Monday, September 7, 2009

Rachel Rests

Somehow, she looks pensive. Those with an overactive imagination might think she was pondering her future, perhaps. Alexander the Great, it was said, sat down and wept when there were no more worlds to conquer. But Rachel Alexandra the Great has the world at her feet! Along the bottom of the photo you can make out the pink carnations that adorned her Woodward winner's blanket. And check out for a great fisheye photo of the finish of the Woodward Stakes. The only thing that's missing is that incredible wall of noise from the grandstand, which was literally shaking from start to finish -- and beyond.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Fall is in the air and the final stretch is upon us. While the focus at Saratoga Insider is usually on horses, the backstretch is filled with all kinds of other great animals and today's post is dedicated to all of our canine friends. Also, it's an exuse to post cute pictures of dogs -- and who doesn't love cute pictures of dogs?

She hardly needs an introduction, but the lead photo there is Frannie, the french bulldog, queen of the backstretch, beloved by all. Especially us.

This is Bounce, who belongs to D. Wayne Lukas. His registered name is "Cover Me I'm Going In" and his daughter is a war hero who saved injured soldiers in the Middle East. Good bloodlines, obviously.

This is Olivia, who belongs to a farrier. She's very sweet and gentle, but Saratoga Insider recommends that you always ask before approaching a dog in a truck (or approaching a strange dog at all).

Here's Honey - can you believe she's ten? We love a lab.

Here's the puppy from the red fruit truck - we think his name is Pancho. The one time we saw him sitting in back of the truck with the fruit, we went a little crazy with the camera.

This poodle - name unknown - lives around Jonathan Sheppard's barn. It's been so chilly these last few mornings, we wish we had a cool (by which we mean warm) sweater like he does.

Up next: CATS.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Splish Splash ...

...she was taking a bath. Rachel, that is.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Rachel Breezes at Oklahoma for Woodward

Monday morning dawned cool and crisp as Rachel Alexandra took to the track for her final workout prior to Saturday's Woodward under a pink-streaked sky. The fine weather added to the anticipation surrnounding the leggy bay filly's attempt to make history by becoming the first of her sex to win the Woodward. Watching her this morning, it was hard not to think you were already bearing witness to something very special.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Summer Bird and His Canoe

The most famous Travers tradition is the canoe in the infield lake. Here we get to see it paintd in the colors of the winner of the 140th Shadwell Travers -- Summer Bird!!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Bird Ball

Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird spends a quiet afternoon in his stall at Saratoga Race Course.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Handsome is as handsome does

Quality Road, favored in Saturday's Shadwell Travers, gets in some quality time schooling in the paddock before the start of racing on Thursday. He may not have any distinguishing markings, but he's so handsome he's easy to pick out anyway!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Work, Work, Work

On Monday, it was Rachel Alexandra (Woodward) and Quality Road (Shadwell Travers); Tuesday, it was Mine That Bird's turn. Rachel, as usual, looked awesome breezing, Quality Road continues to impress and the Kentucky Derby winner was bouncing and playing when he came off the track after his work. Tomorrow, they'll scope Mine That Bird again to see if there is any irritation from the procedure to correct the entrapped epiglottis; if not, the Shadwell Travers looks like a go. Keep your fingers crossed!!!!

Here's Rachel:

Here's Quality Road:

And, finally, here's Mine That Bird!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Just more proof...

That while she might be Kentucky-bred, Rachel Alexandra's a New Yorker through and through - right down to her vehicle registration.
Things have been a little hectic at Saratoga Insider today, but we promise plenty more Rachel as she prepares for her historic run in the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward on September 5 - and plenty more from all corners of the Spa leading into Shadwell Travers weekend!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Summer Birdzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Summer Bird takes a nap after Saturday's work (5F in 1:00.91). Sleep tight! Don't let the bedbugs bite!

Keep an Eye on This One

One of the most interesting things about the Jonathan Sheppard-trained Dirge is that he's a 7-year-old gelding who didn't make it to the races until he was 5, and since then has only started seven times.

Another interesting thing is that Monday at Saratoga, he'll be making his second start off a nearly two-year layoff.

