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Sunday, September 23, 2012
The Fall Classics are approaching

By Bob Ehalt

As the New York Racing Association braces for Governor Andrew Cuomo to swoop in and grab the reins, one of the best parts of the year -- excluding, of course, the weeks at a track beginning with the letter S -- is at hand.

On Saturday, the Gallant Bloom offered reigning filly and mare sprint champ Musical Romance against one of her main rivals for this year’s award, Turbulent Descent, though neither of them figured in the exacta.

Dust and Diamonds, an 8-1 shot who was making her graded stakes debut, won the Gallant Bloom, illustrating how whacky things can get, even in races featuring horses with championship aspirations.

Some of those unfathomable results at the Breeders’ Cup over the years further validate that point.

And speaking of which, this coming Saturday, the Breeders’ Cup makes its annual Sept./Oct. visit to New York. Not the actual Breeders’ Cup, which has not been seen in New York since 2005. Rather, a glittering array of the East’s best runners will square off in eight Grade 1 stakes over the course of two weekends that will showcase the region’s top candidates for the Breeders’ Cup -- provided they want to ship across the country.

The Sept. 29 “Super Saturday” card offers five Grade 1 stakes (Jockey Club Gold Cup, Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, Beldame, Vosburgh and Flower Bowl), with the Champagne, Frizette and Jamaica in the on deck circle for Oct. 6. Also sprinkled in are a few interesting Grade 2 and 3 stakes Kelso, Matron, Futurity, Pilgrim and Miss Grillo.

From those races, horses like Ron the Greek, Full Out, Fort Larned, To Honor and Serve, Royal Delta, It’s Tricky, Little Mike, Point of Entry, Shackleford, Dullahan, Atigun, Zagora, Stay Thirsty and Hymn Book are just some of the horses that may inject varying measure of star power into the weekends.

And, of course, a handful or two of trainer Todd Pletcher’s twenty-something 2-year-old winners at the Spa will try to establish a pecking order in their barn and their divisions as well.

All together, it should make for a couple of weeks of great racing and a reminder that there can be fun days at the races, even if the Adirondack Mountains are nowhere in sight.