Twenty-five years ago today, little Andy Beyer went to a racetrack for the first time.
Some strange compulsion had seized me at the age of 12 and made me beg my nongambling parents to take me to Randall Park in Cleveland, Ohio. I don't recall whether I cashed a ticket that day, but I do remember vividly seeing for the first time a publication called the Daily Racing Form. From that day forward I was a boy obsessed and, eventually, a man obsessed.
Such a momentous event deserves a proper observation. I can't hang a plauge at Randall Park's clubhouse dining room, inasmuch as Randall Park now is a shopping center. There will, however, be a gala party here to celebrate my quarter-century of degeneracy.
But the best possible way to observe this anniversay would be to demonstrate that these 25 years have not been mispent, to find and bet a sure-fire winner at Saratoga. And I have found him.
Far Out East is a three-star mortal lock in Sunday's sixth race.
As a 3-year-old last season, Far Out East showed the potential to be a topclass racehorse, winning on stake and finishing in the money 11 straight time. He returned to competition in June, and has lost all three of his starts. But each time he has been a victim of circumstances.
He returned to competition on June 25, a day when the Belmont Park racing strip happened to give an enormous advantage to speed horses on the inside part of the track. Far Out East isn't quick early, and he tried to circle the field four-wide. He rallied to lose by a only a length to Harmonizer, who hugged the rail and missed the track record by two-fifths of second.
Trainer Tommy Kelly next tried his colt in a stakes race on the grass; he ran creditably, losing by only 2 1/4 lengths, but turf was clearly not his milieu. So Kelly put him back on the dirt at Belmont on July 19. Once again he had the misfortune to run on a track that gave an enormous advantage to speed horses on the rail. And once again he made a big move on the outside, but lost by three lengths of Winter's Tale, who stayed inside and narrowly missed a track record.
On Sunday Far Out East is entered at seven furlongs against a moderately tough field of allowance horses. It includes the Ohio Derby winner Press the Tab, and the good sprinters West on Broad and Caphal. But everything seems to be in Far Out East's favor. He appears to have been training well here. The distance suits him. And, most important, the track shouldn't hurt him.
Although Saratoga favored frontrunners most of the meeting, the track seemed to change somewhat Friday and the winners were mostly stretch runners who moved in the middle of the track. Under such conditions Far Out East should annihilate his opposition, and provide me a very happy anniversary.