It can't be a good sign at all that the weekend cards at Aqueduct were so very desultory after that extended break during the week preceding. I've always been a fan of winter racing here, but I'm having a really hard time sticking with it at this time. And it didn't help to be at the track on Saturday, when a) the card particularly sucked; and b) the cancellation of live racing steered me toward warmer climes and the far higher quality of racing they attract. Turf racing, cool! Maybe I'm wrong about this, and, in fact, other regulars I've queried haven't expressed the same opinion (at least up until this weekend). But the racing here now seems particularly drab to me this year, even for the heart of the winter.
- Interesting comment on the last post by Steve Zorn.
It actually wasn't the cold, but the track condition that caused yesterday's cancellation. I was talking with Rosie Napravnik this morning, in the warmth of the Belmont training track clockers' stand, and she said that the track material was clumping up and making the surface hazardous. And here I thought we'd finally found track maintenance folks who had a handle on how to keep things going through the winter.The original explanation was that the racing was canceled due to "extreme cold," but a subsequent press release said merely that racing "has been cancelled [sic] effective after Race 3 on January 30, 2010." Additionally, Jerry Bossert reported in the News: It must have been a close vote as no jockey wanted to comment on the cancellation, including [Ramon] Dominguez.
So it definitely seems as if something was going on that both sides didn't want us to know, so thanks to Steve for pointing that out. NYRA obviously would rather not have questions raised about the safety of its surfaces at this point in time. The problem that he described sounds like something we sometimes hear about on synthetic tracks in cold weather at tracks like Woodbine or Turfway.
Hal Handel did his live chat on Friday, and you can read the transcript here. It covers a wide range of issues and seems worth checking out, though I wouldn't call it a frank and open exchange He did however take a couple of questions about the environmental violations, and when asked about the amount of fines, responded "we do not believe that the reality is even remotely connected with some of the news accounts." And that's the only public statement I've yet seen from the association regarding the matter.
Pletcher won the third with Sharp Instinct ($5.20), and ran 1-2 in the Coyote Lake with Tiger's Rock ($5.30) and favored Nite Light, continuing his torrid pace at the Big A. The Toddster has 23 wins from 52 starters on the inner track (44%), and 36 for 92 (39%) overall since racing switched from Belmont.
At Gulfstream, Bickersons (Silver Deputy) romped in the Forward Gal at 9-1, earning a Beyer of 97. She Be Wild was 5th at 7-5; at least I had that part right, as Sister Resistor, bet heavily to 7-2, far below where you would have expected based on the prices on her as the second leg of daily doubles, was a never-in-it 8th. Joanie's Catch, second in the Old Hat at 48-1, was second here at 51-1. What a race in the tenth as Busca ($12) survived a four-way blanket photo finish after being forced wide turning for home.