as it is never easy to say that some fatal breakdowns are inevitable.

It is reprehensible that many in the racing industry resist changes in track surfaces (synthetic is safest and the evidence is irrefutable) and medication policies that would reduce the number of breakdowns. Anyone who is not troubled by the high incidence of breakdowns does not have a heart.

4. The new Whitney viewing stand at the Oklahoma training track provides a clear look at workouts and is open to the public. This is a very nice addition.

5. The Reading Room is a private turf club adjacent to the Saratoga Race Course. While walking by the clubhouse I noticed a sign prohibiting cell phone use. This is refreshing in an age when cell phones ring intrusively in restaurants, at concerts, and almost everywhere.

6. Banners proudly proclaiming 150 years of Saratoga racing are displayed all over town. The pugilist and politician John Morrissey surely could not have dreamed what he wrought when he founded the racetrack in 1863.

Copyright © 2013 Horse Racing Business

Speak Your Mind

*