Sundays are pretty good these days for Joe Parker. Last week, he took the Busher with his talented filly What A Pear, and yesterday, Gold Close to Him won the fourth race at Aqueduct.
The chestnut gelding had raced seven times for Gary Contessa before coming to Parker in a claim a week ago. He’d hit the board four times and finished fourth in the other three starts, mostly in 25K maiden claimers. Sunday, Parker moved him up and he won for fun, stalking the pace before pulling off to win by 12 ½. Reached after the race, Parker said, “I wasn’t afraid to take a chance to move up, and I was blessed with a good ride. I told [jockey Rafael Mojica, Jr.] to stay close and improve on his position,” orders that the jockey clearly followed.
So, after winning a total of four races last year, Parker’s got six wins in 2009. Last week, Ashley Herriman at NYRA did a follow-up on What A Pear’s win in the Busher.
Big news from Saratoga, that the estimable Siro’s is for sale. It’s been a part of Saratoga racing—both flat and harness—since the days of Harry and Eleanor Kirker, and while its most recent incarnation doesn’t quite live up to former versions of itself, a trip to the races at Saratoga isn’t really complete without a trip to Siro’s—even when it’s crowded and noisy and impossible to get an overpriced drink. Fortunately, this past summer they got rid of that ridiculous cover charge to the outside bar.
But I had to laugh when I read this:
Partner Davis Mead estimated a little more than a year ago that Siro’s serves an average of 300 dinners a night with the average check running around $90.
They’re kidding, right? The average dinner check runs around $90? A quick look at the menu reveals that such a thing is highly unlikely, unless each diner had a separate check. Or everyone had an entree only. Or people at the same table shared their dinners. It’s far more probable that the average bar bill is more than $90.
For the first time in a long time, on Saturday night I got to Madison Square Garden early enough to watch warm-ups. Down on the glass, close to the players, we watched them glide, swoop, circle, shoot—the athletes in motion were mesmerizing. We could forget for a while that for most of this season, those same athletes have disappointed over and over, beauty and grace overshadowed by fumbling and ineptitude.
It reminded me a little of the complaints about winter racing—the horses are racing too frequently; they’re too slow; race after race, it’s just one bad horse beating a bunch of worse ones.
Saturday night, the Rangers handily beat the team ranked 26th out of 30, a team coming off a couple of unscheduled days in New York City—it’s not hard to believe that they weren’t quite as energized as they might have been. But as is the case with the horses that we’re seeing out at Aqueduct these days, sometimes, it’s worth putting the records aside, ignoring the losses, and pausing a moment to simply marvel at the beauty of athletes, doing what they do so well, and what we so often take for granted.