A laudably cheerful race fan commented about opening day and my photos on yesterday’s post:

Nice dry photos !! We went to the track (drip) and signed up for NYRA Nation.
What the heck (drip) played a few races (drip) and all set for the late post
time tomorrow at 1:35p.m. (drip). Saw the Thorofans and decided not to join as
the special “Saratoga Rate” at $20.00 was only for an membership that expires at
the end of 2008 (so does that mean it will cost $40.-50. next year ???)(drip)
And yes, we got very wet…drip.

So here’s to you, Mr./Ms. Anonymous at 6:32 pm:

Wednesday was the wettest day that I’ve spent at the Spa since Travers Day 2002 (Medaglia D’Oro); it was colder that day, and I spent it in the backyard, so today was an improvement in that I had seats inside and it was fairly temperate. Nonetheless, when I walked to my car at the end of the day, there was a good half-inch of water in my shoes. Pleasant it was not.

In at least one respect, though, Saratoga 2008 got off to a better start than Saratoga 2007. In last year’s first race, much of the crowd was rooting for Massoud, who’d won the first race of the 2006 meet. Entered in the same spot last year, he fatally broke down in the stretch, Lieutenant Danz falling over him, putting a damper on the day despite the glorious weather. Lieutenant Danz came back to race regularly, but I thought of Massoud today, and am happy to report on safe trips for all. The equine ambulance came out to the track after the feature, but I didn’t see anyone get into it, and all of the horses seemed to get off the track safely.

The Brooklyn Backstretch family had a decent day at the windows: Father Backstretch had three winners, including Debating in the finale for $13.00 and Jardin in the feature for $26.40; Mother Backstretch had three exactas, but unfortunately bet only two of them; and yours truly had one exacta, which is quite satisfactory, given that last year it took me until August 3rd to cash a ticket.

Less satisfactory was paying $3 for the program that cost me $2.50 at Belmont four days ago. When I was growing up in Saratoga, restaurants would unabashedly put stickers over the prices on the menus, covering up their regular prices with their elevated “August rates.” I imagine that program rates are up to stay, but they were $2 last summer (yes? several of us remember that was the case), $2.50 this spring, and now $3. Sheesh.

Not thrilled at the addition of a gift stand, in a tent, in the backyard right near the paddock. It is prime paddock-viewing real estate, and not only does it take up a spot where a table could be, but it blocks the view of anyone behind it. Bad, bad idea.

Walking to the track this morning, we were greeted by hordes of kids, probably between the ages of 11 and 15, about; some had gone to local warehouse stores to buy cases of bottled water and Gatorade to sell to track-goers at a buck apiece, a bargain compared to prices inside; others were selling tip sheets. I love that there are kids not old enough to bet touting picks outside and selling their own and others’ selections. The spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well in Saratoga’s youth.

And speaking of bargains, how great is it to buy 30 cans of Labatt’s at the local beverage store and get change for a $20? A steal, compared to the $7.25 I paid for a Brooklyn Lager in the grandstand.

Thursday sees the return of Gotham winner Visionaire and the running of the Sanford Stakes for two-year-olds, first run in 1913. In 1921, a horse named Upset beat Man o’War in the latter’s only defeat, thus coining the term for an underdog beating a favorite. Todd Pletcher’s won four of the last eight runnings (1999: More Than Ready; 2003: Chapel Royal; 2006: Scat Daddy; 2007: Ready’s Image—love those generational victories), and sends out Bullion Cache today.

More rain forecast for today, and before Wednesday’s racing ended, NYRA had cancelled today’s steeplechase, the first race on the card, and taken all grass courses off the turf. So post time is 1:35, and we begin with race 2. Even though it’s really the first race.

7 thoughts on “Drip

  1. Yeah, I’d be mad about paddock blocking … that’s my favorite part of the race track. Hope the weather clears up!

  2. 1) I hope Father Backstretch played Jardin and Debating in the late double. Give him my best.1A) Glad you hit an exacta, so Father Backstretch couldn’t call your handicapping skills into question again.2) I like the addition of rolling doubles. It gives you a chance to take your best back-to-back win bets on the card, play them to win and put them in a double.3) Nice Grand Slam ($76.50)yesterday.4) Once again, NYRA doesn’t fail to disappoint with a $3 Post Parade program. Newsprint and ink are up. Don’t be surprised if $3 sticks at Belmont.5) I’ve given up on buying beverages on-track. Last week at Penn National, I packed the cooler with a gallon of water (75 cents), a bottle of diet Coke ($1.11), a 40-oz. bottle of Coors Light ($2.95) and Solo cups. A bag of ice was $1.65. Didn’t spend a dime on beverages at the track.5A) Haven’t had Labatt’s in years.6) I read that the restaurant tent in the back isn’t very asthetic.7) Why does everyone disparage the steeplechase racing. I still want to drag you to the Breeders’ Cup Steeplechase in Far Hills, N.J. in October. No wagering. Lots of good and drink.8) If it’s $7.25 for a Brooklyn Lager, what must food cost?

  3. Thanks for remembering Massoud, Teresa. He was bred and owned by a friend of mine and was a true labor of love — a pretty nice horse on those infrequent occasions when he was able to race. I owned at one time a full sister of Massoud’s named Panjshair. Massoud was named for the Afghan Mujahedeen leader who fought the Soviets to a stalemate in the, you guessed it, Panjshair valley during the war there in the 80s. Panjshair eventually suffered ligament injuries and now lives her days comfortably as a broodmare in Virginia.

  4. A “friend” tells me there was an impromptu meeting after the race day concluded at the Stadium Sports Bar, where several prominent bloggers, fans and family spoke on a variety of topics. Apparently, betting strategies, opening day weather, the history of harness racing and potato chips were debated (as well as Debating, the horse). Apparently, NYRA may have also been discussed. Can you confirm this is true?

  5. If I recall, Frank, Massoud was claimed in that race, and was coming off a pretty major layoff. Was a terrible shame, and made it tough to enjoy the rest of the day.Anon@ 10 am: I hear that Crist and Moran are in town, but I’ve no idea if they eat at the Stadium.

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