Mon, 21 July, 1997
Alot has happened since I last wrote. Hope you will forgive me if I miss
some of it inadvertently.
The June 27th National Jockey Championship, brainchild of LSP general
manager, Corey Johnson, brought together 12 of the best jockeys riding,
including hall-of-famers Jerry Bailey, Pat Day, Laffit Pincay Jr., Gary
Stevens, Chris McCarron, Eddie Delahousay, Jorge Velasquez. Other rising
stars included Mike Smith, Shane Sellers, Keny Desormeaux, and local top
riders Ronald Ardoin and Marlon St. Julien.
The day of the Championship was hot, hot, hot. The heat was not all
weather related, either. Jockeys were available to sign autographs from
4:30 in the afternoon until 6pm (which is a long stint in the sun right
before riding). The lines for autographs from the various groups of
jockeys were anywhere from long to unfathomable. Each group of jockeys
signed countless autographs at $5 per customer which went to the National
The mood was clearly felt by all 15,000+ in attendance--and it was a mood
of real enjoyment edged with the electricity of competition. All the
riders were patient in allowing photographs to be taken and in giving
interviews. The jockeys clearly were having a good time in between races,
and were clearly riding competitively. The fans were not forgotten,
either, as jocks tossed autographed goggles out into the crowds after every
race. Media reporting in the aftermath commented endlessly on how nice and
polite the riders were--unlike most other professional sports. What a joy
to showcase these athletes.
The competition was fierce amongst the riders, and all rode the races as if
the horse they were on had the potential to be the next triple crown
winner. After four close finishes, the winner was Gary Stevens. Despite
the fact that Stevens did not win a single race of the four, he accumulated
the most points by being in the money the most frequently. Chris McCarron
came in second, followed by Jerry Bailey, Pat Day, and Ron Ardoin. It was
an awesome night, and riders and fans alike had a wonderful time. Hopefully
this will become an annual event, and if so, it should clearly be televised
so everyone can join in the fun.
Well, the follow-up the the fabulous Jockey Championship was no less
exciting. The Fourth of July weekend boasted the Lone Stars and Stripes
festival at LSP. The festival showcased bands, booths of crafts, and so on.
In addition, there was a fireworks show on the night of the 4th. Fireworks
always draw a large crowd, as it did in this case--over 20,000--but the
horses pay the price. Be that as it may, the festival was popular, despite
the heat and humidity.
To me, however, the festival and fireworks were not the main attraction, the
racing was. The fourth boasted the Lone Star Handicap, for which Bob
Baffert brought two horses--Isitingood, a previous LS stakes winner, and
Lord Jain, who is owned by former Dallas mayor Bob Folsom. Other runners
included Handel, Vindictive Silence, Lost Soldier, Humble Seven, and
Connecting Terms. Despite being the overpowering favorite, Isitingood
couldn't muster up enough to get past Art Prestonwood's Connecting Terms.
Humble Seven charged up in the stretch to collar Isitingood, as well,
although he couldn't get past the winner. It was quite an exciting race.
On the fifth, LS showcased the USA Stakes, which was to be 1 1/6 on the
turf. Contestants for the race included another Baffert trainee and LS
stakes winner Anet, as well as PT Indy, Capote's Prospect, Canboulay,
Crimson Classic, and Letterhead. A huge factor in the race (IMO) was that
heavy morning rains meant the race was switched to the dirt track. Anet,
little horse with alot of run, was clearly the best this day. Crimson
Classic stalked Anet and was passed briefly by PT Indy before regaining his
second place position all the way past the wire. PT Indy was an incredible
23+ lengths in front of next place horse, Canboulay. This is where the
switch to dirt took it's toll, IMO. I have watched Capote's Prospect run on
both dirt and turf--and he is absolutely a turf horse. Racing luck shows
its head again.
On the sixth, The Texas Hall of Fame Stakes was run for 3yo Texas-bred
fillies. The slow track made racing difficult for the fillies, but the 6f
was still won in 1:10 and change by KY shipper Rhonda's Legs. Two Steppin'
Toni managed to hang in for second and Sharons Song came in for third in
front of Coopers Top Angel. A nice race for TX bred fillies.
Despite the fact that heavy morning rains hampered track condition, it was
another great weekend of racing for LSP.
Well, Al, I think that is all I have for right now. Take care, and I hope
you and the family are well.