Backstretch With Gordon: Week two begins!

Gordon Waterstone

Lexington, KY —┬áThe first week of Grand Circuit racing at The Red Mile is in the books and it’s now time to move on to week two. The weather forecast for Lexington this week looks to be great, with highs in the low 70s all week until a mild cool down to the low 60s on the weekend. And that of course is when racing is set to resume, with 1 p.m. programs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

And of course we are all looking forward to Sunday’s card that is highlighted by the Kentucky Futurity for 3-year-old trotters. Also on that card will be an appearance by the sport’s number one horse Bulldog Hanover, who stretched his impressive winning streak to 11 last Saturday night in the Dayton Pacing Derby at Hollywood Dayton. More on Bulldog in a bit.

The breakfast table was back in action on Monday and Cindy Solverson told me the offerings were sponsored by the trainers who sponsor The Deck. Gordon Waterstone photo.

The breakfast table was back in action on Monday and Cindy Solverson told me the offerings were sponsored by the trainers who sponsor The Deck. The chairs and sofa at The Deck were full Monday, but there was also a nice gathering under the adjacent Tree of Knowledge. I’ve spent many a morning under that Tree of Knowledge hoping to gain some knowledge.

There was also a nice gathering of people nearby, and I realized that it was the French group of about 30 who are in town this week for some touring, racing and sale. Trainer Debbie Daquet, a native of France, was being interviewed by a member of the French TV media. The Hambletonian Society’s Moira Fanning was there giving some guidance, steering them toward the barn of Jim Campbell, where Hambletonian champ Cool Papa Bell and Hambletonian Oaks winner Fashion Schooner reside.

Also there was my USTA co-worker Wendy Ross and her dog Stella. Wendy keeps a pace I could never match as it seems she’s at a different racetrack every day shooting video clips for the USTA’s social media pages. I also ran into Wendy a bit later in the morning as she talked with Andy Miller, who had waved me over to grab a donut from the two big boxes he had on the table. Thanks Andy for the donut.

Wire To Wire Wealth’s Matt Franklin walked by and said hello. I decided to take a different route through the barn area and walked along the backside where a gorgeous brindle colored dog came barking at me. I’m very grateful that the dog’s leash kept him from reaching me.

Devon Tharps yelled over at me so I went over to chat with him for a second. I got confused though as he was wearing a helmet with the name of Randy Tharps, one of Devon’s older brothers. Devon saw the look of confusion in my eyes and he assured me he was Devon and not Randy.

Trainer Paul Kelley called me over and said he thought he’d see me at dinner last night as I was invited to join him. I had made the decision to stay home on Sunday and regenerate for the second week so I declined the invite. Paul and I talked a few minutes, joined briefly by Ray Schnittker. Paul was directly across from where Bulldog Hanover is stabled in the Dewayne Minor barn so it was an easy walk there.

So I headed over to see Bulldog Hanover, who was a monster yet again in his win Saturday in Dayton. Trainer Jack Darling, who also co-owns the world champion with Brad Grant, had just come off the track after jogging Bulldog, so as he saw me walking up to the barn he came and greeted me. I’ve known Jack for more than 40 years so I couldn’t be happier for him as he is really enjoying the ride Bulldog is taking him on.

Johnny, who is Darling’s assistant who has been traveling with Bulldog Hanover, told me it was after 3 a.m. when they finally arrived back at The Red Mile after the Dayton race. The race itself went off near midnight, and Johnny said after the first post-race blood test was taken immediately after the race, they had to wait 90 minutes for a second test to be taken. He said it was 1:20 a.m. when that test was taken, and he and Bulldog then left immediately south down I-75 to Lexington. I told Johnny he made great time getting back and he noted that there was no traffic at that time of day.

It was then time to head out and as I began my walk back trainer Tony Alagna came by me, followed by several other members of the Alagna barn right behind. Dave Menary was tending to a horse outside his barn and he waved hello.

Veterinarian Dr. Karl Nagle drove past so he stopped, asking me how my young cat was as I had spoken to Karl about Willow last week. I told him she’s still not feeling great and he wished me and Willow well. Trackman Greg then drove by and said hello, and then I finally made my way to the parking lot.

There is no rain forecast for the entire week, and while we need the rain here in the Bluegrass, at this point let’s hold off until next week.

Remember that the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale at Fasig-Tipton gets underway tonight at 7 p.m. I’m looking forward to it, especially with Hunterton Farm selling 22 yearlings tonight. As always, one of my first stops will be to see Hunterton’s Steve and Cindy Stewart and wish them well. They are easy to find as they have two chairs set up in prime position in the back ring.

The sale then shifts to afternoon sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before returning to nighttime on Friday, following the race card. The mixed sale on Saturday is also at night after the race card. Don’t forget that prior to Tuesday afternoon’s session at 1 p.m. is the Breeders Crown Charity Challenge “Cocktails For A Cause.”

And as usual, nothing has changed at the pump as gas prices near the track remain in the $3.44-3.49 range, with lower prices into the $3.20s a bit away from The Red Mile.

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