Sunday, December 27, 2009

Barn Visit - Sunday, December 27th

Castle Village Farm racing manager Steve Zorn and I were up early on an unseasonably warm Sunday at Belmont. Hanging out on the rail at the training track, you could almost get away without the gloves and earmuffs that have been all too necessary the last few weeks.

The training track itself, though, was a mess as a result of the recent snow, followed by heavy rain. In the whole time we were there, we saw only one horse actually breeze on the training track, and that was apparently because the horse -- not one of ours -- had been injured previously, and needed to work with the track vet present to be approved for being entered again. All the rest of the horses that we saw just jogged or had easy gallops, without going all-out.

We were joined at the rail by trainer Bruce Brown, who was supervising gallops for a bunch of his horses. Around 8 o'clock, one of Bruce's exercise riders brought Talking Blues over to the track, just for a once-around jog. Talking Blues is definitely in great shape, and seemed happy to be on the track. It was evident, in fact, that he would have liked to work even harder, as he was still pulling and jumping around as he came off the track.

While we were there, the agent for jockey Rosie Napravnik stopped by, and Bruce got a commitment from her agent to ride Talking Blues in whichever race we end up running in on New Year's Day. Steve and Bruce had talked earlier about possible jockeys, and they'd identified Rosie, David Cohen and Channing Hill as riders that we'd like to have, so getting the commitment from Napravnik was a good sign.

Bruce said he'd give Talking Blues one more breeze, probably on Monday if the track was in good shape, and then, if our horse came back in good shape from the breeze, we'd go ahead and enter on Wednesday for the two-turn maiden claiming races on Friday. There's one that's open-company and another for New York-breds only, but Bruce and Steve think that the racing secretary will probably use only one of them.

Next, it was off to Leah Gyarmati's barn, down at the bottom of the hill near Hempstead Avenue. Strings and Arrows had been scheduled to jog at 8:30, but Leah was running late, so we arrived in plenty of time to watch our horse being saddled and readied for some exercise. Strings and Arrows had breezed five furlongs a couple of days ago, so Leah just took him up to the jogging barn, a 3/8ths mile covered track attached to Allen Jerkens' shedrow, where Strings and Arrows happily cantered around a few laps with Leah aboard.

Back at the own barn, Leah said that Strings and arrows was very close to being ready to race. She and Steve looked at the condition book and tentatively identified a couple of New York-bred maiden special races, on January 16th and 18th, as the most likely targets for our colt's return to the races.

It's getting exciting as racing draws closer!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow Day - Sunday, December 20th

Eight inches of snow on the ground in Manhattan, double that at my home on Long Island, and the training track at Belmont never even opened. Bruce Brown and Leah Gyarmati made it to their barns, but I, sensibly, didn't try to visit. Better luck next week.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Barn Visit - Sunday, December 13th

I stopped by Leah Gyarmati's barn at Belmont yesterday, and arrived just in time to see our colt have a brisk workout on the training track. It wasn't an official timed work, but Leah had the exercise rider let Strings and Arrows drop his head and open up through the final three furlongs. He's looking bigger and stronger all the time.

Depending on the track condition, with bad weather expected the next few days, Strings and Arrows should have an official breeze sometime this week. Leah is leaning toward looking for a race for him in the first half of January, probably at six furlongs, although we expect that eventually he'll be better at longer distances.
I also visited with Talking Blues yesterday at Bruce Brown's barn at Belmont. Our horse was eating happily, having already been to the race track. Bruce and CVF Racing Manager Steve Zorn were there as well, and they agreed that our next target for Talking Blues is the New York-bred maiden claiming race, going two turns, on New Year's day, January 1st.
Of course, there's no guarantee the race will go, or that something won't come up on the overnights before then, but, with no racing scheduled between today and Christmas, there aren't all that many racing days before the 1st.

As for jockeys, Bruce and Steve talked about Rosie Napravnik, David Cohen and Channing Hill as possibilities. Basically, Bruce will try to get the best possible jockey from among those that are available at Aqueduct on that day.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Barn Visit - Sunday, December 6th

Talking Blues appeared to enjoy his gallop this morning with a young enthusiastic exercise rider up. She told us Talking Blues is a happy horse who loves going to the racetrack. Congratulations are in order for Bruce Brown, whose wife gave birth to a baby boy last night. Bruce wasn't at the barn, but his crew was very accommodating to Steve and myself. Bruce will let us know shortly what his plans are for Talking Blues' next race.

Even though the cold weather is upon us, we encourage all our partners (and guests) to join us one morning on the Belmont backstretch. From a traffic standpoint, Sunday mornings seem to work the best.

Looking forward to seeing everyone again at the races.

Strings and Arrows is training very well and will have another formal workout this week, depending on the track condition. As Steve and I watched Strings and Arrows being hot-walked this morning, Herbie Castillo made the comment that Strings and Arrows is letting them know how good he feels every morning when they go to the track. We are all looking forward to Strings and Arrows showing us what a quality
racehorse he is in the very near future.