A sincere and hearty "Happy Fourth" to all of you. I hope you are able to spend the day enjoying good weather, good food and good company this afternoon and evening.
I've been a bit absent from the site the past few weeks compared to my normal routine. I began a new job after the Preakness (yes, I have a life outside this site!) which changed my schedule significantly from the last few years. Things have finally settled down into some normalcy and I'm looking to get back into my handicapping and writing routine as the season moves into the peak summer months. So we'll just treat these last few weeks as my summer vacation with an imminent return with re-charged batteries.
Speaking of summer racing, Saratoga will open it's doors for their 150th meeting in just a couple of weeks - Friday, July 19th, while out in Southern California, Del Mar gets the summer racing season started on Wednesday, July 17th. Like most players, I'm eagerly awaiting the opening of each meet.
A new arrival to the summer racing calendar is Gulfstream, which is now essentially going head-to-head with Calder starting this month. I guess we'll have to wait and see how this format turns out but, and this is just my guess, I'm not sure the GP meet will live up to the status of its winter counterpart given the fact that the New York and Kentucky-based trainers will likely be at Saratoga this summer. Pletcher, et al, might bring their big guns to Gulfstream in the winter but I don't expect to see that kind of quality during the summer.
One of the biggest things I'll be keeping an eye on this summer at Gulfstream is the condition of the turf course. The lawn was pretty beat up by the end of the winter meet (as is typical at many tracks) and I wonder how the course will hold up during summer racing.
The stakes schedule is fairly light this holiday weekend (the G2-Swaps at Hollywood drew a field of just four and the Hollywood Gold Cup a field of five; it's sad to see Hollywood go out with fields these small field but it seems like many trainers have simply fled the scene.), but this weekend features a bunch of Grade 1s and the running of the Queen's Plate at Woodbine on Sunday. I'll have a preview post up in the next day or so taking a look at some of those races.
Have a Happy Fourth of July and keep it sane and safe... okay, somewhat safe.