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Monday, August 20, 2007

Shortest Drive, Biggest Four

- As I've been suspecting over the years, the distance between New York City and Saratoga continues to shrink, or so it seems. It was not more than a few minutes before 9 AM before we finally pulled out of our little driveway in Queens on Sunday. Sunday mornings is probably the best time to be on the road in the city. The leavers have all left, and the comers are still off in the Hamptons or upstate or whatever, and the traffic is minimal. After one quick local stop, we got on the Grand Central, past Shea Stadium onto the Whitestone Expressway, breezed over the bridge to an empty Cross Bronx Expressway, up the Bronx River to the Sprain Brook to the Taconic, all the way to the end; the Thruway Extension west to route 90 towards Albany, to route 787 towards Troy, a quick dash on Route 7 to the Northway, then up the remaining 17 miles to Saratoga. Off at Exit 13N, a right at the Honda dealer, left on Jefferson, past the harness track entrance that I entered regularly back in my college days in Schenectady, a right on Union Avenue, and into the owners' parking lot. Despite two stops on the way totaling around 15 minutes, we walked into the track with 18 minutes until the first. That means that I could have caught the early daily double at home on TVG, and swung up here in ample time for the late one. I swear, this drive used to take me four hours easily.

As soon as we walked in, the Head Chef breathed a sigh of relief. Looking at the park and all the open space, she felt freed from what she perceived as the confining claustrophobia of Del Mar. She noted that the angular nature of the architecture there boxed her in. But here she felt liberated. The circular Carousel Mini-Theater seemed warm and inviting to her. We found our spot in back of it, too far from the paddock for me, but one has to be willing to compromise. She was relaxed. Me too. I wouldn't have to hear any complaints at all.

Saratoga and Del Mar are different in many ways, but on this day, I found one thing to be quite similar. The weather! It was sunny and warm, but breezy and comfortable, without a trace of humidity whatsoever! I was expecting to look out over the infield and see the Pacific Ocean right there. And we're expecting more of the same today.

No luck for me at the races on a tough day, and I can use my usual excuse of being in a daze for the first day. So I don't have much to report other than a wonderfully pleasant day at the track. But congratulations to Richard Zausner, a former Castle Village partner who went out on his own and claimed Again and Again from the David Jacobson barn for 20K, moved him up with trainer Leah Gyarmati, and scored by the scantest of noses over favored Tactical Gold at 10-1 in the 7th. Richard appeared along with yours truly in the photo that accompanied my article in Barron's last year. I had the horse all over my tickets....except on top. Shame on me, but congrats to him and Leah for a job well done.

Another futile day for Pletcher, whose entry of turf maidens in the third took some significant late money down to 3-1. They both ran out of the money as George Weaver pulled a fast one with Pulla Fast One at 21-1. There was actually a lot of hot money in that race that went down the drain. Lumen, first-time turf for Mott, was bet on the nose to 3-1 from his 6-1 morning line; and Cosmic, a first-timer from Shug, who never wins with first-timers anymore was actually the favorite, also at 3-1. The latter actually bears close watching however after his fast close for third.

I thought I might get out on the day when Bella Attrice made a threatening move and appeared set to pass my underneath horses midstretch in the 8th. But she decided to hang and settled for third. And that was our last race of the day, as we skipped the feature, took our umbrellas and left to find our living quarters for the week and start to settle in. I also thought I'd park myself in front of the TV for the Del Mar races, but the Head Chef was not offering her services on this day. So we dined at the excellent Sushi Thai Garden, and perhaps I'll get her to write a review.

And I saved a lot of money on the Del Mar Classic, to be sure. I was all for going against Lava Man in the race, but I doubt I would have landed on Student Council who, according to Steven Crist in the Form, was purchased by Millennium Farms from Will Farish on the advice of Thoro-Graph's Jerry Brown. Nice bit of advice there.

