Monday, May 17, 2010

Barn Report, Sunday May 16th

Lots of worried horsemen and women leaning on the training track rail at Belmont on Sunday morning. Everybody’s talking about the possibility of no racing in New York. Consensus at the rail was that NYRA isn’t crying wolf when they say they are running out of money. Neither New York State nor NYC OTB are paying what they’re supposed to. Worse, we’re still, after nine years, waiting for slots at Aqueduct. It’s beginning to look like NYRA really might have to shut down some time during the Belmont spring-summer meet. If that happens, it’ll be hard to gear up again for Saratoga. You know it’s bad news when even the jockey agents – those guys whose job it is to be incurable optimists -- are nervous.

After all that gloom, Joe, Steve, and new claiming partner Vinny DiSpigno, were only too happy to quit the rail in favor of Bruce Brown’s shedrow, where they got to say hello to Good Law. Our recent winner was acting much more frisky than the railbirds, and wanted to do more than the jogging he’s been limited to since his last race. In Bruce’s absence, Kay, who rides Good Law in the mornings, said that he’d be getting some stronger gallops the next few days, and that we’d be looking for a race in early June. We like that timing for another reason: Bruce will be back by then.

We also saw Strings and Arrows gallop by on the training track, looking very strong. Leah wasn’t at the barn, but Assistant Trainer (and grill chef at CVF summer parties) Herbie Castillo said that Strings and Arrows is ready to run right back – maybe as early as May 22nd, but definitely, assuming the racing office obliges by using a race for us, before the end of the month.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Barn Report, Sunday May 9th

Good Law on Sunday morning -- fast asleep in his stall -- with his eyes wide open -- but not seeing a thing. Steve tried talking to him, but he might as well have been talking to a kid who'd fallen asleep on the living room couch -- good mostly for hearing the sound of your own voice.

Over by the clockers' stand, nobody was sleeping. Much talk about whether the politicians in Albany would come to their senses in time -- and pay the money the state owes to NYRA. If the state doesn't pay, the track closes. Consensus among the rail birds: pretty pessimistic.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Joe's Barn Report - Sunday May 2nd

A spectacular summer day at Belmont! Temperature was climbing toward the 80s, and one of our group, who shall go unnamed in deference to the fashion police, was wearing shorts.. The group, by the way, consisted of Steve and Joe, as usual, joined by new claiming partner Vinny DiSpigno and by Bagavond veteran Paddy O’Hara.

Much time was spent on the rail at the training track, mostly because the weather was just so perfect. Can’t think of a better place to be on a weekend morning than leaning on that rail, picking up some trainer gossip, watching the experienced horses breeze and the young ones see if they can throw their riders. As the MasterCard ad goes, the feeling is priceless. And it’s made even more so by having three horses on target to run over the next couple of weeks – Good Law this coming Wednesday, Strings and Arrows on Saturday, and Bagavond, we hope, on May 20th.

Even Bruce Brown got into the swing of things. We first spotted Bruce over in the “paddock” (actually it’s more like a 10-by-10 foot square of grass in front of the barn), getting in some quality sun time while holding onto a shank that had Repole Stables’ stakes horse Digger at the other end. Digger was too busy chomping on that sweet spring grass to pay much attention to us humans, but we had a nice long chat with Bruce. In fact, Bruce had Good Law brought out for us, so GL got in 15 minutes of grazing time too, with Bruce holding on. Steve asked whether Bruce was short a groom today, to account for the fact that he was doing the work himself, but Bruce said no, he was just enjoying the sun and the horses. That’s kind if the way all of us feel on a nice day on the backstretch.

Much good feeling down at Bill Turner’s barn as well. Bagavond was getting his morning bath as we arrived; he was just back from galloping, and will most likely breeze in the next couple of days. Our veteran campaigner knows the barn routine pretty well by now – he should, at age seven! – and seemed to be telling his groom and hotwalker just how he likes his bath done.He’s such a professional horse. No pulling on the shank, no shaking all the water off all over his handlers, and nary a kick in the direction of us four interlopers.

Nice to see Pat Turner back at the barn along with Bill. Pat had stopped off in Virginia for a while after the horses shipped up from Palm Meadows, and had gone out to visit Iguazu at Diana McClure’s farm. Iguazu, Pat reports, is doing well, and both she and Bill expect great things when our colt returns this summer.

We never did get down to Leah Gyarmati’s barn, which is all the way down at the bottom of the hill, as far as you can be from that rail next to the training track. But, we didn’t really need to pay Leah a visit, because, while we by the rail, she rode by twice on our old campaigner Diligent Gambler, who’s now, in retirement, her stable pony. Leah decided not to wear a helmet on the track – trainers, it seems, aren’t subject to the same rules as exercise riders or jockeys.We think the no-helmet rule applies only when a trainer is on a pony, not riding an in-training race horse. But, with Diligent Gambler, Leah has to be pretty careful. It hasn’t been that long since he was racing, and every now and then, we’d notice him looking longingly at the younger guys breezing down on the rail, as if to say, I can do that.

We arrived at the track just as Strings and Arrows was finishing up a five-furlong breeze. Naturally, none of us spotted him until he was galloping out, but even slowing down, he looked strong and ready to go. Herbie Castillo breezed him, and Herbie said he was fit and ready to go.The breeze should set him up nicely for next Sunday’s race.

Steve and Herbie

No first-hand report on Talking Blues this week, but, sometime during the week, Joe will be stopping by Dave Rintoul’s farm– which is all of five minutes away from Joe’s house – for another update.

Steve and Joe are always happy to have CVF partners (or future partners) join them on the backstretch on Sunday mornings or at Rintoul’s farm on another day. Give Joe a call at (888) 989-7223 or email him at to set it up.