A few thoughts on the mind of Brooklyn Backstretch this summer weekend:
The feature race on Friday at Presque Isle Downs was the Willy Wank. Yep, the Willy Wank. Google that and see what, ahem, comes up. I did; the only surprise was that the fourth result actually had to do with racing.
According to the Presque Isle Downs website, the race is one in a series that honors Pennsylvania-breds; Willy Wank raced from age two until age nine, compiling a record of 86 – 18 – 14 – 11, earning over $300,000. His home track was Keystone, now Philadelphia Park.
You can’t name a horse Sally Hemings, but Willy Wank makes the cut. Unbelievable. T.D. Thornton, author of Not by a Long Shot, wrote about the vicissitudes of Jockey Club naming decisions for Salon last fall.
I got to Belmont on Friday afternoon just in time to watch Eibar Coa go over the head of Storm Caller at the break. We saw the ambulance come back empty, so we knew that he was basically OK, but a report on the NYRA show on OTB TV on Saturday morning indicated that he had fractured some ribs and that he was at that point still unsure whether he’d take off his mounts. Jason Donovan indicated that the fractured ribs weren’t near any vital organs, so he’d probably be OK to ride. With fractured ribs??? I’m in agony just thinking about it. An article in yesterday afternoon’s Thoroughbred Times indicates that the ribs are bruised, not fractured, and that Coa did indeed take off his weekend mounts.
And speaking of OTB TV: there are several pieces of this situation that I don’t quite understand. I’m a little afraid that I should understand them, and that I will be soundly—and perhaps rudely–corrected, but as a teacher, I am operating on the premise that no question is a dumb question—not, perhaps, a particularly prudent perspective in the blogosphere.
But: why is that each morning I am privy to detailed handicapping programs from tracks like Calder, Gulfstream, Churchill, and Fair Grounds, but I can’t watch those races later in the day on the same channel? And why CAN I watch races from all of those other tracks on Capital OTB upstate? What is it that NYC OTB has against showing races at tracks other than the current NY meet?
And what on earth does the new OTB agreement have to do with NYRA’s ability to show video replay on its own website? NYRA must own that content…how does OTB have the right to forbid NYRA to show video of events that it is solely responsible for producing? I don’t get it.
Over the last few months, I’ve had the pleasure of making donations to two racing organizations on behalf of other people…but man, it hasn’t been easy. One winner chose the Disabled Jockeys Fund of the NTRA, and the only way to donate is to write a check: no phone donations, no electronic donations. I sent a check over a month ago; I’ve received no acknowledgement and the check hasn’t been cashed. I’ve looked in vain for a phone number or e-mail address: nothing.
Similarly, I’ve been trying to make a donation to BEST through the PayPal link on its website, which has been broken for some weeks now, so I’m going to go the same write a check, stamp an envelope route. I know that both of these organizations likely exist on tiny budgets, and that tech support is probably down on the list of budgetary needs—it makes sense that resources should go towards actually taking care of the jockeys and backstretch workers, rather than to administrative costs. I shudder to think, though, about how many donation opportunities are lost because donating isn’t easier.
Finally, John Dellapina in the New York Daily News reports that the NHL might be trying to kick the Dolan family out of the league and sell the Rangers to other owners. If the NHL could actually pull this off, I might take back every bad thing I’ve ever said about Gary Bettman.