Monday, August 31, 2009

Of Rain and Horses

I spent a wonderful, albeit soggy weekend in Saratoga Springs these past three days. Turnout for the 140th running of the Shadwell Travers Stakes (gr. 1) was great even given the weather, and the horse fans in Saratoga didn't let the downpour dampen their enthusiasm. Summer Bird put in an impressive show under jockey Kent Desormeaux in the Travers, winning over a soppy, sloppy track by 3 1/2 lengths, and besting the Travers Day favorite, Quality Road. With his victory he also strode in the hoofsteps of his sire Birdstone, who accomplished the Belmont/Travers winning combination in 2004.

Thanks to several gracious connections I spent part of Sunday morning in the Saratoga Stakes barn chatting with several trainers, most notably Tim Ice (Summer Bird) and Chip Wooley (Mine That Bird). I also got to peek in and visit with thier celebrity charges, and was pleased to see that Summer Bird looked remarkably fit and happy the day after his big win. He displayed none of the penchant for haughty self-promotion one might expect from a multiple champion, happily munching the carrots that we brought for him and giving me affectionate muzzle rubs while we took his picture. Sunday's weather proved superb, a classic cool, clear Saratoga day, capped off by the afternoon's $400,000 Personal Ensign Stakes (gr. 1) for the ladies. The 4 year old filly Icon Project won the race by a stunning 13 1/4 lengths to send Travers weekend out on a thrilling note.

And with that another Saratoga summer is officially behind me. Luckily the Quarter Horses will be waiting at the in-gate before too long, and I will get to indulge my favorite period of the horse showing season.

No comments: