An avowed fan of winter racing in New York, I’ve frequently mentioned (including yesterday) that while I understand the logic of a few months off, I’d really miss the opportunity to trek out to the Big A in the depths of winter.
That was before yesterday, when it seemed impossible to get—and stay—warm if one ventured outside at all. A Canadian friend of mine says that there’s no bad weather, only bad clothing, so maybe it was my fault, but something about yesterday’s weather chilled me to the bone. Having to wait twenty minutes for the A train out on the wind-swept platform didn’t help, either. The feeling in my toes returned around 6:30 pm.
Watching the jockeys stride to their mounts, many of them wearing turtlenecks and other cold-weather gear, I wondered: do they have to give up a meal to wear that turtleneck, to add a layer of clothing? Somehow, most of them looked cheerful. The NYRA site has an article up about riding in this weather.
The racing didn’t too much to warm my heart, either; there was Felinefelon, looking in command in the stretch…and then living up his name, snatching second by bumping into rivals, then getting prosecuted and placed fourth.
What has happened to Irish Blast (right)? After an exciting winter of ’08, in which he finished first or second in his first five starts, he was injured in the spring and hasn’t finished better than fifth since. He was last yesterday. Starting to have uneasy thoughts when I consider his options…
Place Your Bet looked terrific in the paddock before the Paumonok…fit, muscle-y, energetic. He fairly danced out of the paddock up to the track, and in the stretch, I was, contrary to every rule of good betting (and good sense), ruing that I hadn’t made it to the window to, um, place my bet. And then True Quality won the duel, and I congratulated myself for not having given in to the rank manipulation of Place Your Bet’s name. It was a great race, and for a few minutes, I forgot that I could feel neither my fingers nor my toes.
The winter crowd at Aqueduct is made up of die-hards, so I was thus fairly surprised when, at three minutes to post, I got in line at a betting machine behind a young couple, fresh-faced, looking like they’d be more at home at Saratoga than at Aqueduct. They seemed to be rookies, as, rather cutely, they leaned against each other and on the counter, discussing their options. They pointed to the names on the screen, and looked at each other… “What about that one?” he asked her.
At two minutes to post, I inquired (okay, maybe a little less politely than I should have) about whether they were in fact ready to bet; they looked at me, startled. I felt a little ashamed of myself and walked to another window, while on they carried their discussion.
I saw them a few minutes later on the clubhouse apron; I hope they won, and I hope they’ll be back, and I hope that I’m not behind them next time!