Last year’s Wood Memorial (Nobiz like Shobiz) fell on a beautifully sunny but really cold day; I barely ventured outside other than to watch the races, and for some I decided to watch on the televisions in the Manhattan Terrace.
The year before that (Bob and John), it rained a miserable, cold, soaking rain.
The year before that (Bellamy Road), it was actually pretty nice, and we hung out outside for most of the card, heading upstairs only when the sun deserted the apron.
So, in what has thus far been a fairly miserable spring, there was joy in Ozone Park as the much-forecast rain was nowhere in sight, a warm sun was shining, and the apron was packed with people NOT bundled up in scarves and hat.
There was joy because the Thoroughbred Racing in New York group** gathered for its eponymous race, watching as the aptly-named Herald Square “dug in gamely” to get “clear late,” winning by a length, then gathering in the winner’s circle for our photo.
There was joy because local favorites Evening Attire and Naughty New Yorker were running in the Excelsior—the Excelsior!—and even though they lost badly, they were saluted by the crowd as they headed back after the race.
There was joy because in the group show parlay we had going, Railbird made the gutsy choice to go with an 11 – 1 shot, who not only finished in the money, but who WON, nearly doubling our bankroll.
There was joy because the horses in the paddock before the Wood looked magnificent, and because two of our favorites, Tale of Ekati and War Pass, came back to run well after recent poor showings, and because I had the exacta, and because it was a great finish.
There was joy because I didn’t lose a lot of money.
There was joy because I got to hang out with ten amazing people who are smart, interesting, intellectual super-fun racing fans, one of whom took us to maybe the world’s best Italian restaurant, Don Pepe’s near the Aqueduct backside. So thanks to Green but Game and Railbird; Left at the Gate and Carol; Mitch and John D. and John S. and John H.; Rich and Ernie (to whom I owe both beverages food, and thanks for supplying me with same) and Adam, for helping to create one of the most fun days at the race ever. And if I forgot anyone…remind me!
Who cares about Spring at Last, when it’s spring at last at the Big A?
**I have been loath to plunge into the social networking world, but was recently persuaded to do so by the lures of other racing fans. So, racing fans with a Facebook account, please check out the group Thoroughbred Racing in New York. If Saturday was any indication, there are plenty of good times ahead…