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Author Topic: Saratoga has mellowed Nytimes Drape  (Read 276 times)
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« on: August 21, 2013, 02:30:00 PM »

The Chief, as he’s known, is 84, a Hall of Fame trainer for nearly 40 years who earned his reputation as the Giant Killer for sending out horses that beat the Triple Crown champion Secretariat twice and the great Kelso three times. He never played golf or went on vacations, and rare days off have come as he has aged and has been hospitalized. With a chiseled jaw and a barrel chest, Jerkens looks like a bare-knuckle boxer from the John L. Sullivan era. ............................

Jerkens had plenty of company, the backside still clip-clopping to life as Tuesday took shape. Exercise riders sat tall in the saddle, their whips tucked beneath their arms, and wended their way single file between barns and past cars toward the track. Many of them were women and flashed a smile and muffled “Morning,” as they went by trainers and owners and horse lovers clinging to the quiet and a cup of coffee. All possessed ham-size biceps and corded forearms that look as if they have been pulled through with cable. It takes strength as well as guile to make a 1,200-pound animal do what you want it to. ............................

The jockeys were here, too. They sat in golf carts driven by their agents and zipped from barn to barn, getting on and off horses as if they were entering and departing subway cars.

Grooms splashed sponges into buckets, and steam floated off sweaty horses, transforming the bathing area into a geyser field. Brushes were pulled gently through manes, bandages were swathed around ankles, and horses were draped in heavy blankets as they lazily circled the shedrow. When the groom at the other end of the shank stopped, the horses pawed the ground until it was time to go again. Whispered Spanish floated here and there
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