09/08/2010 1:51PM

Looking Forward


As a person who absolutely loves summer and has for as long as I can remember, Labor Day is a bittersweet day for me, for obvious reasons. But if Labor Day itself wasn't enough to deal with, the person who selects the music that plays at various points during the day on the NYRA telecasts had to go and make it much worse.

I usually really like the music used prior to NYRA's pre-race prattle or just before the race replay. Who ever picks these tunes has an iPod playlist similar to mine. Lots of Hendrix, some Zeppelin, early Clapton, Allman Brothers ... all good stuff.

But for the last two years, at least, the "music director" for the NYRA broadcasts has on Labor Day, closing day of Saratoga and the unofficial end to summer, completely slayed me by hitting us at about a minute to post with a snippet of Frank Sinatra's "Summer Wind."

That just isn't fair. That's like going duck hunting with a bazooka. If there is a song that better captures how fleeting summer is, I haven't heard it. On a day that is already emotional for us summer lovers, some well-timed five second snippets of "Summer Wind" is more than enough to push you right over the edge. It's enough to make you weigh the feasibility of pulling the sheets over your head until Memorial Day.

What always snaps me out of this melancholy is the critical racing fall always promises, and this year is no different. Looking at it from a Breeders' Cup division context, there are lots of things to look forward to in the coming weeks, such as:

TURF - Given how profoundly mediocre European performers Chinchon and Debussy came over and won our two biggest turf races of the summer, the United Nations and Arlington Million, I can't wait to see what happens when European horsemen send over some horses who are actually of Group 1 caliber.

MILE - Yes, I know Goldikova has a third straight Mile in her sights. But I was so impressed Sidney's Candy's brilliant debut on turf in his last start that I am eager to see what he does against older opponents in the Oak Tree Mile.

FILLY & MARE TURF, and SPRINT - With our best active turf females showing that nine furlongs might be about as far as they want to go, and with the retirement of the injured Majesticperfection leaving a scramble behind him, I think we should be on the lookout this fall for someone to seriously step up and take control these divisions. If, that is, anyone is capable of it.

JUVENILE - It looks like Hopeful winner Boys At Tosconova will train up to the Breeders' Cup, and this was posted before J P's Gusto went for his fourth stakes victory in Wednesday's Del Mar Futurity. They're good, but the 2-year-old colt who has captured my imagination is Uncle Mo, who was awesome winning his debut on Travers Day by more than 14 lengths, earning a 102 Beyer. I would guess the Champagne would be what's next for Uncle Mo. That would represent a huge class jump for most horses. Then again, as sensational as Uncle Mo was in his debut, he doesn't look like most horses.

CLASSIC - Saving the best for last, Woodward winner Quality Road will train up to the Breeders' Cup. But Blame, who conquered Quality Road in the Whitney and then was flattered when that rival came back to romp in the Woodward, is pointing to the Jockey Club Gold Cup. The Gold Cup could provide us with a good barometer of how the 3-year-olds stack up against their elders as Travers winner Afleet Express, whose best races seem like they are still in front of him, might face Blame there. Speaking of 3-year-olds, what's up with Lookin At Lucky? After being ill, can he even be ready for a prep before the Classic? And will Trickmeister confirm he is the monster he suggested he is when he won the Pleasant Colony the day before the Travers, maybe in the Pennsylvania Derby? And while we're asking questions, can Rail Trip finally put his minor issues behind him, get his start on dirt, and prove he is as effective on it as he is on synthetics? It would be great to see that happen in the Gold Cup. Rail Trip is a high class horse and would certainly belong in a race like that.

The Autumn Wind. It might not be the Summer Wind, but it's not too shabby.