08/30/2011 9:26PM

Saratoga Scenes - more from the Spa


Saratoga is chugging along in a haze of brilliantly painted sunrises and hotly contested stakes races.  Everywhere is a photo at the Spa, and, somehow, it doesn't get old.  Here are some recent ones.

Above:  Dallas Stewart, long before sunrise, watching his horses train.

Above:  A silhouetted Steve Asmussen set dance in the golden morning fog, Oklahoma track.

Above:  Good horses abound at Saratoga.  Tech Fall (left) and J W Blue (center, third in this past weekend's Travers), wing around the turn just behind Sidney's Candy.  

Above:  At Wesley Ward's barn, a mighty cozy kitten strikes a peaceful pose.

Above:  Multiple Grade I winner Get Stormy, a.k.a. Clyde, is not at all impressed by photographers after a recent workout.

Above:  Classic runner Mucho Macho Man is back on the work tab at Saratoga, having three recorded workouts since August 12.

Above:  Allen Jerkens' stunner, Unbridled Heat, a stakes-placed Unbridled Time 5-year-old, cuts through the morning fog.

Above:  Hall of Famer Bill Mott gives Royal Delta a cool hosing after her hot Alabama victory.

Above and below:  Poor, misunderstood Paintball, Bill Mott's colorful pony....  The not overly-thin pinto, an occasional handful, is on 1/2-rations.  I'm betting Paintball didn't draw the smile above.

Above:  Paintball and Bill Mott escort some darned nice horses, from Drosselmeyer (above) to To Honor and Serve (below).  

Above:  Stanley Hough trainee Tar Heel Mom, a near-black beauty, counts Saratoga's 2011 Honorable Miss (G2) among her many stakes wins.

Above:  Pistachio shells and bottle caps are embedded in dirt on the first turn.  Looks like a good time was had by all.

Above and below:  Coil, after suffering a slight eye injury, wore a protective blinker for his morning routine.  Above, the blinker on a typical sunny morning and, below, after his Travers' week workout.

Above:  John Kimmel is heating up at Saratoga, and I'm sure Freckles is suitably proud.

Above:  Leah Gyarmati's pony (and former racehorse) Diligent Gambler steps lively with his morning charge.

Above:  Eddie Miller saddlecloth.  For many years (decades?), I've noticed the highly unusual design...and have often wondered, "What's up with that?"

Above:  Tony Dutrow's J W Blue drips dry after a morning bath, just days before running a competitive third in the Travers.

Above:  Clocker on a chilly morning, the Oklahoma side.

Above:  Bob Baffert courts the media when announcing that Coil would, indeed, run in the Travers Stakes.  

Above:  Bob Baffert.

Above:  Bill Mott.

Above:  Neil Howard.

Above:  D. Wayne Lukas.  Note the decorative metal racehorse on the spur.  Yes, Wayne's spurs were custom-made.

Above:  Dale Romans and Steve Asmussen hangin' in golf carts - the standard mode of transportation for trackside trainers nowadays.

Above:  Stay Thirsty, no longer in Uncle Mo's shadow.

Above:  This very impressive pileated woodpecker, seen near David Fawkes' barn, isn't your average bird.  Adults average 16 to 19 inches long and this beauty, who seemed young, was sizable.  I always thought Woody Woodpecker was one but, alas, Wikipedia informs me Woody is an"anthropomorphic acorn woodpecker."  Who knew?

Above:  Rajiv Maragh.  Muddy track.

Above:  "Big Shack and Little Shack," trainer Jimmy Baker said as he watched these two blazed-faced chestnuts approach.  Leading the way is Preakness winner Shackleford.  Baker's 3-year-old Will's Wildcat, a stakes performer by Eurosilver, patiently follows.  Below, Will's Wildcat is hard to miss.

Above:  This year's Saratoga meet seems the meet of the rolling horses, from Shackleford, above, to Gio Ponti, below.  Both roll regularly as part of training routines for Dale Romans (Shackleford) and Christophe Clement (Gio Ponti).

