Sunday, August 30, 2009

Our last night in Saratoga for this year

Today was Travers Day. A mass of bodies surrounded us wherever we went.

We must have been sitting in the right place because the New York Racing Association people kept bringing out the various trophies for each race and had to pass our box. Then, NY Governor David Paterson stopped by our box to shake hands on his way to the Winner’s Circle and on his return, I kidded him about his not returning with one of the trophies. He told us that the trophy for the Belmont was much heavier than the one for the Travers and after the Belmont, he had to hold it for quite a while when the TV network was doing commercials. He found it quite difficult. So, he said he worked out before the Travers to be ready but it turned out he didn’t need to. I told him I saw him flipping the Travers trophy up. He said it only weighed about 5 pounds. When he left I imagined having a similar conversation with his predecessor (NOT).

Thursday night we attended the Travers Celebration at the Racetrack which is a benefit for two charities. They had a silent auction. As the deadline for bids neared, I found myself in a bidding war for a piece of art with Virginia Payson. She could eat my assets for breakfast but she kept pressing the bid only $100 at a time. When one of the administrators said the auction was over, my last bid was the apparent winning one. However, not to be outdone, Mrs. Payson put down another bid. The administrator saw her do that and took the bid sheet to the charity director. In the meantime, because Mrs. Payson was making such a ruckus, I told her if she would up her bid substantially, I’d let her have it for the good of the charity. Then I took it on the chin from Rhoda for not getting the painting. She really liked it. Oy!

The lady with all the dogs was also there. I mentioned that I would expand on the charity event she threw at her house. However, I think if you go to the website, you’ll get an appreciation:

Ahvee’s Destiny’s race was postponed until Wednesday. I guess with all the rain we had here, it is a good thing. However, we are not remaining. We’re weighing the possibility of just coming back for the race. It’s a tough one with both Smart and Fancy and Canadian Ballet entered. This time we’re in post position 6 with Smart and Fancy to our inside in PP 4 and Canadian Ballet outside in #8. We’ll see how it plays out.

So, tomorrow, we pack up, say goodbye to Ahvee’s Destiny and Conseated Lady and make our way home. Part of us looks forward to returning. Part of us will miss our Saratoga friends and the horses. We won’t miss Linda too much because we didn’t get to spend much time with her. Last year we spent lots of time with her. I think that is one of the reasons this year’s experience was different than last year’s. I know that is true for me.

It was nice to have some of you visit. I know it enhanced our time here. Hope you enjoyed it!

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Friday, August 28, 2009

The Walking Wounded

Arielle’s Song and Katy’s Office Girl left Saratoga today for Belmont. Then, they will proceed to Florida. Katy will be turned out for 60 days and re-evaluated. Training is putting too much stress on her knees, so we have to let her body growth catch up.

Arielle’s Song has a splint problem that is not resolving quickly. The pain needs to quiet down. Then they will either inject the area or freeze fire it, Figure 6 weeks, though she doesn’t do things timely. Since she is a Florida bred and Katy likes the grass better than dirt, they will both probably be pointing to racing in Florida.

Holy Blitzer remains on vacation in Florida where she will hopefully show signs of a full recovery soon but who really knows.

Hear the Footsteps will resume training at Belmont next month and we’ll have to closely observe any negative effect. Otherwise, we hope he will be able to race this year, somewhere.

Conseated Lady remains in training until she shows more lameness. If that happens, we will get a nuclear scan done to try and diagnose the cause of her soreness problem, which is not easily determined as yet.

Ahvee’s Destiny Sunday Stakes race is not happening on Sunday. Maybe Monday. Maybe Wednesday. If Monday, we’ll stay here and skip Jim’s golf tournament. If Wednesday, we’ll return over the weekend, play golf and see what to do for Wednesday.

Sometimes everything is easy. Sometimes, ain’t nothin’ easy.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fun with Horses or...

The Perils of Friendship.

Here’s how today went… This morning we found out Conseated Lady was “off a tick” but would still compete today. Katy’s Office Girl was off more than a tick and has a problem in her right front leg. We’ll know the result of an X-Ray tomorrow. A rider from another stable had trouble controlling his horse and our friends’ beautiful car took the brunt of a horse kick in the rear. The Tom Durkin visit that we planned for our friends was canceled because he went to a funeral in Chicago. And, finally, Conseated Lady didn’t look good in her debut and finished 5th. Boo!

A lovely day in Saratoga but I was walking under a cloud.

