07/23/2011 9:49PM

And they're off...at Saratoga!


Usually, it takes a race meet a while to heat up...but not this year, as temperatures neared 100 the first two days. I'll post random photos from the Spa, from time to time, including this first group.


Above: Eddie Castro found it's tricky trying to cool off It's Tricky after their Coaching Club American Oaks win.  The filly's reaction to a bucket of ice water?  Well, Eddie won't try that again.  Below, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin gives It's Tricky an appreciative pat in the winner's circle.

Above and below:  Bill Mott's turf specialist Aviate proves that Zenyatta is not the only horse who knows how to dance (rider Kristen Lindsay up). Other well-known sashaying runners include Tahitian Warrior, Mission Approved and Lisa's Booby Trap.

Above:  Pigeons set an ominous tone, early morning on the Oklahoma side.  Hitchcock, anyone?

Above and below:  Jackson Bend...what's not to like?  He's small, he's by Hear No Evil, he's cute, his chestnut coat is so dark he's sometimes mistaken for bay - and his groom, Gus Sanchez (below), adores him.  Congratulations to his connections, including Nick Zito, on an impressive James Marvin victory.

Above:  Travers probable Brilliant Speed, trained by Tom Albertrani, looked pretty as a picture after a workout this morning.

Above:  It's about time.  For years now, I've been photographing speedy racehorses passing the "SLOW" sign on Union Avenue.  I just think it's funny.  Yet the photos don't show up in print.  On Sunday, however, the promising 2-year-old colt Overdriven, Patti Krotenko and SLOW made the Racing Form. 

Above and below:  It was back on the work tab for champion Uncle Mo, who, with Patti Krotenko aboard, went 3 furlongs in :38.40 on the main track.  

Above:  Racetrack ponies don't come much more successful than the one shown above.  It's Pleasant Breeze, now 16, escorting Jim Bond's Grade I winner Tizway.  Pleasant Breeze won two Grade 2s, placed in several graded stakes and earned over $1.2 million for trainer Bond and owner William Clifton, Jr.  Some might remember his 2000 Saratoga Breeders' Cup when, after winning, he became lame and was removed by horse ambulance.  Yet he lived to race another day.

Pleasant Breeze now has a second career as the Bond stable pony, including time spent at Saratoga with Jim's son - and assistant trainer - Kevin aboard (below).  The gelding also has lots of relaxing down time on the Bond's nearby farm.

Above:  Perhaps Rick Schosberg's pony here at Saratoga isn't well-known, like Pleasant Breeze.  Actually, the dark bay goes by several names and Rick hasn't partnered with him for long.  But that doesn't mean he doesn't enjoy a good ear scratching as much as any equine millionaire would - even allowing himself to look downright camel-like when Rick finds just the right spot.  


Above and below:  The beautiful Awesome Maria heated up Saratoga in 2009 with an 8+-length maiden victory.  Now 4, the multiple Grade I winner suffered a fractured leg in a workout last Monday and was sidelined.  I find her mane interesting nowadays because it starts off dark, up by her foretop, and lightens approaching her withers.  

Above:  The warm glow of a Saratoga silhouette.