Two Weeks of Heaven
By: Jay Bergman for the Daily Racing Form
Racing related activity shifts to the Bluegrass State for the next two weeks. The arrival of Grand Circuit racing at Lexington’s famed Red Mile at the beginning of autumn signals a chance for owners of current two and three-year-olds to solidify claims of supremacy. It also brings hope for those who breed standardbreds and those looking for future champions.
It’s a rare mix in the fall in Lexington. The chance to visit breeding farms and inspect the next generation of race horses can be exhausting work. At the same time, Lexington offers many in the sport a chance to cross paths with people only seen on the road. Two weeks is necessary to have the opportunity to see yearlings in the field, watch and bid on future stars, and catch today’s greatest horses on the track, a surface that has produced some of the greatest moments the sport has seen.
The two-week Grand Circuit meet at the Red Mile commences September 30 through October 3 and October 7 through October 10.
The schedule is absolutely perfect. Though at points in the past Grand Circuit racing was reserved for the afternoon. Given the need for owners and trainers to have a chance to inspect horses at various locations, offering night racing during the first three days is ideal.
There’s always excitement in the air in Kentucky. Horse lovers are horse lovers, and there are many that feel they have come home when they venture to Lexington in the fall. Generations have come and generations will come, and each year the Red Mile will represent something new and captivating.
On the racing schedule, the key races will be the Kentucky Futurity, the sport’s oldest stakes event on October 10. Again adjusting to modern times, the Red Mile will make it’s last afternoon of Grand Circuit racing its best. Not only will it feature the best three-year-old male and female trotters, it will highlight the best aged performers of both sexes and gaits in the Allerage finals.
The racing calendar and the enormous money available in Sire Stakes races throughout North America, has limited the travel of many of our potentially bright Grand Circuit stars of the future. At the same time, more and more owners and trainers have become convinced that it is in their horses best interest to travel less, race less often, and wait until horses have matured more before going into battle.
That is why Lexington’s races have more significance than any others for the juveniles. We get a first chance to see what will happen when horses with impressive credentials in regional action, take on horses they have not raced against or been on the same tracks with.
The first week of Grand Circuit racing at The Red Mile is an exciting time for breeders and buyers alike. Race callers through the ages have happily announced to those assembled at the track, and now throughout the simulcast universe that, “A full brother to So & So sells as Hip No. 35 on Tuesday night.” The practice of racing in Late Closers with young inexperienced horses that just happen to have their yearling brothers or sisters selling at auction only a few days later, is just the type of appetite whetting needed to stir the soul and loosen the purse strings.