On Thursday, NYRA announced that beginning tonight, Aqueduct and the Belmont Café will stay open until approximately 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Those who decide to hang out will be able to wager on Penn National Race Course, Turfway Park, Delta Downs Racetrack, Charles Town Races, and Sam Houston Race Park.
I can’t decide whether this thrills or terrifies me. I’ve been at Aqueduct – and Belmont – at night before, and “desolate” doesn’t quite cover it. These places were made for the daytime, and night does not, shall we say, bring out their hospitable side.
But who knows? Maybe the throngs sticking around will make the Big A a little cozier on a winter’s evening. I’ll definitely find out on a Saturday soon. (But not this one: I’m going to Saratoga.)
A little late on this, but earlier this week, there was yet another hearing in Albany about the state of New York Racing and OTB and oh, my goodness, what are we going to do about it all?
Or you could read this choice quotation and be done with it:
[Arthur] Walsh [of Nassau OTB] took aim at the New York Racing Association for opening an OTB at Belmont in the wake of New York City OTB’s closing, claiming that the Belmont OTB had stolen customers from Nassau’s nearby parlors. He also said that the state should authorize slot machines at OTBs. [Emphasis of course mine]
In better news:
I subscribe to the e-mail newsletters from New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program, and almost every day, I get a message about a Thoroughbred who’s been retired; I open every single one of these e-mails (unlike many of the newsletters to which I subscribe, which often get deleted unread), wondering whether I’ll see a name I recognize. Not long ago, I saw that a horse who used to belong to a fellow Belmont Child Care Association board member had been re-trained for a new career.
Race 1 kicked out with a nice bit of mayhem: The perhaps aptly named Yes I’m Clever decided that he’d really rather not go to the gate for the first race; he chucked his rider, Cornelio Velasquez, and made his merry way out of the chute and onto the training track. The Bruce Brown trainee missed the gap that would have led straight back to his barn, eluded an outrider, swung a u-turn, and then turned for home. According to reports from Belmont this morning, Brown indicated that the horse was fine. “He went home,” said the trainer.
He raced just once more after that, finishing fifth in October. According to New Vocations, he was retired because he was “no longer competitive,” after eight starts. Now, he’s being retrained for “lower level jumping and flat work”; until he’s adopted (he can be yours for $400!), he’s hanging out with Golden Guska, coincidentally the horse formerly owned by my BCCA colleague.
The anthropomorphically minded among us might say that he’s Clever indeed, telling us loud and clear that he didn’t want to race any more – he did, after all, run home from the racetrack – and now he’s learning a new job and loving “playing in the paddock with his buddy.”
We should all be so Clever.
Check back later today for Brian Nadeau’s look at this weekend’s Derby preps.