Deflation. It was not the start to Royal Ascot we had conjured up. Derby winner Animal Kingdom pulling hard and flattening out, we didn’t even get a chance to yell. That’s really all you ask for in this game – if you bet them, own them, train them, simply cheer for them – just a moment when it’s in the balance. Animal Kingdom’s race was over early. Breaking in the clear with a long straightaway in front of him, he seemed to understand and accept it for a moment, then John Velazquez’s hands came up, his shoulders went back and his heels went down – that was it. You could go flip your omelet and get back to real life.
Turn off the phone. Call in sick. Lock the door. Whatever it takes, just get in front of your computer and/or television and watch Opening Day at Royal Ascot. Watch, bet, genuflect…the racing is superb, the pageantry sublime. This year, it’s even better from an American standpoint as Animal Kingdom lights up the first race. Here are the top 10 horses/stories to watch, at least from an America perch, Tuesday. In race order.
Not a particularly nice day at Laurel Park in mid-December, those are few and far between. The track was quite sloppy from a cold rain falling all morning. The crowd was sparse at best but that never stopped racing before. Jockeys dismounted in the paddock as not to get their boots dirty, but one was missing, apprentice jockey Trevor McCarthy.
Dave Carroll pulls the phone away from his ear and yells down the hall. “Aisling, you know the bridle Mom got for Abstraction? What’s that called? How do you spell that…?”
By a Horse of the Year out of a Horse of the Year. Sure it’s been done before. Sometimes with success, other times without. It’s always fun regardless, for breeders, horsemen, fans of the game.
If you’re a clover plant in northeastern Maryland, be afraid. Be very afraid. Kentucky Derby winner Orb checked into the Fair Hill Equine Therapy Center Sunday afternoon and, if Wednesday was any indication, he’s not in town for the views.
Palace Malice put it on everyone in the Belmont Stakes, proving that you never know what's going to happen when you saddle them up and send them over. Dogwood Stable's charge ran off and faded in the Kentucky Derby. Saturday, he listened, relaxed, rated and carried his speed 12 furlongs. On the jump side, Colonial Downs provided it usual thrills and longshot thrills.
The half dozen or so employees of Todd Pletcher laughed, high-fived, fist-bumped, ribbed and teased each other and did all the fun-loving things people walking to the test barn with the Belmont Stakes winner should do as Palace Malice made his way back to the Belmont Park stable area.
The Best of The Saratoga Special
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