Gotham Day, 2011

Though it’s only early March, my Saturdays at Aqueduct are numbered: family commitments, pet responsibilities, and travel plans (work and play) mean that available March and April weekends are in short supply, so on this first Big Day of Racing at the Big A for 2011, I determined to settle in for the long haul.

The Grade 3 Gotham might not have sent frissons of racing fever through many, but four stakes races on the card, two of them graded, and the return of a promising two-year-old brought 7,114 people to the old track in Ozone Park.

I headed out early to get some work done, completely neglecting to consider that it was Gotham Day, and the press box would be more crowded than usual. Only the most focused (read: not I) put aside socializing for work; with stakes run as races three, four, five, and nine, there was much upping and downing. I would certainly have gotten more work done at home.

But if I’d stayed home, I’d have missed seeing the Todd Pletcher/Ramon Dominguez duo win three stakes races; missed seeing Pletcher himself on a New York winter Saturday; missed seeing Bobby Flay turn out to root home his Sensational Slam in the Fred “Cappy” Capossela. (Ever wondered who he is? Check out my post from a year ago.)

I’d have missed seeing the ever-game Meese Rocks get a win after suffering from serious seconditis lately; it came in the Broadway, her first win of 2011, just two weeks after a fourth in the Barbara Fritchie. Her trainer Edward Barker said, “It was a total non-effort last time, and I knew it. She has a lot of heart, this filly, I’ll tell you that. I love her.” She’ll now get a well-deserved break, and we’ll see her next late in the Belmont meet, or maybe at Saratoga.

I’d have missed seeing Flat Bold in the paddock; he didn’t do too well in the Tom Fool, but my goodness, he looked great before the race.

I’d have missed seeing these silks. Unfortunately, the horse underneath the man wearing them finished last. 😦

And I’d have missed the return of Stay Thirsty, who won the 63rd Gotham. Owner Mike Repole gushed about this son of Bernardini after the race, saying that he hopes that Stay Thirsty and Uncle Mo dead-heat in the Derby, so that he can “win two.”

I’d have missed the night-time crowd at the track; Aqueduct and the Belmont Café now stay open until 11 pm, and the Man o’War Room was about a third full at around 7:30. I ran into Dominick – do you remember Dominick? I wrote about him here, and I don’t think that I’ve seen him since then…oh, wait, yes, I did, at Big Brown’s Belmont.

He was handicapping Penn National, watching Santa Anita, and declaring stoutly, “I will not bet Yonkers. I’m not betting Yonkers.” I don’t think he did. I think he had the Fluke/Caracortado exacta ($15.20).

I’d have missed getting a drive-by marriage proposal from someone walking behind my chair; I think that it was the same guy, lean, neatly dressed, with gorgeous braids, whom I saw standing in front of the big TV a while later, arms in the air. One might have been mistaken him for a gymnast nailing a dismount.

I’d have missed being in the thick of it for the Santa Anita Handicap Drama, and I’d have missed the perplexed bartender asking me what kind of glass my wine should be poured into. I guess there aren’t a lot of white wine drinkers in the Man o’War Room, and after tasting what she poured, I could understand why.

I didn’t stick it out until the end, I confess. While the lure of my re-discovered buddies, of a second glass of wine that to my slightly dulled taste buds could only taste better than the first, of another hour or two of Charles Town races was hard to resist, I made my way to the A train with other tired souls, after a solid nine hours of Big A quality time.

I’ll think of those souls next week, and the three weeks after that; I’ll be there next on the Really Big Day at the Big A, on April 9. We know that Stay Thirsty won’t be back, but Uncle Mo is expected to be, in the Wood Memorial, and Calibrachoa, in the Carter. Maybe it’ll be warm. Maybe some other Derby contenders will show up. Maybe the place will be packed. Almost certainly, Dominick and the boys will be there.

More photos of Gotham day here.

7 thoughts on “Gotham Day, 2011

  1. Great post Teresa, although referring to Aqueduct as “the old track in Ozone Park” made me shutter. Wasn’t Aqueduct built in the early sixties? 50 yrs is not “old” by horse racing standards.

    The winner’s circles pictures with the debris backgrounds are a surreal commentary on the state of the game.

    Love your stuff, always will!!

  2. It was meant sort of facetiously, given the rubble everywhere, but actually, Aqueduct has been around since 1894. Huge renovation in the mid-50’s and it re-opened in 1959 to much fanfare, touted as the finest sporting establishment in the world. Really.

    And thanks. 🙂 The only caveat being when I write about Gulfstream?

  3. Teresa, From my poor vantage point in front of the TV, I thought the Gotham card looked a liitle stale. Maybe if I had been in the Man O War room it would have been fresher.. I much preferred the slam bang Big cap card and resulting aftermath. Care to weigh in on what you saw and who should be keel hauled. I would be interested in a New York take. If you decline maybe one of your loyal cadre would offer up a point of view, Possibly Mr. Song who seems to be very focused.
    As is the norm your report was more interesting then the Gotham.

  4. If Mr. Bright is referring to moi, I have stopped playing California racetracks since they upped their takeout to a ridiculous level. So, I didn’t even bother to watch the Big Cap live either. But, I share your pain. After seeing the Aqueduct/Belmont/Saratoga stewards allowing horses ridden by Maylan Studart to stay up, (she did the same exact thing more than once), after she made right turns in the middle of the stretch, impeding horses and almost knocked Dominguez to the ground, anything is possible. There was a total disregard for the other horses in the race, not ridden by Ms. Studart. There was also no regard for rider or horse safety, either. Does a jockey or horse to get seriously injured, or killed, to have the idiot stewards understand the message they were communicating? There was irony involved in this, too. The following day in every instance, the stewards voted to suspend Ms. Studart for “careless riding.”

    As far as your Big Cap race, you might console yourself with the following article:

  5. You write great poetry…

    The.. I would of missed refrain
    like a soft soft rain caressing
    all the blessings of another
    Belmont day.

    The horses, friends and fans,
    the silks, the souls, a proposal
    and white wine…all a toast

    Weeks past and days to come
    all glisten with your hum…


  6. Looked at some of the photos, and I can’t see how that whole area, being converted to a patio is going to be ready when the casino is supposed to open late this spring.

    Sounds like you had a fun time on Saturday at Aqueduct.

  7. Bob, I was surprised that Game On Dude wasn’t taken down, but I haven’t watched the replay that closely, and I haven’t seen the race since Saturday night.

    Thanks, Mike, for the kind words.

    Walt, I think the opening is now scheduled for late summer.

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