Saratoga Diary: Waging Pink Crusade

Saratoga Diary: Waging Pink Crusade
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Suzie O'Cain, the popular owner of Highcliff Farm in Delanson, N.Y., is trying to get horse owners to dress their jockeys in pink.

This should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen the pretty O'Cain in the clubhouse. With a Lion King mane and Betty Boop eyes, this Hollywood-ish dish is an arresting presence.

Pink is the color of breast cancer research charities, and earlier this meet, O'Cain announced that she had a plan to have jockeys wear the feminine hue on horses whose owners are willing to donate a percentage of the purse to her cause.

It's a wonder she hasn't asked the public to go along – but that's not a poor idea.

The hold-up, of course, are The Jockey Club rules that require an owner to register his silks and race in them. But isn't the solution simple?

The track could notify the public that substitute silks were being used. O'Cain isn't saying that pink has to be worn all the time.

By the way, if O'Cain has her way, imagine the challenges facing race-caller Tom Durkin.

Durkin recalls the names of the horses by memorizing the colors of the jockeys' silks. Nevertheless, one can't imagine that a consummate professional like him couldn't handle the challenge.

Durkin is a mensch who goes out of his way to help people raise money for others. On a daily basis, he invites racing fans for $100 per head to watch him at work in the announcer's booth. Each c-note collected, he gives to the Backstretch Employees Service Team – a most generous gesture.

Durkin had no difficulty recognizing the royal blue and brown silks worn by Fernando Jara aboard Successful Ways in the second race. This maiden special weight sprint at 5 1/2 furlongs was the closest finish on the card. The Nick Zito-trained. Kinsman Stable-owned 2-year-old won by a neck in a duel down the stretch.

Zito has been readying his 2-year-olds differently this summer. In the past, it was death to bet a first-time starter from his barn, but now youth is being served. Jara, a mere 18 years old, can keep a horse going when quitting presents an option.

Colors were important in one other way on Wednesday. NYRA made "Proud to be an American" the theme of the day, and the red, white and blue was saluted by representatives of all our armed forces.

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