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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Cold Preps

- The fall meeting at Belmont used to be the Breeders Cup, though played out over six weeks instead of one day. Each weekend brought another big race, and each received the attention in the New York print media that it deserved. Now, every big stakes race run after Labor Day is just a prep, and most of the championships are determined on a single day.

Now that "super saturdays" chock full of graded stakes have become the norm, there are rarely any single races on a given day that command a majority of the spotlight anymore. Even Bernadini had to share attention with Henny Hughes, Lava Man, and all the other Grade 1 winners on Gold Cup day. There are so many big races nationwide that there is meaningful press coverage on only a few. And then on Breeders Cup day, the press usually concentrates their limited resources on one particular race, and the rest are noted in a brief paragraph each (if they're lucky); a season-defining race summed up in a few sentences. I'm just not convinced that the concept has helped the sport.

It certainly hasn't helped Belmont, and these days the Fall Championship Season is mostly just cold. And preps. Cold preps. I usually don't bet much this time of the year; it's my break time, and in the past, it's often run into Breeders Cup day. I watched many a race on those days without having any money at stake.

It was cold on Saturday as usual, and sunny spots are at a premium there as the sun sinks lower in the sky. I can only handle a couple of hours or so at a time there now. During the spring and summer, six hours can go by in a flash at Belmont or Saratoga; but today it seemed like a long time to the Champagne, even though I didn't even get there until after the 4th. And then I saw that the Form didn't have Keeneland in the regular edition sold there today, and the simulcast edition, usually available in abundance, was long sold out. That's the kind of thing that can make me wish I had just watched the races at home. We all love the national treasure that is the Daily Racing Form, but sometimes they can drive me nuts!

But I saw some good horses, and at least one great one, and it was all worthwhile. I'd write about them now, but I'm watching baseball, and so are you, so check back in a little while.

- Please feel free to email me with comments or questions.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

Sorry you don't like Belmont this time of year; I thought it was beautiful today, though cool. I suggest wearing an extra sweater and enjoying the time outdoors on a lovely fall day. Sometimes it's good to get away from the TV screen and experience things live, goosebumps and all.