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Sunday, July 03, 2011

Getting Worse

Things actually got a whole lot worse after I posted from the airport in Tampa on Tuesday. They rushed us onto the plane because, we were told, the weather was "deteriorating" in New York and we had to leave at 8:30. I think the Jet Blue pilot just wanted to get home, as that turned out to be BS, as you'll see. Already over an hour late, we zipped out to the runway, #1 for takeoff......and proceeded to sit on the runway for almost two hours. A vague explanation about JFK not accepting anymore incoming traffic. Meanwhile, the Head Chef was feeling queasy, and I soon noticed that she had quietly removed her air sickness bag. I'll spare you the details, but my poor honey went through all three bags in our row, and two plastic garbage bags to boot. (A plate of ceviche consumed some 30 hours earlier was the main suspect.)

Finally took off, but initially flew 300 miles due east for a clear path up the coast, adding another 30-40 minutes to an already nightmare travel experience. It was 1 AM when we finally got off the plane. The final indignity was that we had to carry the Head Chef's mess off the plane ourselves since the stewardess wouldn't take it (in fact, she flat out lied to us, said she'd come back with a separate container for it, and then we never saw her again!).

And yet ahead was the scariest part of the whole ordeal - the taxi ride home in a driving rainstorm on the Van Wyck Expressway, egads!

- Another thing that has gotten worse since I last posted on the subject is the state of health of this year's three-year old crop. Since that time, Dialed In went to the sidelines with a knee chip and, worst of all, the great Animal Kingdom himself was declared out for the year due to the injury which was previously said to be a minor one. He'll possibly be pointed to the Dubai World Cup, which always does a lot for the interest level in American racing.

These latest additions to the injury list from the decimated crop brings me back yet again to Joe Drape's article in the June 9 edition of the NY Times, in which he theorized, with the scant evidence of the results of this year's Derby and Preakness, that these horses were slower and, thus, sounder due to the absence of steroids. I hate to harp on things....OK, maybe that's not true. But this article was, in my view, a landmark in shoddy journalism and therefore fair game for continued criticism as real world events serve to dispute the novel theories that it espoused. I think it was more its placement on the front page of the paper than the article itself which makes it so heinous. Would have been fine as an opinion column or a post on a blog like this one that hardly anyone reads.

But a front page story in the Paper of Record gives an article credibility that warrants more than sheer speculation lacking a solid base of factual support. And, at this point, given what has happened to the top horses in this three-year old crop, I believe I'd be on equally sound footing to theorize that the banning of steroids is causing thoroughbreds to be less sound.

Not to mention slow. In fact, the whole idea of 'slower and sounder' is rather counter-intuitive to me. I've always figured that slow horses are less sound. I mean, that's why they are slow, no? They're bred to be fast, so if they are bred from fast horses - as most thoroughbreds are - and they are slow, then isn't something wrong? It's not like horses have always been on steroids, and history is filled with many horses who were very fast and very sound before that era. Of course, it's entirely possible that they were juiced up on something else - given the history of human behavior over the centuries, there's little reason to believe that the trainers of the 40s or 50s were any more or less honest or ethical than they are today. However, that was also before the era that seemingly nearly every horse around became inbred to Northern Dancer or Mr. Prospector or both - two horses who managed only 32 starts between them - or descended from some other unsound offspring of those two. So it seems to me that the state of the breed today is rooted in the very basics of breeding, and can hardly be explained as succinctly - or as in accordance with the agenda of the writer - as purported on the front page of the NY Times a few weeks ago.

- The first of three Friday twilight cards at Belmont drew a crowd of 6,205. That's gotta be a bit of a disappointment I would think, coming on a beautiful Friday before a holiday weekend. Then again, it being the holiday may not have helped - seems pretty empty in and around the city this weekend. Not to mention the last minute cancellation by the Lou Gramm Band. I'm sure that must have left a lot of people, well.....

- Maybe we'll have better luck with the second wave of three-year olds we see emerge around this time. Dominus was pretty impressive dominating the Dwyer on Saturday, earning a Beyer of 98 which immediately vaults him to amongst the top of the entire class - active, disabled, or retired. He's a son of Smart Strike out of Cuando, a stakes-winning Lord at War mare who excelled on grass and who is a half-sister to the excellent turf mare Honey Ryder; making Dominus another candidate for cross-surfacing.

- OK, sorry about that Foreigner video, feel as if I should compensate for that. Before going to Florida, I saw Dinosaur Jr perform their classic Bug LP in its entirety at Terminal 5, preceded by Off! (featuring ex-Black Flag/Circle Jerks Keith Morris) and Fucked Up; an amazing show all around, yeah! Great to hear the 'deep tracks' from Bug that I've never heard them play live before. Like 'They Always Come.'


steve in nc said...

Oh man, that (the travel experience) sounds horrible. I think our drive yesterday from da Bronx to NC went more quickly (and the rice, beans, pollo and tostones were good and stayed down!).

The Drape steriod argument is so laughable. He and the sports editor should be shipped off to Fox for crap like that.

Steriods are understood to have increased slugging in baseball and kept a whole posse of aging stars not only on the field and performing better than in their youth. But they cause young horses to break down??? You should not only keep harping, but write a "back pages" piece about the issues facing racing.

Anonymous said...


Why do you continually fly Jet Blue? Their "track record" is terrible.

You can get Southwest out of Islip or Newark. The airline is top rated.

Hope the Head Chef is feeling better.

Jim F

Anonymous said...

Roger Clemens might serve more time than Casey Anthony....


Anonymous said...

Sounds like you had a major barforama on your hands, Alan. Hope you guys are fully recovered. Ceviche is always dicey because they try to cover up subpar fish with citrus. Oh well. -jp