Delayed reactions

Travel, technology, and logistics have delayed the renovation of the site, along with reactions to East Coast racing news over the last few days. Lovely as Florida is, it seems that I picked a lousy week to be away from New York, given the racing news emanating from my home state.

On Sunday, NYRA horsemen chose not to run their horses in the first race in protest of the state’s inability to take action on the many issues facing New York racing, most notably the deplorable and inexcusable delay in approving a VLT operator. On Monday, a judge ruled that New York City OTB’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy is legit. On Saturday, the Ladies Handicap will be run for the 139th time, back on the calendar after a year’s hiatus, one little bit of good news in the miasma engulfing New York racing.

Further south, the general consensus is that we’ll not see a Kentucky Derby winner emerge from last weekend’s Florida Derby, but that wasn’t the concern of the winning connections of Ice Box last Saturday afternoon. Thrilled at the Grade I win, thrilled at the prospect of going to Louisville, they whooped and hollered their way down to the winner’s circle and into the interview room, through nearly a solid wall of well-wishers, so packed was the Gulfstream apron. Owner Robert LaPenta, who shares an alma mater with Brother Backstretch and whose horses race in the colors of Iona College, declared himself “over the moon” after the race; of the tight finish he said, “I thought we were first…but I was praying that we were first.”

Trainer Nick Zito, for whose presence the Road to the Roses will be that much more interesting, expressed a similar sentiment. “I was in a box on the wire and I could see that he dropped his nose; I got really excited. Of course, you have to wait until the photo goes up.” He heaped high praise on jockey José Lezcano: “I love this jockey, I can’t say enough about him. He reminds me of Braulio Baeza, with a little Pincay in him.”

Zito indicated that the plan for the race was for Ice Box to drop as far back as he did. “Get to the fence, let them all go, see what happens. He was way back, but once he came with that run, I said, ‘Whoa! Here we go!’” And go Ice Box did, first to the winner’s circle, and now to the Kentucky Derby.

More later this week on both the New York situation and on the expanded Gulfstream Park, whose Village has finally, at long last, opened. Perhaps there’s hope yet for VLT’s in New York.

Below, this week’s Brooklyn Backstretch charity league standings. This weekend’s races are the Lane’s End, the Louisiana Derby, and the Sunland Derby; Brian’s previews will be posted, and don’t forget to check the entries and activate your power horses. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the charity donation.

1 HoosYourDaddy
2 Bourbon Bliss Barn
3 Kelso’s Kennel
4 Dream On Stable
6 Green but Game Stable
7 Brooklyn Backstretch
8 Chestnut Bay Stable
9 FoolishPleasure
10 Mersch Stable
11 Matador
12 Sleipnir Stables
13 Jenny’s Picks
14 Kingsbury I
15 SaratogaSpa1
15 Sassy Hounds
17 Fan of Tiznow Stable
18 TripleDeadHeat
18 One Never Nose Stables
20 Superterrific Stable
21 TiznowTizthen Stable
22 Lookin at Winnin’ Stable
23 NJDerek’s Stable
24 Birdstone
25 Rubber Soul Racing
26 Silver Stables
27 Caballos Especiales
28 Alpha Barn
29 Rockingham Park Redux
29 JRT Racing
29 easy goer
32 Brooklyn Saint Stables
33 BSquared Stable

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