On this relatively mild day on the east coast NYRA runs its last Graded Stakes race of 2008, the $100,000 Grade III Gravesend Handicap over 6 Furlongs. When I think of Gravesend, I think of the Gravesend section of Brooklyn, having been there many times on business when living in the the NY City area. The Gravesend Handicap traces its roots back to the long gone Gravesend Bay Racetrack in Brooklyn New York.
For some great background history on the Racetrack and one particular race run way back in 1894, check out the Brooklyn Backstretch site.
As far as the 2008 edition, look for Lucky Island to run strong. With trainer Kiernan McLaughlin in Florida, assistant trainer Art Magnuson, who grew up a stones throw from Saratoga in Clifton Park NY, will saddle Lucky Island with Alan Garcia aboard.
On the west coast, Santa Anita opened with a opening day crowd of 33,100 -- an increase from last year's opening day crowd of 30,156. Check out Mary Forney's Blog for a report on the day featuring a Grade 1 Malibu Stakes win by Bob Black Jack.