Major contenders for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships are dropping out almost as fast as the days are dwindling until the 2014 edition next weekend at Santa Anita Park.
A day at the races, or days at the races. Saturday was one day but it felt like far more as Thoroughbreds went to work on big days at Laurel Park, Far Hills, Belmont Park, Charles Town, Keeneland and pretty much anywhere else you wanted to look on a sunny, breezy October day.
Racetracks East of the Mississippi are the place to be this weekend with restricted or state-bred action at Belmont Park, Laurel Park and Charles Town Races leading the way.
Divine Fortune is doing the head shake. Part twitch, part habit and all “Hey look at me!” the 11-year-old cranks his head all the way to the left – while walking straight ahead – holds it for a beat, then zips it back in one, swift pull. Then he goes back to walking. Then he does it all again. And again. And again.
It’s raining again in mid-October, which means all the questions start arise with regard to the annual Far Hills Races in New Jersey. American jump racing’s biggest day comes around again Saturday with seven races, $580,000 in purses and plenty of questions. How soft will the turf be? Will Demonstrative run? What trainer will have a big day? Is this where somebody takes a stranglehold on the jockeys’ race? Can Divine Fortune find his May form? Who’s the best novice? Will the vodka ice flumes be back? How about the accordion player in the cow costume?
The Far Hills Races in New Jersey annually bring together the best of the best in American jump racing and 2014 is no exception.
The Grand National. It’s not Aintree, but the name does conjure images of all-time greats, history, a gold trophy, big names, big money and big pressure. That’s all here for this year’s renewal, the fourth race of seven on the Far Hills card Saturday. The $250,000 stakes attracted eight entrants, including the main players in the 2014 open stakes division – though a few choose to wait for next weekend’s Zeke Ferguson.
As the sun fades on another epic day at the Far Hills Steeplechase, six horses line up in the finale, the New Jersey Hunt Cup. Lacking quantity, there is quality. The $50,000 stakes attracted the winners of this year’s Virginia Gold Cup and Mason Houghland timber stakes, the winner of the 2012 New Jersey Hunt Cup and three others looking for their breakout moments.