After thirty-eight racing days, twenty-three stakes races, ten Grade I’s, and a repeat winner in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, on Sunday Belmont closed its doors, as New York racing shifts to Aqueduct for six months.
I’m looking forward to the opening of the Big A—no more LIE for me, back to the A train—but I’ll miss the beauty of Belmont, despite the fact that far too many of its fall meet Saturdays were grey and rainy.
In chronological order, a look back at some of the high points:
–Backseat Rhythm’s victory in the Garden City, on opening weekend. Her run down the stretch was just gorgeous, and she met many of these fillies a month later at Keeneland, beating all but one of them.
–The Fabulous (pun intended) finish in the Vosburgh, when Black Seventeen just beat the determined, resolute, oh so game Fabulous Strike.
–Grand Couturier’s victory in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic; he demolished the field.
–Later that day, Curlin’s repeat win in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, garnering him entry into the elite club of horses to repeat in this 90-year-old race.
–Watching—and listening to—Dominic Galluscio as his 75 -1 shot Stormy’s Smile wires the field in the Maid of the Mist.
–Brooklyn Backstretch favorite Ice Cool Kitty wins the Iroquois on New York Showcase Day, paying $25.80, making the felines and the humans in our home pretty happy.
–Sargent Seattle finally gets back to the winner’s circle. This colt from the original connections of Discreet Cat (Stanley Hough/Robsham Stables) made a splash at Saratoga as a two-year-old in 2007, sparking conversation that he’d follow the Discreet Cat path to Dubai. He wasn’t sold, though, and he didn’t race again until October of last year; in his next four starts didn’t finish better than fourth. And then last Sunday, he made it back to the winner’s circle.
–Playing a Pick 6 for the first—and possibly last—time in my life, taking a shot at the quadruple carryover in the last week. It was fun for the thirty-three or so minutes it lasted; we were knocked out in the second leg.
–Evening Attire retires, making his last appearance at Belmont the day of the Breeders’ Cup, to which he had secured a berth with a win in his last race, the Greenwood Cup at Philadelphia Park.
–Kodiak Kowboy brings Larry Jones to the winner’s circle on Breeder’s Cup day, in the Grade III Sports Page.
I guess you could say, in a sense, that we’re entering the off-season, when I should sensibly be turning my attention from Ozone Park to Madison Square Garden…but last year, Aqueduct brought us National Pride and Numaany and Saratoga Russell, and Evening Attire’s win in the Queens County and the début of Irish Blast. The big names might shortly head south, but the stories are still there; for a few more weeks we’ve got turf racing, the stakes races are still on the calendar, and the Manhattan Terrace can be a pretty pleasant place to spend an afternoon. See you Saturday?