Jimmy Toner greets scores of passersby every day with a wave from the shedrow of his barn on the main track at Saratoga Race Course.
The last few weeks he and assistant Tiffany Webb have definitely seen an uptick in the number of visitors who stop and chat, always looking for news about the recently retired Recepta. (Editor's note: Originally published in Aug. 13 issue of The Saratoga Special.)
Recepta suffered a fractured pelvis during a routine gallop on the main track Aug. 5. She's been at Rood and Riddle Saratoga since, convalescing and receiving more gifts than she or the veterinary clinic can handle.
"I talked to them the other day and they told me about someone calling looking for the address so they could send peppermints," Toner said Thursday morning after training his Saratoga string of 10. "They said, 'no, no, we've got more peppermints than we know what to do with.' She's been getting a lot of things and of course everyone's been real nice asking about her."
Recepta is expected to stay at Rood and Riddle for a few weeks before moving to Dr. Stowe Burke's Burke Equine Therapy in Saratoga for further rehab.
Meanwhile, Toner, Webb and their crew forge on. The barn is looking for its first winner - Recepta nearly gave Toner and longtime supporter John Phillips a victory in the Grade 1 Diana July 23 - and they'll try with a pair of runners Sunday.
Time And Motion, a two-time stakes winner this year for Phillips Racing Partnership, takes the lead role in the barn in place of Recepta. The three-time winner is one of 10 in the Saratoga string comprised mostly of allowance horses and 2-year-olds.
"We've got a good bunch of horses, all ready," Toner said before he walked down the shedrow with The Special's Tom Law.
Defiant Honor: Two-year-old bay daughter of Speightstown is walking the shed as the tour begins. "This is Recepta's stall. I didn't want to keep looking at the empty stall so Recepta's full sister is in here, that's her, Defiant Honor. We're hoping to make a start here with her, or when we get back to Belmont. She looks just like her, a nice filly, quality to her, some ability and should be OK. I was having to look at that empty stall every day and said, 'never mind, let me stick something in there.' She's a capable ... I'm not saying replacement, but it's in the family."
Adirondack Luck: AJ Suited Racing Stable's Rock Hard Ten filly finished 11th in 1 1/16-mile allowance on the grass Aug. 8. "New York-bred. OK. She broke her maiden at Aqueduct. It's kind of hard to find spots for them after they break their maidens."
Manitoulin: Chestnut son of Awesome Again out of Soaring Softly is tied to the back wall, checking out the scene from his window and ignoring a Jolly Ball next to his head. "He's going to run here Travers Day. There's an allowance. He was second at Belmont, then he broke his maiden down there. He's a handful, not a kiddie horse. He's not a pony ride, he's a handful let me tell you, the riders and everybody else."
Momentiempo: "She's a half sister to Time And Motion by Medaglia d'Oro. Lovely filly and can run a little bit. She's got some ability and we hope to run her before we leave. Breezing good. So far, so good, breezing on the dirt. But we'll get a little further along. Maybe I'll have a dirt horse, I don't know. Maybe she's a dirt horse, we don't know yet, we've got to get a little further along."
Time And Motion: Two-time stakes winner is out of her stall walking the shedrow after training on the main track. Daughter of Tapit was second in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks last time out. "She's going to run in the Lake Placid. We're going to run against Catch A Glimpse again. It's a mile and an eighth, a little shorter than the other race. We're going to buy a Quarter Horse to soften her up, try to do something, anything. I was talking to Florent (Geroux, Catch A Glimpse's rider) and I told him I was going to buy a Quarter Horse. He said, 'I don't care what you do, I'll take off, whatever.' It was funny. Last week we were breezing at the same time, so Norm Casse was out there with Catch A Glimpse and I said, 'Hey Norm, wait, I'll be right there, we'll have a match race.' He said, 'no, no, they've got to pay for that. No freebies for that.' "
Cave Johnson: AJ Suited Racing's gray son of Broken Vow pokes he head out but otherwise isn't overly interested. He finished fifth, beaten 3 lengths, in 1-mile allowance-optional on the grass the first Saturday of the meet. "He ran well, got a little tired and he's going to run back Sunday (eighth race, 1 1/8 miles on the grass). He's a nice steady horse. Happy, doing well."
Wabbajack: Webb, holding one for the blacksmith, takes the words right out of her boss' mouth as he approaches the next stall. "That's Wabba," she says of the two-time winner for Ninety North Racing Stable. Now a 6-year-old, Wabbajack is the barn's lead pony. "He made it back to Saratoga, one way or another. He's here. Tiffany has a picture, from my Facebook page of three horses breezing. I had Hyper Nation on the inside, Time And Motion in the middle and Wabbajack is on the outside. She pointed out, 'what a difference a year makes.' Now we've got a picture of him and Time And Motion and he's leading her."
Happy Haunts: Toner gives a quick warning as Hard Spun filly pins her ears and makes sure the visitors are on their toes. "This is Happy, watch her, she's nasty, Haunts. She's a Hard Spun filly, yeah, right, there you go. The Danzig in her. She'll run up here. Turf, I'm hoping there's got to be one dirt horse but I don't know if it's her. Maybe."
Bellavais: Homebred 2-year-old filly for Phillips Racing Partnership is with the blacksmith. "She's a Tapit out of La Cloche, a good filly I had. Small but we call her a little firecracker. She's ready to run, probably the first race that comes up in the next book, 5 1/2 (on the turf)."
Violet Blue: A $47,000 yearling buy last year, she's by 2010 Melbourne Cup winner Americain out of Strike The Light, by Smart Strike. "She's ready to run soon. We need to find a spot for her. Nice filly. It will be interesting to see, they want to see how the Americains run. She seems to be nice and steady, good way about her, she should be OK. I think they want to run all day from what I understand."
Hunter O'Riley: Entered in same race as Cave Johnson Sunday, 1 1/8-mile allowance-optional on the grass. Sean Shay's and Mike Ryan's Tiz Wonderful ridgling broke his maiden at Churchill Downs and finished seventh in the Grade 2 Remsen as a 2-year-old for Joe Sharp. He's run twice for Toner this season - fifth and fourth in allowance races on the grass. "He ran last week, two weeks ago, got in some trouble, finished fourth. I'm going to run him back this weekend. A other than. It all depends on the weather. He won when they took it off the grass He'll run on the off track, so we'll see how it plays out with the weather. He's a neat little horse."
Appealing Briefs: "I'm sure it's a lawyer term because every time a lawyer comes in here they say, 'I want to see Appealing Briefs.' He's a Tizway, New York-bred. He's OK." Could he be the dirt horse? "No, no, no, I thought so too but last week I saw three Tizways won on the grass here. I said, 'oh jeez, you know.' I had a race on the 21st for him but it's 5 1/2 and I think he wants to go longer. So we'll see if there's anything longer in the next book, but otherwise he'll go on the 21st. I'm anxious to see him run. He's been training with Manitoulin every day so he's fit enough to run over the Rocky Mountains. He just keeps going. The funny thing is Manitoulin is 3 and I need company for him. Appealing Briefs is 2 and normally you'd think the 2-year-old would need it but he doesn't. I've got to take him to keep (Manitoulin) busy."