John Velasquez, who has ridden Ahvee’s Destiny to two stakes victories will be aboard for her race next Sunday. That’s good! Ahvee’s Destiny’s half-sister (same mom), Beam of Love, came in 3rd in the feature race. That’s not bad.

Hopefully, more good news to come.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Conseated Lady's first race

She’s 3 years old and has never run. She’s scheduled for her first race on Monday, August 24th. Hopefully, since it’s Jonathan’s birthday, she will get a bit of good luck from that special occasion. Because Linda Rice is the leading trainer at the Saratoga racing meet, we are a 3-1 favorite. This is hardly what you’d expect from a horse that’s taken so long to get to the racetrack but I hope they’re right and she wins! And, no, I didn’t spell conceited, I spelled conseated… her sire in CONgaree and her dam is SEATtle Stardust. Hence, CONSEATed Lady.

Linda got stepped on by a horse she was saddling in the paddock last week. She neglected to take aggressive action and got a bad infection. She is now being treated with IV antibiotics. It’s not worth being the leader trainer, if you lose a foot.

We went to a great concert at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Marvin Hamlisch, Richard’s old friend, conducted the Philadelphia Philharmonic and played piano to Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, the Gershwins and his own music. His patter was interesting and often funny and the music was great!

Yesterday was the first time I can remember the spectators at a racetrack applauding the whole field of horses when six of them finished across the track at the finish line of yesterday’s ninth race. There was a nose between each of the first four finishers and couldn’t have been much more between the other two. Unfortunately, our friend Ziggie’s horse trained by Linda finished in the third position.

Some 100 people, including us, went to see Rachel Alexandra, the super filly, workout at 6AM in the fog. We saw her win the Mother Goose at Belmont by 12 lengths. She’s got star power.

We went to see Tom Durkin, America’s premier race caller, in his booth high above the Saratoga Race Track. We’ve been getting our guests to go too, so they can see how he memorizes all the horses’ names before each race and what he does to make his race call happen. He’s a very colorful character and it’s a very interesting and entertaining experience.

I expected to write a bit more frequently. My apologies. I’ve been under the weather. Plus, we are shooting part of a TV commercial in Washington, DC this week.

This week is Travers week. The Travers is the most important race of the Saratoga season. $1,000,000 purse, 1 ¼ miles. Everyone is still waiting to hear if Rachel Alexandra will actually run.

It’s also our last week. Hopefully, Ahvee’s Destiny will run next Sunday and give us a win at the end of our season at Saratoga. We know she’ll be trying!

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Half-way mark

No question life is more normalized than the silver-lined cloud we lived under last year. There is still magic but it is tempered by the usual frustrations of life… things go wrong, security people exercise power, the warmth we felt from the stable staff last year is more tepid… I could go on and on, but who wants to hear about the frustrations we all experience?

So, let’s talk about the fun things. It’s nice to see Linda leading the Trainers list with 10 victories. Our friends’ horse, Mother Russia, won a $150,000 stakes. Like Ahvee’s Destiny, she survived a late charge by a competitor to get to the finish line first. Awakino Cat, a colt turf sprinter, won this year’s version of the race Ahvee’s Destiny won last year.

We went to a benefit for a new dog hospital where the person throwing the benefit spent more on the party than was raised from the attendees. This event could use its own e-mail to describe. Hope I get the chance to talk about it further.

Last night we saw the Doobie Brothers and the Allman Bros. Band. Rhoda, says they’re all old men. Glad she doesn’t say that about me (to my face, at least!).

I used to be a good handicapper. Now, like the stock market, it seems I should put put a newsletter on my picks with the advice to my readers to avoid my selections. Of course, if they start paying out for coming in last, I might become wealthy. Lucky I have Ahvee’s Destiny.

Much more to tell…

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Monday, August 17, 2009

One week complete

Day one, our first race pitted two friends’ horses against the field. Patsy’s horse, Fort McCoy won.

Ahvee’s Destiny’s victory was the highlight of day 2 and the whole trip. I got a DVD of the race which shows her after the race galloping out and pulling up. She tripped while slowing down. It was pretty scary to see but she’s doing well. Sunday night we went to the high-end yearling sale. Over 2 nights $55 million was spent. What bad economy? $2.8MM was the sale topper. Most of the highest sales were done by Sheik Mohammed. He also owns the auctioneer firm.

The rest of the week was spent seeing horses each morning, feeding them carrots and trying out some new treats. Katy’s Office Girl isn’t even eating carrots yet but she’s trying things. One of her front baby teeth has been pushed out and the adult tooth not half-way in yet. This certainly makes it difficult to chew hard food. She’s sampling, though. We shopped in the afternoon one Tuesday when the track was closed.

