Letter from the President - August
In Saratoga, Macho Again will look to parlay his Jim Dandy victory into a triumph in the "midsummer Derby", the Travers. The last three Jim Dandy winners all went on to capture the Travers, and Macho Again will look to make it four in a row this year. In my mind's eye I can see the sheer joy in the Partners' faces. For this to also be Dallas Stewart's first stakes win at Saratoga filled me with emotion. However, while the thrill of the Jim Dandy was immense, the excitement of a Travers win would be immeasurable.
The big races are not confined to the foothills of the Adirondacks. On the west coast, Awesome Gem will be one of the leading contenders in the $1,000,000 Pacific Classic at Del Mar. Last year, Awesome Gem came within a whisker of winning the Classic, and he enters this year's edition off of a heart-stopping effort in the Wickerr Handicap on the turf. The race ended in a five-way photo finish and should set Awesome Gem up perfectly for a top effort in the Classic.
Further up the coast, Tropic Storm will look to invade Washington State to capture the $300,000 Grade 3 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs. The Longacres Mile is one of the "win and you're in" races for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. Tropic Storm is a multiple graded stakes placed four-year-old that has knocked heads with some of the fastest horses in the country.
Macho Again, Awesome Gem and Tropic Storm's successes are all manifestations of a larger philosophy that we adhere to at West Point Thoroughbreds. Patience. When I look at these three horses and so many of our other greats, I try to find a common thread linking them. What makes a great horse beyond its physical gifts? The underlying answer is patience. Awesome Gem and Tropic storm did not set foot in a starting gate as two-year-olds because they simply were not ready. We were not going to rush them to meet an artificial deadline and squelch their potential. On the flip side, Macho Again started as a two-year-old at Saratoga. Even though he was precocious and talented, we let him tell us when he was ready to run this spring and did not try to wheel back in any and every spot for three-year-olds. We could have been more aggressive with him, but when it came down to it we let the horse tell us when he was ready to run and were rewarded accordingly.
Finally, for months now I have been hearing people question the health of the sport. The naysayers were at their height between the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont. However, I sit here on a warm August morning in Saratoga Springs a week into the meet and sense how happy and excited people are both here and at Del Mar. This is no sport on its last legs. Can we improve and continue to grow the appeal of our product? Of course. Are we going anywhere soon? Absolutely not. Anyone who watches the babies blossom in the cool ocean air at Del Mar or the serenity of Saratoga will see that this sport is still rich in majesty and rife with excitement. I could not think of anywhere else I would rather spend the dog days of summer.
Until next month...