As John Veitch walked to the viewing stand Friday morning to watch a couple of his horses work, several horsemen congratulated him on Vazquez' victory Thursday afternoon.
Veitch smiled at his well-wishers. The trainer of
Alydar as well as several champions for Calumet and Darby Dan farms in the 1970s and 1980s certainly understood the irony of being applauded for winning a weekday maiden win.
For Veitch it was an noteworthy victory: Vazquez was his first winner in New York since December 1998 and first at Saratoga in seven years.
"It was great. It really was," he said.
A few minutes later, Veitch nodded at an obvious question.
"You're right, I've certainly won much bigger races than that in my life, but that was fun yesterday," he said.
During the past few years, Veitch, 57, has been in and out of the training business in the United States. He closed his small public stable in 1998 and later accepted as job as a racing consultant to a member of Saudi Arabia's royal family. Veitch was training the stable when he tired of the living conditions in Saudi Arabia and returned to the United States in April 2000.
Last year, he handled a group of young horses for Calumet Farm owner Henryk deKwiatkowski. His second tour with Calumet was over when owner-breeder John Ed Anthony asked Veitch to handle the few horses that made up his Shortleaf Stable.
"He said he's been in Kentucky for a couple of years and he had horses with two or three different trainers and he'd like to put everything back together again," Veitch said. "He said he didn't have enough horses right now for a private stable, but would I take them by the day and if he put them all together would I take them to New York."
At the time, Veitch and his wife were planning to move to Lexington, Ky.
"We looked at the eight young horses that he had and I said, `Fine, we'll try it. We'll have to go to Saratoga and start from scratch and maybe we'll come up with a horse or two that merits our being here, among the best, particularly at Saratoga'."
Veitch is handling a dozen Shortleaf horses. Eight are in stalls near the Oklahoma training track. The other four are Barn 12, on the backstretch of the main track. Eight of the 12 Shortleaf horses are 2-year-olds.
"The enjoyable thing is to be here with some horses that belong here that I've really got something to look forward to," he said. "I'd be the first to admit that I've been terribly spoiled and had some really good horses. It's been fun having good horses."Biancone on Training: 'Everywhere You Go You Have to Adapt'
During the early part of his career in his native France, trainer Patrick Biancone specialized in developing horses that could run long on the grass, including All Along, North America's Horse of the Year in 1983. Now, his strength is young horses sprinting on the dirt.
Biancone, 50, has sent out 13 starters at Saratoga this summer and has a record of 4-2-0 with earnings of $286,920. He won the Sanford (gr. II) for 2-year-old colts with Whywhywhy on July 25. On Wednesday, Zavata blew away the field in the second stake for juvenile males, the Saratoga Special (gr. II), winning by 7 1/4. Stellar ran a game second to Awesome Humor in the Adirondack (gr. II) for juvenile fillies.
"If you are a very good bridge player, you're a very good poker player," Biancone said. "It's a game of cards, just different rules, different games. You just need to adapt yourself to the rules. Everywhere you go you have to adapt."
Before taking out his license in 1975, he was an assistant to his father, Pierre, and worked in America for Leroy Jolley. In the 1980s, Biancone emerged as an international star. He won the French Derby with Bikala in 1981 on his 29th birthday. He saddled two consecutive winners of Europe's biggest race, the Prix
de l'Arc de Triomphe, All Along in 1983 and Sagace in 1984. Sagace finished first again in 1984 but was disqualified.
All Along was voted North America's Horse of the Year and champion female turf runner after winning the Rothman's International, the Turf Classic and the Washington D.C. International.
Biancone went to Hong Kong in 1990 and was a leading trainer there until 1999 when his license was suspended for 10 months for three drug positives. By the end of the year he was in the U.S. working as an advisor for Frank Stronach's racing stable.
After obtaining a license in Florida in 2000, Biancone handled horses for a few months. He opened a public stable in December 2000 and is competing at Saratoga for the second time.
Repent to Work Sunday
Trainer Ken McPeek said Friday that Repent will have his final work for the Travers on Sunday morning. He will work Take Charge Lady on Saturday or Sunday.
McPeek is planning to start Pisces in the Fourstardave Handicap (gr. II) on Aug. 24 and is pointing a pair of juveniles to the meet-ending stakes. Risky Cat is headed for the Hopeful (gr. I) on Aug. 31. Midnight Cry, who broke her maiden on Aug. 17, is likely to run in the Spinaway (gr. I) on Aug. 30.