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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Harping on Things

An announced crowd of 2,940 at Belmont on Friday for the normal 1 PM post time. The usual dreary weekday afternoon with the crowd simply dwarfed by the enormity of the place - if I read that the crowd was 940 I would have believed it - and dulled by the heat of the mid-day summer sun. I guess Munick didn't get the memo on no twilight racing, because I heard him playing in the tent on the way out. Forget about comparing the handle vs last year, when it rained and the 9th race was canceled. Besides, and on the other hand, with only 54 horses competing in the nine races, there wasn't much being offered with which to generate much pari-mutuel enthusiasm. I don't like to harp on things y'know, but those are some reasons why I believe that one has to sometimes look beyond the bottom line (and I know that's difficult for NYRA at this stage). Isn't it worth something to have a little buzz and excitement in the place?

I dunno, I find this all pretty depressing. The pre-Saratoga doldrums seem to already have started. Just look at today's $300,000 guaranteed late pick four - two maiden claimers, the five-filly Mother Goose, and a state-bred entry level allowance. Oh man, is there any soccer today? Speaking of which, at one point I was walking around the back looking for simulcast tracks, and all I could find was some damn soccer game between Chile and Spain....another exciting high-scoring affair. I don't like to harp on things y'know, but, despite the excitement over the US World Cup team, and, as pointed out by several readers, the popularity of the sport as a game that kids like to play, I stand by my assertion that horse racing is a sport which is ingrained into American culture, while soccer, despite this once every four years anomaly (similar to hockey, though I don't want to harp on that), is simply not. And it never will be.

Anyway, no twilight racing, short fields, and just three more weekends of racing after this. I don't like to harp on things y'know, but you move racing up to Saratoga for seven summer weekends - consider that the last day at Belmont will be July 18, and it won't resume down here until September 10th....nearly two full months - and people will get used to doing other things with their time. Red Bulls, anyone?

- Governor Paterson has prepared his ultimate budget extender, containing the remaining cuts and tax/fee increases necessary to finally close the $9.2 billion budget gap. No soda tax, but a repeal of the current law which exempts the first $110 of a clothing purchase from the state sales tax. I don't want to....well, y'know, but that makes zero sense to me.

- Welcome home, Norberto.

Arroyo was supposed to receive a sentence of 2-1/2 years in prison for felony criminal possession of a controlled substance. He was stopped by Saratoga Springs police on Aug. 16, 2009 for not wearing a seatbelt, and officers noticed the drugs. Arroyo pleaded guilty in March and admitted he had about 12 grams stuffed in his sock. [Saratogian]
Let's see....12 grams of coke, and they're gonna throw this man into prison for 2 1/2 years. And that's with the reformed drug laws...

- Free music in Central Park on Wednesday night - two jazz veterans surrounding themselves with some immensely talented young studs. First it was the venerable and brilliant pianist McCoy Tyner, with Ravi Coltrane (sax), Francisco Mela (drums), and 25-year old Esperanza Spalding on bass (and her 2008 eponymous CD is amongst the Head Chef's current favorites).

(A far, far better view from a more professional taper here.)

Then, it was Stanley Clarke, and holy moley, Stanley Clarke? Being the one-time bass player for Chick Corea's Return To Forever, he's a name from way back in my progressive jazz phase some 30-35 years ago. But there he was, still plucking away, and in fine form. And with a rabid following too, though that may have been more for his piano player, Hiromi. Talk about mad skillz, man, this 31- year old Japanese lady has got them, wow!

(And yeah, the more professional taper was still there.)


SaratogaSpa said...

I respectfully disagree with your assertion that soccer is not ingrained in American Culture. I love horse racing, but lets be honest- Horse racing is the king of Sports for WHITE US citizens.

But our great country is made of black, yellow, brown and white people and many of them love soccer, especially the International game that the US is now solidly a part of. Ask any bar owner that shows International soccer games on his Bar TV's how well his business his, including in non World Cup years.

Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure I could get away with saying that. LOL.

Minister's Power and maybe the "other Baffert" for me today.


alan said...

SSpa - While your point about the cultural diversity of soccer's following, I respectfully submit that your observation on racing is based on the crowds at your home track. :-)

Plenty of ethnicity at the tracks down here....remember Moran's bad taste comment that Aqueduct reminded him of a third world bus station.

Teresa said...

SaratogaSpa: Go to Belmont or Aqueduct, or any of a number of other racetracks, and you'll see as diverse a crowd as you'll fine in any soccer-watching bar. Asian, African-American, Caribbean, Latinos from a handful of countries--in New York, it's only Saratoga that attracts a mostly white racing crowd. I wouldn't think it a stretch to say that racing is more popular with people of color than it is with whites.

Teresa said...

And in a curious 800-mile mind-meld, Alan and I have, and type, identical thoughts simultaneously.

SaratogaSpa said...

Alan-point most respectfully taken-Belmont and the Big A are much more diverse than the milky white spa.

Teresa- you said "I wouldn't think it a stretch to say that racing is more popular with people of color than it is with whites" --are you talking in the US or Worldwide?

I would not believe this would be true for the US only-if so, show me some stats-I knew I would get jumped for this so I might as well keep it going a bit :)

Teresa said...

SaratogaSpa, I am speaking of the US, and I can't offer you stats, any more than you did in your initial comment--you offered anecdotal evidence, based on your observations, which is what I did as well. Go to most racetracks -- not on a big race day. Or an off-track wagering facility. Or a backstretch. In my experience, the faces there are mostly not white.

SaratogaSpa said...

teresa-I was raised in the Bronx in a racially mixed neighborhood, so of course my local OTB reflected that diversity and now my local track up here reflects the non diversity of the Saratoga community-both regulars and visitors.

My main point was that International soccer is growing in the US.

But you do raise an interesting point on the regular daily fan base. Maybe marketing should be more focused in this area, trying to reach the true day in and day out fan base. Thanks again for your feedback.

El Angelo said...

It's not race, it's age. Go to any downstate track, and the overwhelming majority of the patrons are in their 50's and up; same for OTB's. Go to any bar showing the World Cup or showing soccer on a weekend, and there's nary a patron over 50.

Anonymous said...

"Other Baffert" wins by 10. The scratch of the favorite at post cost me 2k. And probably a lot more on my pick 3's and 4's.


Anonymous said...

I'm 52 and was in a bar watching the World Cup so there is at least one older than 50.

I was surrounded by a bunch of middle aged Irishmen rooting for the USA but inevitably for anyone playing the English.

Its not age, it exposure to the sport.

Young Americans (all ethnicities) have played the sport and therefore show more interest, but there are plenty of first and second generation immigrants, again of all races and ages, that love it too.

As someone pointed out, they dont watch second rate soccer like the MLS for the same reason most of us never bet on minor league racetracks.

As for racing, at every venue, on and off track, that I have attended non-whites outnumber the whites, excepting vacation spots like Saratoga and Monmouth.

If you took a worldwide poll asking "Do you consider yourself a horse racing fan" and broke the result out by race I suspect Asians would have the highest percentage answering yes, followed by Hispanics, with non Hispanic White and Black pulling up the rear.

IF my assumption is accurate, then racing might have a future in this country but they need to think out of the box and not just focus on the day to day bottom line as Alan is suggesting in his comments.

This sport seems to market with a short term focus instead of on long term development.

Anonymous said...

I just grabbed a form and you guys better make some money in the second from Hollywood Sunday. Same thing IMO.


Anonymous said...

Nevermind. Jockey change in the program is gonna kill the price.


These guys play games like you wouldn't believe.

El Angelo said...

It's tough to focus on the long-term when most tracks are putting out daily or weekly fires to stay afloat.

Figless said...

Crisis management, been there, done that, not fun.