Lexington, Kentucky — The first week of The Red Mile Grand Tour is on the books, and it’s time to move on to the second week. The forecast for Lexington this week is looking good, with highs in the mid-70s all week before a mild drop to the mid-60s over the weekend. This is of course when games will resume, with 1pm shows on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Of course, we’re all looking forward to Sunday’s card, which Kentucky Future highlighted for 3-year-old Trotter. Hannover, the sport’s top horse bulldog, will also be on the card at Saturday night’s Dayton Walk Derby in Dayton, Hollywood, extending his impressive winning streak to 11 games. More on Bulldogs.
The breakfast table was back up and running on Monday, and Cindy Solverson told me the products were sponsored by the trainer who sponsored The Deck. The Deck was full of chairs and sofas on Monday, but there was also a nice party under the adjacent Knowledge Tree. I spent many mornings under that tree of knowledge hoping to gain some knowledge.
There were also a lot of people gathering nearby and I realized it was a French group of about 30 people in town doing some tours, racing and sales this week. Trainer Debbie Daquet from France is being interviewed by members of the French TV media. Moira Fanning of the Hambletonian Society was there to provide some guidance, leading them to Jim Campbell’s barn, where Hambletonian champion Cool Papa Bell and Hambletonian Oaks champion Fashion Schooner lived.
And my USTA colleague Wendy Ross and her dog Stella. Wendy maintains a speed I can never match as she seems to be shooting video clips for the USTA social media pages on a different track every day. Later in the morning, when Wendy was talking to Andy Miller, I also met Wendy, who waved me for a donut from the two large boxes he had placed on the table. Thanks Andy for the donuts.
Matt Franklin of Wire To Wire Wealth came over to say hello. I decided to walk the other way through the barn area and along the back, a nice dappled dog barked at me. I appreciate that the dog’s leash keeps him from getting to me.
Devon Tharps yelled at me, so I walked over and chatted with him for a while. I’m baffled, though, when he’s wearing a helmet with the name of one of Devon’s older brothers, Randy Tharps. Devon saw the confusion in my eyes and he assured me he was Devon and not Randy.
Coach Paul Kelly called me and said he thought he saw me at dinner last night because I was invited to join him. I had decided to stay home on Sunday and respawn for the second week, so I declined the invitation. Paul and I talked for a few minutes, and Ray Schnittker briefly joined the meeting. Paul is right across from the Bulldog Hanover Stables at Dwayne’s Little Barn, so it’s easy to get there.
So I went to see Bulldog Hanover, who was a monster again in Saturday’s victory in Dayton. Coach Jack Darling, who co-owns the world championship with Brad Grant, had just left the track after jogging the bulldogs, so when he saw me walking towards the barn, he came over to greet me. I’ve known Jack for over 40 years, so I’m happy for him because he really enjoys the journey Bulldog takes him.
Darling’s assistant Johnny, who was traveling with Bulldog Hanover, told me that they finally got back to The Red Mile after the Dayton game after 3am. The match itself started around midnight, and Johnny said they had to wait 90 minutes for the second after the first post-match blood test was carried out immediately after the match. He said it was 1:20 a.m. to take the test, and he and Bulldog left immediately, heading south on I-75 to Lexington. I told Johnny that he came back and had a good time and he noticed there was no traffic.
When it was time to go, coach Tony Alagna walked past me as I started walking back, followed by a few other members of the Alagna Barn. Dave Menary was tending a horse outside his barn when he waved hello.
Dr. Karl Nagle, the vet, drove by so he stopped and asked me how my kitten was, like I was talking to Karl about Willow last week. I told him she was still not feeling well and he wished me and Willow all the best. Trackman Greg then drove over to say hi and I finally went to the parking lot.
There’s no rain forecast for the entire week, and while we need rain in the bluegrass, at this point, let’s put it off until next week.
Keep in mind that Fasig-Tipton’s Lexington Select Yearlings auction starts tonight at 7pm and I’m looking forward to it, especially with the sale of 22 yearlings at Hunterton Farm tonight. As always, my first stop will be to see Steve and Cindy Stewart in Hunterton and wish them all the best. They are easy to find as they have two chairs set up in the main back ring.
Sales will then move to the afternoon session on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, then back to the evening session on Friday after the race card. Saturday’s mixed sale is also on the night after the game cards. Don’t forget, before Tuesday’s 1pm meeting, is the Breeders’ Crown Charity Challenge “Cocktails For A Cause”.
As usual, there was no change in gas station prices as gas prices near the track remained in the $3.44-$3.49 range, while prices a little further from The Red Mile dropped to $3.20.