The weekend at Belmont: sights, sounds, musings

If you haven’t listened to Tom Durkin’s call of Saturday’s Turf Classic, you should. The admiration for Grand Couturier is there in his voice; for a few moments at the end, he sounds more like a fan than a professional race-caller:

And Grand Couturier is cut loose! At the top of the stretch! Grand
Couturier now overtakes–no, overwhelms–Summer Patriot! Grand Couturier
is running away from them, oh, majestic victory here, for Grand Couturier, and
he scores a dominating victory, won by eight lengths…

I can’t replicate here the admiration in his voice, or his little chuckle of appreciation as Grand Couturier draws away. You can see it at the NYRA website, where you can register for free. It’s the ninth race.

Wish that I had a picture of Alan Garcia’s face as he walked to the phone to talk to the stewards following the objection in the Turf Classic; if a picture is worth a thousand words, this picture would have curdled milk. A few minutes later, he was all smiles…

Near-apocalyptic rain was forecast for both Friday and Saturday, leading NYRA to cancel racing on Friday and no doubt to a smaller crowd on Saturday. Can NYRA sue for lost income? The forecast for both days was so ridiculously wrong—you can just see the weather folks smiling as they shrug and say, “Oops…” Again.

Poor Black Seventeen…did no one come from California to see him collect his first Grade I win? He looked awfully lonely in the winner’s circle.


As I sold T-shirts for Backstretch Employee Service Team on Saturday, I also promoted a golf outing at a Long Island golf course, the proceeds of which will benefit BEST. I asked dozens of purchasers if they were golfers, and not a single one said yes…most laughed. And today, I read this from Winston at Gathering The Wind:

I was stuck in Hilton Head for the last few days and since I feel about golf the
way most people feel about horse racing, the charms of the place were lost on
me.

So what’s the deal? What is it about golf that makes horse players run away in droves?

On Saturday at Belmont I was talking with a friend about the probability of Evening Attire’s imminent retirement; when you’re talking about a ten-year-old with a filled ankle, it doesn’t take much in the way of horse smarts to think that the (second) end of a career is near.

Though it wasn’t planned this way, the grey guy gets to go out a winner, having won his last start in the middle of July, a Win and You’re In stakes race at Philadelphia Park. It’s a shame that it took place out of state, far from the locations of his greatest triumphs and his greatest fans, but we can be grateful that there’s not a single sour note in his racing career. He was a little less than $29,000 short of the $3 million mark, and it might have been nice to see him hit that milestone, but it’s even nicer to know that he’s retiring relatively sound. We can only hope that wherever his next home is, he’s a little happier in retirement this time around than he was last time.

7 thoughts on “The weekend at Belmont: sights, sounds, musings

  1. On why horse racing patrons are turned off by golf:It’s probably due to the elitism, exclusivity and cost of entry to the game…Wish I had seen Curlin win.

  2. Horse racing reaches out to all economic classes while golf traditionally has been a “rich” man’s game. Ironically golf does have a gambling element as many golfers will bet on themselves while out on the golf course. A good golfer often ends his day with more money in his pocket, much like a good horseplayer.

  3. I see, Winston, that tongue in your cheek even from here! Love it. It’s funny, I would have thought that the elitist elements of both sports might have brought them together…The number of hockey/racing fans never ceases to amaze me (though most hockey players are incredible golfers–so there’s crossover there).I hope that those who decry the “down time” between races aren’t choosing to fill their leisure time on the links…

  4. I live across the street from a cricket club, I can’t claim golf is too elitist. Just too boring.But why are there so many archivist/racing fans?

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