All's sweet for Lemon Drop Kid's owners

On Horse Racing

June 27, 1999|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Jinny Vance and Laddie Dance have yet to return to Earth since their Lemon Drop Kid won the Belmont three weeks ago at Belmont Park.

"We've been on cloud nine," Vance said from their Taylor's Purchase Farm near Sparks. "It's been great. We've heard from people we haven't seen or talked to in years."

Lemon Drop Kid's next start will likely be Aug. 8 in the Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga. That will be a prep for the $1 million Travers Stakes on Aug. 28.

"He thinks he's the head honcho," Vance said of her handsome colt. "I think he knows he's done something wonderful."

Scotty Schulhofer, his trainer, said from his barn at Belmont Park that Lemon Drop Kid is "better than ever. He's the soundest, nicest horse I've ever been around. And that's saying something, because I've been around some nice ones."

Vance and her husband, Dance, will shop for racing prospects at Keeneland in July and September and Saratoga in August. They buy three or four each year. At the 1997 Keeneland September yearling sale, they paid $200,000 for Lemon Drop Kid.

Last August, they spent $835,000 on a Summer Squall colt at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Selected Yearling Sale. That was the third highest-priced yearling at the sale. His name is Postponed and, like the other Vance-Dance horses, he's trained by Schulhofer.

Schulhofer said he isn't sure when the colt will make his first start. Perhaps at Saratoga, he said.

Family fun at Ocean Downs

Sure as summer, Ocean Downs (make that Bally's at Ocean Downs) will open Thursday for 40 nights of fun and harness racing.

"We're just looking for a spectacular season," said Dennis Dowd, president of the track. "We've done a bunch of advertising. I'll go way out on a limb and say we'll average 2,000 a night."

Last year, Ocean Downs averaged about 1,800 patrons, which placed it 10th in average attendance among the country's harness tracks. Its schedule of live racing this year is generally Wednesday through Sunday, post time 7: 15 p.m. But there are several Wednesday and Thursday exceptions (no racing July 8, July 15, Aug. 12, Aug. 19, Aug. 25, Aug. 26, Sept. 1 and Sept. 2).

Parking and admission are free. Purses will be about $25,000 a night, thanks to the state subsidy. Competition from Harrington Raceway, the slots-rich track in Delaware, will be minimal. Harrington, with its $110,000 daily purses, will close July 8 and not reopen until the conclusion of Ocean Downs' meet.

Ocean Downs offers a full menu of horse racing simulcasts everyday. In addition, its director of racing and special events, Hugh Gallagher, has put together a schedule with something for everybody, including: On Thursday, opening night, bands, pony rides, Lollipop the clown and fireworks.

Flea markets 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through Sept. 12.

Bands beginning 6 p.m. every Sunday before the races.

On July 15, a blues festival beginning at noon featuring Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets with Sam Myers, Smokin' Joe Kubek with Bnois King, the Nighthawks and other first-rate bands.

On Aug. 12, a jump-blues festival featuring Asleep at The Wheel, Roomful of Blues, Jumpin' Johnny Sansone and Teenage Rust and the Fabulous Rustettes.

"We try to give it a little more country-fair atmosphere," Dowd said.

Testafly to Whitney?

Testafly is back. And his trainer, Dale Mills, expects big things from the 5-year-old powerhouse.

Of his sensational 12-length victory last Sunday at Pimlico in the $200,000 Baltimore Breeders' Cup Handicap, Mills said: "He ran like he had something to prove. He ran like an animal possessed. When I look at that stretch run, it gives me chills."

Testafly charged down the stretch in his first race in six months -- and first victory since testing positive for clenbuterol last August at Monmouth Park. Mills served his 45-day suspension but denies that he administered the drug or allowed anyone else to do so.

Perhaps that issue will fade now that Testafly has returned to the winner's circle. Mills said the Maryland-bred's next race might be Aug. 1 in the prestigious Whitney Handicap at Saratoga.

Around the tracks

The 65th annual Maryland Horse Breeders Association yearling show will begin at 10 a.m. today at the Timonium fairgrounds. Patrick Byrne, the Kentucky-based trainer, will judge.

Now that the fall thoroughbred meet at Colonial Downs is likely to take place, a limited schedule of open stakes races has been finalized. Lenny Hale, who serves as racing secretary at the southern Virginia track, listed these stakes as the highlights of the Sept. 6-Oct. 11 meet: On Oct. 1, $75,000 Chenery Stakes (2-year-old males), and on Oct. 2, $75,000 Tippett Stakes (2-year-old fillies) and $200,000 Virginia Derby. Colonial Downs is looking for a sponsor to boost the Virginia Derby purse to $250,000, what it was last year.

In addition, Hale says, eight stakes for Virginia-breds and two for Virginia-sired horses -- all with purses of $30,000 -- will be run. A $50,000 Grade II steeplechase race is tentatively scheduled Oct. 1.

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