A miscellany of Derby thoughts

I haven’t seen Jockeys; I haven’t checked race results; I’ve no idea whether the Pick 6 at Aqueduct was hit or whether any cat horses have won, or even raced, in the last few days. A much-welcomed international visitor, a quick trip out of town, and an unequivocally fun reunion have me waking this Monday as if from a racing fog: what the heck has happened since last Wednesday?

I do know that Friesan Fire won the Risen Star, giving track announcer John G. Dooley the opportunity to wax alliterative for the second consecutive year, but this year he left off the incendiary metaphor, earning my gratitude: “Friesan Fire first at Fair Grounds!”

Everyone with a keyboard is weighing in on Jockeys, the first two episodes of which aired on Friday evening. Reviews seem to have been generally good; I hope to catch up and post some late-to-the-party thoughts tomorrow.

Got any extra money lying around that you’d like to use on racing memorabilia? I recently found this site, which offers an amazing array of racing programs. The bargain hunter can pick up a program from the 1998 Wood (Coronado’s Quest) for $19.99 or from last summer’s Whitney (Commentator) for $9.99.

Those with more expansive bank accounts might consider Whirlaway’s 1941 Kentucky Derby program for $599.99, or a 1938 Saratoga Special program for $775.00.

Or, like me, you could window shop a little, dream a little, and start saving…

I did do a little racing investing this weekend myself, at the marvelous New York City bookstore The Strand. Billed as offering “18 miles of books,” it covers two huge floors of a Greenwich Village building and offers both the unexpected and the common, usually at very wallet-friendly prices. Yesterday’s purchases (all hardcover) included a review copy of Joe Drape’s To The Swift, an anthology of writing on the Kentucky Derby (half price at $13); The Big Horse by Joe McGinniss ($4.95); Drape’s Black Maestro, a biography of Jimmy Winkfield ($3.95), and falling into the delightfully unexpected and now-treasured department, a 1938 edition of Derby Day and Other Adventures, for the sweet price of $10. With that kind of luck, I should have been betting.

Finally, the Road to the Roses Derby fantasy game kicks off today. Last year, a number of Brooklyn Backstretch readers participated in a similar contest sponsored by the folks at ST Publishing (which brings us the Saratoga Special), with a donation being made in the winner’s name to the racing charity of her choice.

Later today I’ll be setting up a Brooklyn Backstretch league and tomorrow posting sign-up information; I’ll kick off the donation with $50, and others are welcome to kick in as they please, with no obligation whatsoever to donate. As was the case last year, all money collected will be donated in the winner’s name to a racing charity. You can e-mail me or post in the comment section if you’d like to join, or you can just sign up. I’ll be playing, so at least you’ll know you won’t finish last.

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