- It's always a challenge finding a suitable radio station to listen to when one drives up the mountainous route we take up here. But yesterday the scan landed on WPDH, which originates from Poughkeepsie. They had a special weekend going on, devoting their airwaves solely to "the four biggest groups of all time." I'm not sure exactly what they meant by "biggest," but in any event, they were - the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.

Now, some of you have noticed the frequent indie-rock references I make here, and it's that category that much of what I listen to might fall into these days. However, I also have dated myself many times on this blog, so you may have surmised that I went through my formative years listening to the music that makes up today's "classic rock" genre. And while I don't find myself listening to the classics all that much now, that music obviously was a crucial and treasured element of my youth, and still retains much meaning to me.

Having said that, I can tell you that I have never - EVER - owned a Pink Floyd, not even that one! That's one band that just totally passed me by....or maybe it's the other way around. Many people find that hard to believe, but I was more partial to King Crimson when it came to melotrons. And though I was a Led Zep fan, and remember seeing them play at the Garden so long ago that it was when they still had early and late shows there, I wouldn't rank them amongst my personal "biggest" four bands of that particular era. For me, those would be: the Beatles, Stones, The Who, and Procol Harum. Feel free to chime in on that one. Time for me to chime in on Monday's card.


Anonymous said...

Procul Harum? That's like saying your favorite four horses from the 1990s were Cigar, Skip Away, Holy Bull and Littlebitlively.

Anonymous said...

Alan, dittos for me on Pink Floyd- just over all too depressing a sound to make it a steady diet. I agree on Beatles, Stones, The Who, but would replace Procul Harem with the Kinks. /S/Green Mtn Punter

Anonymous said...

Not sure if you saw this, but Discreet Cat is allegedly going to have a timed workout in the next few days. The only negative is that they're disappointed he won't make it back in time for the Forego...which doesn't sound like they're going to aim for the BC Classic. Maybe the Jerome again, then the BC Dirt Mile, followed by Dubai again before retiring him?

Handride said...

4 rock bands I couldn't live without (I'm 29)
Led Zep
The Who

Ernie said...

No Jorma?

5) Chuck Berry
4) Fogerty
3) Clapton
2) Johnny Winter
1) Jorma

Anonymous said...

I was at the Spa yesterday too! I think you could have made money by just playing 7/8 boxed exactas all day. the pick 3 was 7-7-7!

Anonymous said...

I am going to call B.S. on the DQ in the 5th. There is no way they should have taken down Victory for Sierra. Lady Joanne damn sure bumped Octave harder Saturday. Savasana was beaten fair and square. I keep watching the head-on and still can't see how the stewards made that descision. I think they screwed up Saturday as well and Lear's Princess should have won the Alabama!!!

Anonymous said...

where is the inquiry in the 6th, Desormeaux wins the 5th unjustifyably and when he cuts off the 5 in the 6th-no stewards inquiry. Can't beleive it

jeff said...

Gotta go with Bruuuuuuuuuuuce.

Next few days at Spa:

Wed., race 7, Lemon Drop Gal went wide, flattened out a bit in stretch when jock lost whip.

Thur., race 7, Monster Drive sat just off real quick 1/4, moved to lead, and won duel to wire.

Fri., race 4, Sneaky Girl made a big move at top of stretch, finished 2nd.

Sat., haven't seen King Bishop entries yet, and I know Hard spun could be a handful, but if he goes, Most Distinguished moved into a .44 half, and came on strong late for the win, plus had a real quick work the other day.

zarpo said...

I agree 100% about Floyd

procal harum???


Anonymous said...

Early influences, Stones, Doors, The Who, The Kinks.

Later, The Clash,Ramones, Stranglers and Talking Heads.


alan said...

The Troggs?

Not one person who has disparaged my selection of Procol Harum has spelled the band's name right! They may be known for the lilting ballad Whiter Shade of Pale, but Procol Harum made some of the fiercest air guitar music of the era, led by their lead guitarist Robin Trower, who played with the band on classics such as Shine On Brightly, Home, and Broken Barricades. Check 'em out.

rgustafson said...

Robin Trower's Bridge of Sighs is one of my favorite guitar albums of all time.