The summer season has finally arrived. I say that, not because there is a heat wave gripping much of the nation right now, but because the two standout summer racing meets are ready to begin on Wednesday and Friday, respectively. Del Mar kicks off their 37-day season on Wednesday afternoon and will continue to race until September 7. Saratoga will be running forty days of live racing starting on Friday and continuing until September 5.
Both seasons will be offering plenty of great racing as usual. The one thing that most people start to do during these two seasons is monitor the two-year-olds. Del Mar and Saratoga often provide the horses that will be the favorites going forward to first the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies and then, usually, it's on to the Kentucky Derby or Kentucky Oaks. There will be the inevitable flashes of brilliance from a previously untried or untested juvenile horse that will make wiseguys all over the place utter the famous sentence, "That's my Derby horse for next year!"
Of course, there will be other goings-on at both tracks. Del Mar offers a slew of Grade 1 races, including the Eddie Read Stakes and the Del Mar Oaks on the grass. Don't forget about the Grade 1 Polytrack races there like the Bing Crosby Stakes, the Clement L. Hirsch, the Pat O'Brien, Del Mar Debutante and Futurity, and of course, the Pacific Classic on August 18. Saratoga isn't lacking for high-end competition either with seventeen Grade 1 events there, most famously the "Summertime Derby" or Travers Stakes on August 27.
I will be making my first pilgrimage to Saratoga next week, which means I will be in attendance for the Grade 2 $150,000 Lake George on Wednesday and ungraded $75,000 Quick Call on Thursday. I am looking very forward to seeing the Spa for my maiden voyage. With any luck, I will come home from that trip having broken the maiden by being a winner for the trip as well. However, you know, the mere fact that I am heading that way will make a winner out of me for once, so the way I am looking at it, I am ahead for the trip already.
They Are Off will be taking off for the remainder of July and will return refreshed and ready to go in August with all that great summer racing I was just talking about still in front of us. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!