And here's the other interesting thing:

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Welcome Back Bird

Mine That Bird underwent successful surgery to repair an entrapped epiglottis in the Ruffian Equine Medical Center down by Belmont Park on Tuesday morning; he was back in his stall at Saratoga Tuesday night. The procedure itself, said Dr. Patricia Hogan, takes about 12 seconds, the hard part is getting the horse under anesthesia and waking him up again, which took about 45 minutes or so. "He was a total gentleman," she told us.

Waiting in the conference room with trainer Chip Woolley, exercise rider George Smith and Zak McDonald was like being in the waiting room at a hospital for people. Nervous and bored at the same time, they pass the time watching YouTube videos: The Amazing Skidboot, Louisiana Sinkhole Drains Entire Lake, Twin Baby Boys Laughing at Each Other, Amazing Holes Around the Earth, Charlie Bit Me, and, of course, the overhead replay of the Kentucky Derby.

"Right there," says Woolley, watching as Mine That Bird squeezes through a rapidly diminshing hole on the rail, "is where my whole life changed."

Woolley glances at his watch, murmuring to himself, "He should be up by now," and sure enough here comes Dr. Hogan with the great news that everything went smooth as silk. Downstairs in this amazing facility, Mine That Bird is back in his stall, hungry, and, like any human patient, anxious to get home. And, after the trio partakes of another excellent meal at King Umberto's, he's on his way!

Very Tiny Woods.

Bob Baffert has a promising 2-year-old named Tiny Woods entered in today's Grade 2 Saratoga Special. In town last week to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, Baffert was asked about the colt by some reporters.

"Actually, there goes Tiny Woods now," Baffert deadpanned, gesturing to a pony belonging to his New York assistant, Tonja Terranova. (A literal pony, as in under 14.2 hands.)

Just to clear up any confusion, we believe the pony to which he was referring is actually named Ollie, pictured above. Good luck to the real Tiny Woods today!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Here's to you, Rachel Robinson!!

Among the 52,435 at the Spa was Rachel Robinson, widow of baseball legend Jackie Robinson, pictured here making one of two trips to the winner's circle Sunday.

"Nick [Zito] is a friend of mine," said Robinson, who later presented the trophy to the winning connections of the West Point Handicap.

Asked what brought her to the races, she exclaimed, "Why does anyone come to the race but to bet the horses!"

Robinson, who will stay in Saratoga through Monday, said her late husband was a big horse racing fan as well.

"He used to go to Yonkers Raceway and Roosevelt Raceway whenever he had the chance," she said.

It's HOT!!!

Wayne Cutler's Marina Market looks for a cooling breeze on the backstretch Sunday morning. The temperature in Saratoga is expected to climb into the 90s through the first two days of the week.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Summer Breeze

Wish We Had Been There!

So this morning Chip Woolley sees Tim Ice walking across the yard before Summer Bird goes out to work [Tim got him in 1:01.68] and makes some comment about them going out again tonight and Tim gets this semi-horrified look on his face and Chip busts out laughing.

"We were out the other night at Siro's," Chip says.

The highlight of the evening, he goes on, was when he and Tim pretended they were each other; Chip donning Tim's trademark baseball cap and introducing himself as Summer Bird's trainer and Tim sporting Chip's black cowboy hat and leaning on his crutches and telling everyone he trained the Kentucky Derby winner.

"Did it work?"

"Maybe about 40 percent believed it," says Chip.

"Nah," says Tim, "nobody was fooled. I don't have a mustache."

Friday, August 14, 2009

T minus 15 days (to the Shadwell Travers!)

Summer Bird's trainer, Tim Ice, brought three other horses with him to Saratoga Race Course; a pair of two-year-olds and a four-year-old who has been plagued by hives ever since he hit the Eastern seaboard. More importantly, the Belmont Stakes winner will have his first work at the Spa Saturday morning at 8:45, going five furlongs on the main track with Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux aboard.

Trainer Chip Woolley and his famous crutches pull up behind the stakes barn at Saratoga Friday morning. He had the cowboy hat, too, but where were his sunglasses?!!!!?