Our friends from Obviously NY Stable had an entry in the featured $150,000 race and she won. Linda has been having a great meet. She currently has the most wins.

Yesterday, I played golf. Started with a birdie. Usually the only birds I see during my golf round are vultures looking at the dead meat they see below, so you can understand how miraculous was my birdie. Some thought it was even more special than the miracle on the Hudson, though I know better. Last night, we went to an affair for the Double H Ranch, Paul Newman and Charles Woods’ place for kids, at the Great Escape. I would have loved to go on some rides but no one else did. They had a live auction and we participated.

We saw Conseated Lady and Katy’s Office Girl breeze on the turf. Both worked well. Katy was much better on the grass than on the dirt. Hopefully, they will have their first races before the end of the meet. Ahvee’s Destiny is aiming at a race on the 30th.

More to come…

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Monday, August 10, 2009

You can't come home again...

Yes, that’s how I was feeling. We arrived yesterday and there was one small frustration after another. Nothing big, but different than the magic of last year… The owner of our house was supposed to leave a crate for Jose. She didn’t. She moved the PC sites and didn’t tell us. The track was very crowded. We couldn’t get seating. When we went to Linda’s stable, it was so busy, I had to park elsewhere. So, we missed seeing Conseated Lady train. The NY Racing Assn. liaison office gave us separate boxes, so our guests were separated from us. It was cloudy and threatening to rain (and they might have had to take the race off the turf, which means we would probably have scratched). Like I said, no big deals, just not the magic of last year. So, I assumed this would carry over to Ahvee’s Destiny’s race today. But…

I WAS WRONG! She ran near the front from the outset. We were worried because in her early races, this meant she’d get caught from behind. However, when she got into the stretch, she lengthened her lead. Looking really good. Looking really good… but here comes her nemesis, Smart and Fancy… and she’s coming fast. Her lead’s down to two lengths – when will the wire come – it’s down to a length, a ½ length, a neck and then, mercifully, the wire. SHE WINS IT! And, gets some payback from two prior defeats by Smart and Fancy. As Shelly S. said, too bad they don’t run in Saratoga year round. That’s her fourth Saratoga victory in a row!! How can you help but love that horse, who not only has talent but lots of heart .

So, maybe this trip will be different. But not if Ahvee’s Destiny has anything to say about it. She brought back the magic today, as she has done so many times in the past. Thank you, horsie, YOU ARE THE BEST!

You guys are the best too. Thanks for all the support.

Sincerely, Avi (without the “H”)

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Thursday, August 6, 2009


I thought Smart and Fancy was trouble. It turns out there’s an even better horse, named Secret Gypsy, who’s already won a graded stakes race and faster speed ratings. OY!

Wish us luck. We’ll need it!

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The action has started at Saratoga and, for us, in our preparations. We’re packing… trying to figure out how we’re going to transport 3 weeks’ worth of “stuff,” including Jose and his accoutrements.

We’ve got lots of activities scheduled; from balloon rides to amusement parks, from Golf to charity events and lots of dining out! Most important – the horsies!

Ahvee’s Destiny is scheduled to race 5 ½ furlongs on Sunday against her nemesis, Smart and Fancy, and 10 other good horses, including Patsy’s Meriwether Jessica as well as two others from Linda’s barn, Mohegan Sky and Karakorum Elektra. Johnny Velasquez is up in the irons, as he was for her Saratoga victory last year. She seems to have totally healed from her sore foot and ran a fast 4 furlong workout earlier this week. It’s almost 3 months since her last race. Hopefully, her coming out of post 3 will be of some advantage, relative to Smart and Fancy, who is coming from the #10 post.

We’ll be seeing all the others and have a large variety of horse treats waiting for them at the home we rent up there. When I did this for Ahvee’s Destiny three years ago, she didn’t eat a single one. I’ll bet your figuring that I’ll eat them even if the horse don’t want them! How could you think such a thing… okay, maybe I’ll taste one or two. I’ll save the rest for Johnna’s arrival, if the horses don’t eat them. It’s not that I think Wayne is a candidate, but I know she may have ideas on horse feed that may be useful in getting the horses interested in these treats.

Can you feel my excitement? I’m already anxious about Ahvee’s race (and all the packing, etc.). More to come from Saratoga Springs. YAY!

Have a great weekend. Last year Ahvee’s Destiny won her stakes race the day after we arrived. The victory started the trip off with a bang and we were flying for the entire two weeks. Is it too much to wish for a similar beginning? Go, Ahvee’s Destiny!

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