Every Thursday afternoon before the first race, the mood in the press box is decidedly grim. Each card leads off with a steeplechase event, and the handicappers – some of which have not picked a steeplechase winner since before the Kennedy administration - have no idea where to begin.
You can train your horse up to a race, conditioning him in the best possible manner. You can score the services of a top jockey with a winning percentage of 66.67 and a 79% in-the-money rate. It's all up in the air when they open the gate.
This morning on the backside near the clockers' stand, Ron Anderson and Doc Danner are shooting the breeze, taking a break from the normal routine of lobbying trainers and chatting up owners in the hopes of scoring winning mounts for their riders. Anderson represents Garrett Gomez, currently fifth in the standings at Saratoga. Danner's jock is Shaun Bridgmohan, who ranks tenth.
Spend a perfect day at the Spa... There will be a few hours to lose at the Oklahoma training track, and you'll stand at the rail and breathe the pungent, pleasing odor of sweaty flanks and dew-stained grass, watching as horses and riders come lolloping over the freshly-turned dirt course.