Random Notes upon Re-entry

Vacations are great. Vacations in warm places with beautiful beaches are even greater. And vacations in warm places with beautiful beaches that are relatively near racetracks verge on the sublime.

Approximately 2500 miles, eleven days, four stops, and eight states later, I’m back in the borough of churches. The cats are thrilled to see me, and while I’m a little homesick for warm weather, flowers, and Gulf waters, it’s nice to be home. I took a peculiar comfort in being able to flip to the OTB channel and catch some live racing on TV for the first time in a week and a half.

I didn’t follow NY racing all that closely while I was gone, though I did, of course, pay attention to the short-term resolution (on December 31st, natch) to the franchise issue (here’s to the next solution coming on January 22nd, the day before the extension expires), and to a few Aqueduct results, notably Be Bullish’s and Pink Viper’s victories last Thursday, both of whom I’d have bet if I’d been around. 2008 is only six days old, and the woulda, coulda, shoulda mantra begins. Of course, I’d also have bet Fairy Godmother that day, and she lost; I was staying in Florida with my godmother, and when I was a child, I called her my fairy godmother, my young mind unaware that not all godmothers are fairy godmothers. Mine, of course, was then, and still is.

I spent Friday at Tampa Bay Downs and will post a full report in the next day or two, but I can’t resist sharing these tidbits now:

–The second floor grandstand bar features a Seabiscuit exhibition; a series of nicely-designed posters begins outside and continues inside around the room, full of photos and information. I was the only woman in the room, and further made myself conspicuous by being the only person paying the slightest attention to the exhibit. Driving to see some friends that evening, I caught the seemingly endless coverage of the Iowa caucuses on NPR’s All Things Considered, and the story of the bizarre occurrence of both Mike Huckabee and John Edwards comparing themselves to said underdog equine. Alan at Left At The Gate has already noted this, but the bizarre confluence of Seabiscuit appearances in my life in one afternoon is too weird to go unremarked.

Adding to Friday’s theater of the bizarre is this sample past performance in the front of the program:

Really? Who knew that Barbaro began his career in France, ran in five claiming races, and ended his career at the Fair Grounds? The introductory paragraph helpfully notes, underlined and in bold, that “The past performance lines used in this How to Read (sic) are not actually associated with Barbaro.” The biographical, so to speak, information is correct–owner, trainer, jockey, race record, etc.—but apparently Barbaro’s pp’s are simply not complex enough to offer useful information to the rookie racegoer. Don’t let that stop you, though—go ahead and make up some stuff, rather than using some real horse whose past performances would have yielded the information the program editors sought. It kind of reminds me of those cheap essays that begin, “SEX! OK, now that I’ve got your attention, let’s talk about floor cleaner…”

3 thoughts on “Random Notes upon Re-entry

  1. Very interesting, I hadn’t heard Edwards compare himself to Seabiscuit. And it’s downright sick that Huckabee would, and then tell reporters his favorite dish is made with horsemeat – “tastes like chicken”. UGH.The program notes were more than a little creepy, IMO. Geez, if you want to get peoples attention, use Secretariat or even the aforementioned Seabiscuit or some other horse from many more years gone by. This one’s still too new.

  2. I’ve noticed the same thing in other pari-mutuel programs. A harness track I went to once had Niatross running in claiming races at Pompano, for instance.

  3. Niatross! Wow–I love hearing his name. When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time at Saratoga Harness, and I’ll never forget watching him go over the rail. He was my horse hero, seemingly invincible. One of my favorite flashes from the past.

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