Dear Diary, Deity willing, it won’t be long now. At this moment next week, Baby Gray, Toni’s nickname for our Beetle Turbo convertible, will be in a queue with his friends awaiting loading onto Amtrak’s Auto-Train.
Round trip with a sleeping berth, as opposed to a coach seat or bedroom suite, comes out approximately $700 cheaper than renting an inexpensive intermediate-size car for the month of August in Saratoga.
And that doesn’t include round-trip airfare. It’s a world gone mad, but this doesn’t qualify as news.
Like any other so-called middle-class American, it’s been a challenge. Not being bitchy here–well, maybe a little–but after working hard, raising a family, etc., etc., semi-retirement could have been a tad easier.
I don’t know how the less fortunate, or flat-out poor, do it. This hype machine still refers to America as the land of opportunity.” Sadly, I don’t see rocket trips to Mars anywhere in my future.
But Saratoga is about the past, and the present. Saratoga-154 already has produced remarkable moments between the fences. I will be there to witness the Whitney confrontation of Life Is Good vs. Olympiad, live.
Also, the storied Travers, where the mind’s eye envisions a resurgent Epicenter vs. the Chad armada and other very talented sophomore runners in a deeper by the moment, entertaining division.
Obviously, there is the Alabama and Personal Ensign, too. The latter will feature Clairiere 2.0, whose pedigree suggested improved development with maturity. That point was underscored over the weekend.
And what of Malathaat? Both Todd and Johnny said that the filly was not herself, for whatever reason. Pletcher’s horses, like any other mortal horseman, get beaten, but very rarely are they empty. The real Malathaat was a no show or simply has not gone forward at 4. More racing will tell.
Meanwhile, Steve Asmussen is on a mission. One already was accomplished when Clairiere caught up developmentally to her vaunted rival.
So now the winningest trainer in history wants to grab the Travers trophy vengefully with Epicenter, proving he was right all along about his colt’s special qualities.
Can’t wait to see Epicenter, Chad’s crew, Toddy’s crew, and Brad Cox’s new sophomore wonder, Cyberknife. Yes, the names are too familiar. So recall the cliche: Hate the player, love the game.
Life is too short and hate requires too much energy. So, warts and all, we’ll concentrate on love for the game’s traditions. And it’s all that more meaningful when you can reach out and touch them for real.
Ed. Note: HRI is taking two travel days early next week
G2 HONORABLE MISS HANDICAP
The Skinny: Pardon us, but this “handicap’ is, if weights are a measure, perilously close to allowance conditions. No one “pays” for victories any more. A true handicap spread with high-weights toting 126 pounds, at minimum, might attract more than four horses. Still, here’s the thing:
The brilliant Bella Sofia (1-2) is the deserving highweight, seeking her third straight but the $500 G1 Ballerina beckons. a significantly better prize for last year’s G1 Test winner at the same trip.
Frank’s Rockette (2-1) was head-bob behind her but picks up a pound even though Bella Sofia won another race in the interim and ‘Rockette’ has eight placings on her card to match her win total, Maybe Prat magic will prove a difference when these two meet.
Now the speed of the race, Amadevil (12-1) gets eight pounds on neither favorite can use her as a prompter, allowing her to get comfortable. With a switch to Jose Ortiz, the assumption is that Ortiz the Younger will be quarter-horsing out of there.
The Interesting thing about Kimari (4-1), value notwithstanding, is that in the three races on her page in which she raced fresh, she won all three.
Kimari (123) comes in off an 81-day break, owns the best late kick of the three high-weights, an advantageous outside slip, giving Joel Rosario all the options, assuming a fakir start for all.
DESERVING FAVORITE: Bella Sofia
EARLY LINE VALUE: Kimari
STRAIGHT WAGER AND EXOTICA: Kimari to win at 4-1 or greater. Exacta Key-box Kimari with both favorites.