Gearing up for a new season
A lot has changed sinced I last posted to this blog. For starters, I'm now a full-time employee of Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. When they first contacted me last month I thought for sure it was to tell me that they no longer needed the services of a handicapper/blogger who couldn't even hit the 30-percent threshold on his tip sheet last season! Instead, lo and behold, here I am, working at my hometown racetrack, the place where I first fell for racing as a teenager. I guess I showed all those teachers at Country Day who lectured me about skipping class to hit the racetrack my senior year--that was the best career training I could have had!
There's a lot going on as we gear up for the meet around here so I probably won't be posting too frequently these next two weeks but I'll do my best.
This morning I went out the the barns and had a nice time catching up with old acquaintances and meeting some new folks. New track superintendent Ian Gamble spent about a half-hour with me explaining everything that's been done to both surfaces in the off-season. Hopefully I can find the time to turn that into a story for the website today or tomorrow. I learned more than I ever thought I would about soil science and the composition of our dirt track.
I also met Anna Roberts, the young apprentice who won her first race here at the end of last season and therefore will still have the bug for most of this meet.
The barns are filling up and the worktab is getting longer. The biggest news so far was Friesan Fire's work for new trainer Steve Asmussen last Thursday. Last season's Horse of the Meet is reportedly working toward a start in the Grade I Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park, which is February 6. After that, who knows? Dubai? The New Orleans Handicap? Can't wait to see how he progresses this winter.
I also saw Cody Autrey this morning and got to congratulate him on pulling out the training title at Delaware Park over Scott Lake. The first year I worked in racing Cody was Bubba Cascio's assistant at Lone Star Park. That was only seven years ago. How does someone build such a formidable stable in such a short amount of time? Absolutely amazing.
Be sure to check out this week's news releases in the Track News section of the website. Our simulcast signal will be available in HD this year. If you've seen the HD signal from Churchill or Keeneland you know how amazing it looks.
The other news is that there will be a live chat during every Fair Grounds card beginning Nov. 8 on HorseplayerPRO.com. The first two days of the meet aren't included because those are Breeders' Cup days.
Speaking of the Breeders' Cup, this is the first year that racing's year-end championships coincide with live racing in New Orleans. Later this week I'll have a rundown of all of the local connections represented at the Breeders' Cup so all of our on-track patrons know who to root for.
I'll put out as much news as I can these next few days, but look for the information on the website to really ramp up early next week once Graham Ross gets to town. We'll also be adding another blogger this season so that you'll have someone more entertaining than me to read.
More to come soon so check back often to learn more about our preparations for the start of the season...