Brian Lynch was one of the last people out of the Saratoga Race Course paddock a few minutes before Wednesday’s inaugural running of the $100,000 Better Talk Now Stakes.
It was that time of day. Metal rakes began to cover the morning’s hoof beats. Trainers opened condition books. Exercise riders fled for breakfast.
Week 5 comes to a close Monday with the first running of a stakes named for one of the most dominating winners in Saratoga history and a rescheduled steeplechase race from last week.
Last year at Pimlico, right about when Shug McGuaghey was answering is 6,129th question about Orb, a chestnut ball of fast-twitch muscles bounced out of a stall next to the Kentucky Derby winner to train.
Todd Pletcher leaned like a sapling in a thunderstorm, hanging over the ledge of the box at the top of the clubhouse stairs as Stopchargingmaria churned through the final furlong of the Grade 1 stakes, reeling in Miss Besilu and staving off Joint Return. After an arduous stretch run that lasted longer than a root canal, Pletcher raised both fists, high-fived an assistant and regained his composure.
Weekend Hideaway didn’t slip through the cracks when he sold as a yearling at a dispersal sale in 2011, though he didn’t exactly stand out, either.
Want a runner in a Grade 1 at Saratoga? You could do worse than troll for prospects at Tampa Bay Downs in December. Fortune Pearl, 8-1 in today’s Alabama, could have been claimed for $32,000 in her career debut a day after Christmas last year.