Above:  Speaking of rolling, how about some down time for Jonathan Sheppard's 2010 and 2011 A.P. Smithwick winner Divine Fortune?

Above:  Baltic Shore also had some down time - during a recent steeplechase.  He and his rider appeared uninjured and walked off the course.

Above:  Adjacent (Boundary - Missile Defense, by Unbridled) is easy to spot at Shug McGaughey's barn.

Above:  An anvil marks an unusual memorial to "NY Blacksmiths" atop a hill behind Nick Zito's barn.  

Above:  Like father, like son.  Todd Pletcher (left) and father Jake Pletcher on a golden morning.

Above:  Todd Pletcher's Uncle Mo returned in great form with a close second in the King's Bishop this past weekend.  Welcome back!

Above:  Winter Memories, in tight and between horses in the Lake Placid.  Minutes later, Alex Solis shows his appreciation for the race winner Hungry Island, trained by Shug McGaughey.

Above:  James Bond is dwarfed by the old loose horse siren on the Oklahoma track.

Above and below:  Runflatout (trained by John Sadler) got some loving from a friend, and stirred up some swirling steam, when visiting Saratoga.

Above:  Runflatout shakes his head during a cool bath.

Above:  Old stairwell in the clubhouse.

Above:  Sightseek's handsome son Raison d'Etat, by A.P. Indy, schooling for Bill Mott.

Above:  It's been 'the meet of the loose horse,' it seems, and nearly every day some Thoroughbred takes solo flight down the track in the morning or afternoon.  My Nan Nell shows off her form last Thursday.

Above:  While racing fans dream of visiting Saratoga, what do Saratoga workers dream of?  Evidently, fishing.

Above:  Busy barn scene.

Above and below:  Every so often, a name really stands out on the workout list.  This summer, I've been particularly interested in the great name of Unavailable.  Turns out she's a 2-year-old Distorted Humor filly.  Just why, oh why, is she Unavailable?  The lovely lass is trained by Tom Albertrani and ridden here by Dave Wallace.

Above and below:  A trainer's stand before sunrise, along with its weather equipment.

Above:  Stakes winner Smart Bid makes his presence known wherever he wanders, letting out loud and throaty whinnies (and entertaining backstretch visitors) with regularity.  But his whinnies are harmless stuff.  Trainer Graham Motion says the overly vocal 5-year-old by Smart Strike- Recording (yep, Recording) is a real sweetheart.

Above and below:  Two consecutive mornings brought beauty in the form of Nobu Baby.  Trainer Will Phipps (leading the filly, below) is patiently giving Nobu Baby time to relax and enjoy the Saratoga energy.

Above:  Not all barns feature blankets emblazoned with Breeders' Cup logos.  Bill Mott's does.

Above:  Tom Williams, assistant to Bruce Levine, makes Stanford Dolly feel tongue-tied.

Above:  Turallure won the Bernard Baruch last Friday for trainer Charles Lopresti.  Below, Turallure's friends are all smiles just after the race - including Lopresti, right.

Above:  Turbo Compressor, who won the Curlin early in the meet for Todd Pletcher, gallops through the fog under Ray Bulgado.

Above:  Bearpath and Freddie Lenclud head postward in the John's Call.  Bearpath suffered a broken shoulder in the race and is currently resting at Ian Wilkes' barn.  There, he's not only under the regular watch of Ian and Tracey Wilkes but also his loving exercise rider Katie Merritt (below). Lenclud comes by regularly as well - no surprise considering the kind-faced bay was Lenclud's first winner in the States.

Above and below:  Katie Merritt visits with her buddy Bearpath.

Above:  Just before sunset, seagulls settle in on the famed Saratoga roofline.  They aim sunward, as if to fully soak in the day's last sunny rays.

Above:  A change is on the wind - and under foot - these days.