Fans eager for the start of the 148th Saratoga Race Course meet can enjoy a free preview night next Wednesday at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, featuring a panel that includes soon-to-be-inducted Hall of Fame jockey Ramon Dominguez.
He’ll be joined by trainer Graham Motion, owner Jack Wolf of Starlight Racing and managing editor Tom Law of ST Publishing, which is responsible for the popular Saratoga Special tabloid.
The free preview discussion will take place at 7 p.m. at the Hall of Fame Gallery.
Dominguez, a three-time Eclipse Award winner, set the record for most wins at a Saratoga Race Course meet in 2012, with 68. He was forced to retire with head injuries in 2013.
Among the best horses he rode was Better Talk Now. He won the Sword Dancer at Saratoga Race Course and the Breeders’ Cup Turf in 2004 while trained by Motion.
Motion is best known for having trained Animal Kingdom, winner of the 2011 Kentucky Derby and 2013 Dubai World Cup.
Wolf formed Starlight Stables in 2000 with his wife Laurie and went on to campaign Grade I winner Harlan’s Holiday, champion 2-year-old Shanghai Bobby and Hall of Famer Ashado, a Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner whose Saratoga victories include the Schuylerville, Spinaway and Go for Wand.
Wolf was joined by Schenectady native Don Lucarelli as Starlight co-managing partner in 2004, when the partnership name was changed to Starlight Racing.
Law is a Saratoga Springs native who has worked as a sportswriter and handicapper for The Saratogian and as a writer and editor for almost 15 years at the now-defunct Thoroughbred Times.
Each attendee of the program will receive a complimentary copy of the museum’s 2016-17 Hall of Fame Guide.
Some other events to mark on the calendar include the fourth annual “Hay, Oats & Spaghetti” dinner on Monday, July 25, to benefit the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.
The dinner will be held from 6-9 p.m. at Bravo on Route 9 in Saratoga Springs.
Tickets for an Italian buffet with beer and wine included are $75 in advance through www.trfinc.org and $85 at the door.
Founded in 1983, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit tax-exempt TRF. whose headquarters are in Saratoga Springs, has found homes for thousands of retired thoroughbreds who otherwise may have faced neglect, abuse and slaughter.
If you’re looking for something to do on the Tuesday dark days during the meet, which begins next Friday, the Academy for Lifelong Learning is offering a four-week summer program called Horse, History and Handicapping.”
Sponsored by the racing fan advocacy group Thorofan, the program is open to the public for $55 (individual session) or $15 per session at the door, and will run from 7-8:30 p.m. at Longfellows Conference Center at 500 Union Avenue in Saratoga Springs.
The guest speakers include jockey agent Matt Muzikar (July 26), trainer Gary Contessa (Aug. 2), handicapper Chad Summers (Aug. 16) and turf writer Teresa Genaro (Aug. 23).
For more information, contact [email protected] at the Academy office.
Nyquist is headed to the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on July 31 instead of the Jim Dandy at Saratoga, Monmouth president Bob Kulina announced on Monday, after having had conversations with the connections for the Kentucky Derby winner, including trainer Doug O’Neill.
Nyquist hasn’t raced since finishing third in the Preakness. He was supposed to ship to New York for the Belmont Stakes, but was diagnosed with an infection shortly after the Preakness and was sent home to California.
The July 30 Jim Dandy is expected to draw Preakness winner Exaggerator and Belmont winner Creator.
AROUND THE TRACKS
Tencendur, the 2015 Kentucky Derby runner who was born in Saratoga County on the Birsh Family Farm in Charlton, has been working steadily at Belmont Park and could run at Saratoga in his first start since finishing second in the Ohio Derby almost 13 months ago.
He was primed for a run in the Jim Dandy and Travers, but was diagnosed with a broken leg three days before the meet started.
Tencendur, runner-up in the Grade I Wood Memorial before finishing 17th to American Pharoah in the Kentucky Derby, shows a steady pattern of six published breezes at Belmont since June 8.
“I don’t know when he’ll start,” trainer George Weaver said on Wednesday morning. “He’s a such a big horse. He needs to stay sound. If he stays sound, he’ll run here.” . . .
A logical spot for Tepin, the 2015 Eclipse Award-winning turf mare, would be the Ballston Spa on Aug. 27, a race in which she finished second last year.
But Team Casse has introduced the possibility of running against males in the Fourstardave on Aug. 13 as a bridge between her victory in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Woodbine Mile on Sept. 17.
Several factors will determine which they go, assistant trainer Norm Casse said, including the weather. Tepin has a well-established aversion to hot temperatures, so they’ll try to avoid that no matter what.
Ultimately, how she is training at any given time will be the most important factor.
“I honestly think the filly turf division is tougher than the male division, so it could turn out that the Ballston Spa is a much tougher race, anyway,” Casse said. “So we’re not really worried about that. It’s the timing and the distance, and we’ll have to watch what the temperature is, too, because we’ve always been really concerned about the heat when we run her. She doesn’t adjust to that very well. . . .
2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome is scheduled to make his next start in the July 23 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar, his first race since dominating the $10 million Dubai World Cup by five lengths on March 26.
That victory made California Chrome the all-time leading money winner in North America.
Trainer Art Sherman said they would look at the Aug. 20 Pacific Classic as a steppingstone to the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
The stakes action this Saturday includes the Grade I $750,000 Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park, where I’m a Chatterbox is the 121-pound highweight.
The Grade I winner finished first in the Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga last season, but was disqualified and placed second to Curalina for interference, then finished second in the Alabama.
The field for the Indiana Derby at Indiana Grand includes Preakness runner-up Cherry Wine, making his first since a seventh in the Belmont Stakes.
Among those he’ll face are Cocked and Loaded, fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and Rebel winner Cupid.
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