The front page of the NYRA website today has a story on the upcoming Anna House holiday party in which the children will get to choose presents to give to their families. Even better, the story is written by Jenny Kellner, who was a panelist at the women in racing panel at the benefit for B.E.S.T. last Sunday. Rita Mulhall of the Floral Park Junior Women’s Club, which provides both financial assistance and volunteers for the event, says, “These are our neighbors, and their children…If it weren’t for the people who take care of the horses, there wouldn’t be any racing. You can’t take care of the world, but you do what you can” [NYRA]. I’ll be heading out there myself on Saturday to help at the party, and there’s still time to donate if you’d like, by going to the Belmont Child Care Association website.
The November 20th edition of Inside Racing featured hosts Jason Blewitt and Eric Donovan discussing their top six New York races of the year. The first of course is the Belmont; as they note, anyone who saw that race will never forget it, and sometimes I still can’t believe that I was lucky enough to be there. I was sick as a dog that day; I’d spent most of the previous night throwing up, but there was no way I wasn’t going. I always meet my brother and some friends there at around 9 am, and shortly after we met up I headed straight to the Belmont infirmary, in time to see both Julien Leparoux and Robby Albarado come down for some routine check-in. How many of you can say you’ve seen Robby Albarado in a bathrobe?
The women at the infirmary were incredibly compassionate and helpful; somehow they managed to find me a banana (have you ever seen a banana at Belmont?), and, fortified with that and some ginger ale, I made it back to my seat. The outcome of my bets didn’t do much for the state of my stomach, but as Rags and Curlin came around the turn neck and neck, I was standing on my seat, jumping up and down screaming—how I didn’t break an ankle, I’ll never know. The breathtaking stretch run is something I will never forget, nor will I forget Tom Durkin’s call, bookended by comments on Rags. He began, “Oh! And the filly bobbled at the break!” and ended, “And it’s going to be….a filly in the Belmont!”
Oh, yeah, and I had the winner and the exacta.
The second race in Blewitt and Donovan’s top six is Better Talk Now’s performance in the Manhattan Handicap on the Belmont undercard. Until I saw it again recently, I’d forgotten what a great race it was, and how exciting the finish was, with Better Talk Now, English Channel, Shakis…and ?? who was the fourth horse?…in that amazing blanket finish. Better Talk Now’s run up the rail was just amazing; you didn’t quite think that he was going to get there, but there he was, charging up and taking control right at the end. And what about Shakis, rushing up on the outside? Watching this race, his win in the Bernard Baruch two months later is no surprise.
Race 3 takes us to Saratoga and the Alabama. Lady Joanne had gotten attention with her first win of the meet a few weeks earlier, and Octave had just beaten Lear’s Princess in the Coaching Club American Oaks at Belmont in July. This was a great field of fillies, and watching Calvin Borel aboard Lady Joanne box out his competitors as they came to the wire had to gain your admiration…unless you were rooting for Lear’s Princess, as I was. I’m still not totally sure that he didn’t interfere with Octave and Lear’s Princess, but that takes nothing away from Lady Joanne. I’m not a big fan of hers, but she ran a great race that day, and here she is in the paddock.
Races 4, 5, and 6 in an upcoming post; off to the Garden to watch the Rangers take on the Leafs Thursday night. The last time these two teams met, in Toronto, there was nearly a fight during warm-ups, so I’ll be sure to get there early. Plus, I love the Canadian National Anthem.