Saratoga Springs, NY--August 4, 2007

Dear Diary,

Looks like the gates all finished for the morning, said clocker Cole Rosen from his post, the five-eighths pole on the main track. Havent been doing too much gambling. Aint [Bill] Mott havin a hell of a meet?


The Chief sashayed over on his stable pony, caught the end of the conversation and just started talking. Thats the way it is with racetrackers: Seen you yesterday. Know you a long time. Why waste words?

Had this horse we claimed one time and couldnt do any good. Right here at Saratoga. So I told [exercise rider] Jay to break him off right here, go an eighth of a mile as fast as you can, then pull him right up.

Did it three mornings in a row. He won by a desperate head, said Allen Jerkens, the youngest man voted into the Hall of Fame until Bill Mott was the youngest man voted into the Hall of Fame.

As quickly and quietly as the Chief left, a golf cart full of Kellys rolled up. Pat was driving. T.J., Hall of Famer since 93, was riding shotgun. Again, no greeting, just a smile. Some guy was telling me about a speech hes making for Johnny Sellers at the Hall of Fame Monday, T. J. said.

Told him the only thing Sellers ever did for me was beat me a head in the Preakness, extending his hands two feet apart to indicate the losing margin. They called it a neck. I think it was more like a head. Probably the best race Globemaster ever ran. But that was a good horse Jack Price had.

Didnt think Carry Back could win the Derby from so far back. But Johnny Longden had that Four and Twenty colt from California and he and Globey went a half in forty-four and one. At the eighth pole they both got rubber legged.

How old are you? Tommy Kelly asked Cole, now stepping off the stand. Seventy-nine. If I make it to my next birthday Ill be eighty-eight. Old Doc checked out my pacemaker Wednesday. Said itll last another seven years. Im good to ninety-five anyway.

The Chief and the pony were back. Hey Al, that problem you had in the hospital in Florida that time, that all fixed?

Know what I think it was? said the Chief. Celebrex. Everybody said it was the greatest thing

Then the Chief was gone. Again. Kelly continued I remember when I bought Globemaster. He was out of a good mare. Mr. Sasso gave me fifty thousand to buy five horses. Bought one for eighty instead. I was up half the night trying to explain how we bought a good horse.

The Chief was back. Again. Globemasters fourth dam, who she was by? Kelly asked Jerkens.

By Piano, out of Tune, the Chief said.

Everybody smiled.

Clearly overmatched, thought Id add something to the conversation. Sure is a nice morning.

Every morning in Saratogas a nice morning, T.J. said.

Now it was time for the Kellys to go. Ever the gentleman, I told TJ give my regards to Mary.

Mary? You mean Fran. Goodnight, said T.J., rolling his eyes, the golf cart on its way back to barn 23.

* * *

First Race: How to snatch defeat from victorys jaws? Take a widening two lengths lead passed the eighth pole, stop trying, then watch as Brooker D and Kent Desormeaux charge up the fence, Desormeaux celebrating with right-handed arm-pumps. And that was a two-lifers $25K claimer; what if he wins something really big? Sunny Boy n Ben E follows winner up the rail for third. That might be the place.

Second Race: Mott, Mott, Mott! This win with a first-timer. And thats anti-profile. But there was his horse, an A.P. Indy colt out of stakes-winning Dream Supreme, which Mott trained. Majestic Warrior did not break sharply from the rail post, but Johnny V. rode with extreme confidence, tipping wide in mid-stretch before rolling home. Mott sent first-timer out without a stable pony. Good to know some guys still know how to do it old school. Colt has a future; follow progress. The victory came moments after A Rods 500th home run. That wouldnt matter except that George Steinbrenner owns both the colt and the player, for the rest of the year, anyway Newcomer Ready Set, an $ 800,000 purchase by Lael Stable/Michael Matz was going well late for third and should benefit; note. Well bet Nick Zito newcomer Web Gem battled on hot pace throughout and tired perceptibly.

Third Race: Teuflesberg is pretty amazing, a throw-back racehorse that old-timers would say could run over broken glass. But he settled for a game second in his turf debut while the pace was heating up; the race should serve as a prep for the Grade 1 Kings Bishop back on dirt Travers Day. Meantime, the score went to strong finishing Pays To Dream for David Donk and Javier Castellano. Three-year-old takes the Glow overnight stakes for owner December Hill Farm, nom de course of the late NYRA Board Chairman, Allen Dragone.

Fourth Race: Perhaps the most contentious race on a contentious card. Cornelio Velasquez allowed contenders Ministers Appeal ad Elusive Value to fire their best early on, waiting until the eighth pole to get busy in earnest aboard Silver Source, drawing away late from a stubborn Temecula Creek. Third finisher Shone might have been closer except for lugging in at that point.

Fifth Race: Lhotse Quality appeared to make a winning move into the land but drifted and continued to drift while tiring. Meanwhile, Kid Doc and Cant Refuse began their rallies and just as it appeared Kid Doc would get there, the late surge of Cant Refuse got the job done under a well timed late move from Jean Luc Samyn. Samyn on the green still works.

Sixth Race: It took a while to make official but Texas Elegance got it done, lugging in, then drifting out through the final sixteenth, the stewards apparent deciding that the winner wasnt the only culprit doing the stretch bob and weave. Back To Mandalay finished well late and was clearly best of the remainder; bet back with similar group.

Seventh Race: The entire group got a riding lesson from Ramon Dominguez here. A quality field going two turns, Dominguez put them all to sleep, pulled the rug out from under the field approaching the quarter pole and stole this with Three In The Bag despite a final sixteenth of over 14 seconds. The Hambo horses probably came home faster It was a very good effort from Dr. Pleasure returning from a one-year layup, making a run at the leader through the stretch but tiring late. Hell be much tougher next time out but probably will need another before hell be ready for Prime Time competition.

Eighth Race: Tom Bush doing it again at Saratoga. Again with longshots. This time, Sensational Humor snuck up inside War Monger in deep stretch, gained the advantage, and held gamely late. Course lover Oedipus ONeal stalked comfortable fractions from close range and retreated. Very disappointing effort, that.

The Darley Test: On paper, there was loads of speed in this storied seven furlong sprint for three-year-old fillies. But on the racetrack, it was Dream Rush, alone on a clear lead, 22-and 44ing-it midway to the turn, tripped the timer in 1:08.94 for three-quarters, and remained clear to the wire in 1:22.42. Boca Grande finished like a rocket down the center of the course to nail Baroness Thatcher at the wire for the place. It was the second straight Grade 1 win for Dream Rush, who sits atop the filly sprint division all by her lonesome. Thats just the way she likes her races, too Second choice Cotton Blossom never picked up her feet at any time in a dismal performance.

Tenth Race: Todd Pletcher favorite Sweet Brush life and death to get home first in the finale, then life and death to withstand a claim of foul. Now I had a small late-double ticket live to the favorite. And I would have had to take her number down. She bore in inside the sixteenth pole and knocked the game Speaking Out off stride. There was no change in the order of finish. Second and third fillies, Into The Wind and Skip Dattt, both finished boldly. The latter gets extra credit for finishing well between horses; follow both.

Bias Report: Track fast, favored no discernable style. Turf firm, closers advantage.