It was just a week or so short of a year ago that we were in Solana Beach, CA, just down the road from Del Mar; and when we (or just I) weren't at the track, we might very well have been watching the omnipresent surfers out in the Pacific.
Well, on Monday evening, we were watching surfers again.
No, we're unfortunately not at Del Mar, which opens on Wednesday (thus leaving just two short days for those people I know who used to be able to catch five or even six days there and be back in time for Saratoga). But rather, we were at Rockaway Beach in Queens. So instead of looking back from the ocean, and seeing this...
we were seeing this.
It's sometimes said about us New Yorkers that we can live here all our lives and be totally oblivious to anything even just slightly off the well-beaten paths. Who knew that just a short drive down to Woodhaven Blvd., a left turn, and a straight shot 20-25 minutes down the road lands one at the Atlantic Ocean! (I generally don't make it past Rockaway Boulevard, where one hangs a left to get to the Big A.)
And in a way, a beach is a beach no matter where you are; they each have some common elements of beauty.
(Though not all of them have nearly this much trash strewn about.)
Another big difference here from Solana Beach is that there's no racing nearby....not even close. 3 hours and 42 minutes to Saratoga, according to Google Maps. Not for the next seven weekends anyway. No thoroughbred racing in the New York Metropolitan area for eight weeks in the summer, hard to believe! And just one short weekend up there presently on the schedule for us at this time.
Del Mar is sticking with the shorter five-day-a week schedule that it cut back to last year....but the outlook for the meet is questionable at this point.
Available horse inventory in Southern California is down more than 25 percent, from 3,800 horses a year ago to 2,800.It's the 4th year of Polytrack at Del Mar, and it's obviously not encouraging that horsemen still have this kind of doubt (though this article is deficient in that Brad Free doesn't go on to tell us what exactly they are waiting to see. Safety? Or whether the track suits their horses' running styles?)
Not long ago, most horsemen wanted to be at Del Mar. This year, [Racing director Tom] Robbins said the stables are "not as filled up as we have been in the past." Del Mar historically has 2,200 horses on the grounds. This year there will be an estimated 1,900.
Some horsemen are remaining at Hollywood Park and monitoring the Polytrack surface at Del Mar before committing to a start. "They are waiting to see," Robbins said. [Daily Racing Form]
In any event, I really do miss not going there this year. Saratoga is still Saratoga, but the quality of the racing there as compared to Del Mar, the horse population at the latter notwithstanding, no longer compensates for the far superior weather and the spectacular beaches as far as I'm concerned.