Minnie the Moocher, No Moocher at Saratoga

How did the New York Racing Association choose the name Cab Calloway for one of the divisions of its Saratoga stakes for New York stallion-sired horses? How dat be that those dicty cats knocked that hep cat a kiss named the Cab Calloway?

The late, great jazz artist used to be a regular at the racetracks on Long Island, but here in the Adirondacks, where the 1-1/8 mile on turf for three-year-old colts is run, tastes race naturally to Yo-Yo Ma "When those jitterbugs jump into port from the Apple, they get their glasses on.

NYRA will run about 800 races restricted to horses bred in the state this year, an increase of nearly 20% over last year and double the number four years ago. "It's solid murder if you signify, pop. These dates can put a line in your mouse."

Nevertheless, veteran observers at the Spa say the program is taking from the quality of racing in Saratoga, and pine for the high-priced claimers and open allowances that these races are replacing.

In the politically-charged atmosphere that everyone's operating in, however, it's doubtful that the NYRA racing secretary will snub the upstate breeders who have clout with the pols who'll be voting on the franchise next spring.

So, in the meantime, the local horsemen have some "righteous" purses to shoot for, with the Cab Calloway the biggest purse of all. "Nothin' cut-rate 'bout that deuce-and-a-half large, gate. Nobody playin' you cheap."

Classic Pack won the $150,000 Cab Calloway Stakes on Sunday. The son of Regal Classic, owned and bred by John T. Becker, sprinted clear in the stretch to leave little doubt which horse was best. Fernando Jara, who seems to be getting better each time he rides, was aboard.

In the co-featured Fourstardave Handicap (gr. II), a race that is named for a New Yorker but run to appease everyone, Remarkable News, a Venezuelan, humiliated four foes, including the accomplished Artie Schiller.

Richie Bomze presented the trophy to trainer Angel Penna, Jr. and rider J.J. Castellano. Bomze serves as the president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, which is an integral part of Empire Racing Associates - one of the bidders for NYRA's franchise.

And why might you ask should NYRA give a competitor so visible a showcase? Well, Bomze owned and bred the sturdy gelding after which the race was named. Fourstardave won a race at Saratoga in each of eight years from his two-year-old season to 1994.

It's constancy like Fourstardave's that the diehards prefer. But the people who spun through the turnstiles on Sunday for a free tee-shirt – they couldn't care less. They sang "Hi-dee, Hi-dee, Hi-dee, Ho" along with Sam the Bugler as he trumpeted "Minnie the Moocher," and then they went home happy.