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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

More Or Less

Three more weeks at Belmont, but NYRA was in full Saratoga mode on Monday, with its annual pre-meeting press conference upstate. There, Charlie Hayward talked up the expanded 40-day meeting...but the press seemed most interested in the giveaway days.

I also received a Saratoga Press Kit, where I learned that this is not the first time the meet has run for so many days; there were 40 days of racing in 1882. That worked so well that it hasn't been tried for another 128 years! I also learned here about the shortest meet - the very first one.

In 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, Saratoga Race Course opened for the first time. The meet lasted just four days, but a tradition was born that continues today. [NYRA Press Release]
However, the New York Times reported at the time:
The visitors to Saratoga will have a rich treat, and, to the great credit of Mr. JOHN MORRISSEY, the proprietor, gambling will not be permitted inside the Course.
Oh. That's not a tradition that I'm aware of. And wait a minute, didn't they name a race after that guy?? Here's a report from the Aug 5, 1863 edition of the Times:
The third day's races went off as usual, although a tremendous shower came up after the first race began.
Well, some things never change it seems. I think back to NYRA's logic about the twilight racing ...the idea of putting all the marketing resources behind a single big event......and wonder how big they could make a four day meeting at Saratoga!

The contrast between Saratoga and Monmouth will be on stark display throughout the competing race meetings. Monmouth will remain on its three-day a week schedule, while NYRA goes to six, a number which is seemingly as anachronistic as big crowds at Belmont these days. I've been slow to warm to the Monmouth model, a concept which was more born out of desperation than some innovative new idea.

But, you look at the enthusiasm there thus far, as well as the Friday night programs at Churchill Downs; and a marriage of the two - a Friday night, Saturday and Sunday schedule - seems to make a lot of sense for a lot of circumstances (though probably never for a destination meeting like Saratoga) (and, as this reader pointed out previously). Just go to Belmont on any weekday, and you'll see what I mean.

- No budget as of yet, but no government (nor track) shutdown. Put on the defensive for weeks by Governor Paterson's tactic of including budget items in emergency appropriation bills and thus daring the lawmakers to shut the government down, the legislators dusted off the rulebook and came up with a response: They simply refused to physically accept the bills. Simply brilliant, and brilliantly simple enough for even these fools to think of it.
“Article VII section 3 of the New York State Constitution empowers the Governor to submit bills amending portions of the budget bills within 30 days after his budget is submitted. Thereafter, the Legislature is empowered to consent or not consent to the receipt of any bill from the Governor which would amend any portion of his budget submission in any manner. We have not acceded to the receipt of any such bills today.” [Capitol Confidential]
In the world of Albany, as long as the bills are not actually voted down, the government continues to operate. So, there you go. The Senate and Assembly actually agreed amongst themselves on an appropriations bill, one which restores cuts to education and healthcare. Of course, it doesn't answer the question of where the money will come from (though their elimination of a property tax cap might give you a clue). So, the governor whipped out his veto stamp and got started by nixing $419 million in restored education aid. He'll be busy on Tuesday - he's legally required to physically stamp and initial each of the 6,900 appropriations inserted by the legislature over his objection.
Paterson joked on the vetoes: “There about 6,900 of them so if I start now, I figure I should be finished before I leave office.” [Daily Politics]
C'mon, aren't you gonna miss this guy? I'm starting to tear up already over Cuomo, I just don't see him being any fun at all. Casey Seiler of Capitol Confidential figures he can do it in six hours without any bathroom breaks, but we'll see about that.

- Last summer, I saw, for the first time, Toronto's hardcore heroes Fucked Up, opening for Mission of Burma at the East River State Park in Williamsburg. I posted about it, included a video, and a reader wrote:
Fat slob singing incoherently.

I stopped listening to that crap in high school.

What's going on with you man!
I was so chastened by that remark that on Saturday night, I saw them for the 4th time, at a free show in a playground in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (with High Places and Liars). Fucked Up plays high-tempo, highly articulate punk rock with a lusciously layered three-guitar attack and a fabulous rhythm section (including a rocking chick bass player). And they put on a great live show (which actually sounded far better than on this amateurish video shot by yours truly). They rock, that's what's up with me man. So, what crap are you listening to these days?

(Official song video here.)


Anonymous said...

Looks like a Freddie Mercury wannabe.

steve in nc said...

More like a Haystacks Calhoun wannabee.

I'm just glad he hiked up his shorts instead of taking them the other way.

El Angelo said...

Punk is not for everyone, plain and simple.

ljk said...

Morrissey was quite a character, a boxing champion, Tammany Hall backed Congressman from NY, and founder of the Saratoga Association, though William Travers was named President due to Morrisey's reputation.

Originally betting was relegated to the hotels and casinos. The people of Saratoga weren't allowed in either.

Good book : They're Off!: Horse Racing at Saratoga by Edward Hotaling

alan said...

>>I'm just glad he hiked up his shorts instead of taking them the other way.

That was early in the show.

Anonymous said...

It is those colorful stories from Saratoga's early days that continue to fascinate, attract new comers, and bring back many year after year to the Spa. Swashbuckling entrepreneurs, Wall St financiers, bucket shop operators and gambler-gentleman-patron of the arts Richard Canfield are what made the place and it's ever lasting legends.

A stroll around Congress Park and tour of Canfield's Casino will soon show the visitor that Canfield's legacy was much more than gambling. Saratoga is a fascinating study in the social history of NY and Eastern America as the region grew into an Industrial Collossus.

Saratoga in August is much more than racing, it is American history on display, starting with the Battlefield nearby where the heretofore undefeated Brits were defeated in battle by the upstart Patriots. But Saratoga's golden age came in the post- Civil War era when NY became the Empire State. Great stuff, a facinating, living experience in American history.

LJK- how does the Hotaling book compare to Saratoga: Saga Of An Impious Era? Does it include the social history? /S/greenmtnpunter