Posted by Avram Freedberg
Hear the Footsteps looked great when we saw him in Saratoga last Sunday. He also looked good in the paddock before today’s 8th race. It was a very competitive field and the patrons figured he was no better than 6-1.
As they got into the gate, the 7 horse (the favorite) bolted, unseated his rider and made off for parts unknown… well, it was actually part known, since he raced clockwise on first the grass then the dirt surfaces and made his way towards the grandstand. They scratched him from the race and unloaded all the horses while they rounded him up. Finally, they re-loaded the horses and Hear the footsteps under Alan Garcia started quickly from the #6 post position. Alan took him back into 4th and even fell back to 5th shortly thereafter. By this time, the pack was into the stretch turn.
Garcia had to bide his time behind a wall of horses. Finally just after the 1/8 pole, he saw daylight and went to the outside of one horse and then, at the 1/16th pole, he ducked in between horses to make his run. And make his run, he did. Aces Mark was the leader and had sentiment going with him, since he was named for two victims of 9/11 and here it was, the anniversary of 9/11 and he was in the lead near the finish. I’m a sentimental guy. So, I was glad that Aces Mark did well. Of course, I was even happier that Hear the Footsteps passed him and was edging away at the finish by ¾ length.
There we were in the Winner’s Circle — Rhoda and I, Rob and family, Don Stern, Linda and her gang – when a big groan went up from the crowd. I looked up to see jockey Alan Garcia on the ground in a lot of pain. Apparently, another horse bumped into Hear the Footsteps, as they were taking off his blinkers and he bolted forward. Alan was not holding the reins tightly and did a backwards somersault landing on his head and neck. It looked quite serious for a while but Alan is a real trouper. He got up and walked gingerly into the Winner’s Circle. Instead of being on the horse, he stood with us. Then, he rode in the next race, a Stakes worth $150K, and won again!
Then we went to see Footsie, Holy Blitzer and Little Ahvee (It’s Truly Ahvee) at Linda’s barn. Both boys looked great but Little Ahvee was a little thin. So was Blitzer who has been having foot problems but maybe ready to race very soon. Of course, she needs a little more muscle on her frame as well.
What a lovely way to start the new year… Arielle’s Song placing 2nd on Wednesday night and Footsie scoring big today! The holiday was nice too, with Arielle and Tamar celebrating with us. I wish my parents were doing well. It would have made for a virtually perfect few days. I guess you just have to take it as it comes… both good and bad. Hope it’s mostly good for all of us!