Saratoga Diary: Trouble on the Track

Richie Migliore, who has been uncharacteristically non-productive at the Spa this season, rode two winners on the card Sunday. But the Mig's two-bagger was not the best riding performance of the afternoon.

Give that to Dave Ravinski, 50, a 12-year veteran outrider for NYRA. Rawinski grabbed the reins of the runaway Daybeforeher B'day in the fifth race, accomplishing his spectacular collar in front of the grandstand to the applause of the travel mug give-away crowd.

Low-key about the way he reined in the loose horse, Ravinski simply shrugged when asked what his mount's name was. "Red," he said, nodding toward the stout chestnut gelding, even though Red wasn't the horse's name after all. "I don't name 'em," Ravinski confessed, seconds later. "They just work for me," he said matter-of-factly.

Daybeforeher B'day was only one of several pre-race casualties to arise from unusual developments. The first race resulted in a refund on all bets involving the number four, Sunshine Johanne, who broke through the gate and was left unprepared as a result of the starter's fault.

Although the six, Sydsational, also broke badly, the stewards deemed that all bets placed on her should stand, and so they did. Trouble at the starting gate has been a chronic condition at Saratoga and management can't be pleased that the loading function has been handled adequately.

By the way, Migliore and Ravinski weren't the only people to shine in the saddle. The meet's leading rider, Edgar Prado, accounted for three wins and Eibar Coa, who is high in the jockey standings, chimed in with a couple more.

Both winners that Migliore rode needed perfect rides to triumph, and the favorite Auguri got his from Mig in the $70,000 John's Call. Migliore coaxed his horse to an easy half in :49.60 and six furlongs in 1:12.86, before asking him to run. Auguri is another of those Argentine-breds that are making their mark here.

Over all, Sunday's racing was entertaining, despite mediocre fields. NYRA offered only $494,000 in purse money, including a $30,000 purse for $20,000 claimers. In comparison, Del Mar put up a whopping $1,883,000, including $1 million for the Pacific Classic (gr. I) and $66,000 for horses with a $50,000 tag.