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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Third Time A Charm

Finally everything came together for NYRA on the third and final Friday twilight card - great weather and a featured band that actually showed up. Drew a crowd of 8,204 which seemed much larger than that in the festive backyard area. Long betting lines there, but post times were properly delayed and I didn't notice anyone getting shut out; so good job there. Why leave any money on the table, and besides, nothing angers horseplayers more than being denied the chance to piss their money away.

Attendance would have been 8,205, except that the Head Chef bailed on me in order to go to....a pottery class! Seriously!? It's 5-to-4 that she won't be hearing the end of that for awhile!

Pretty tough racing day for the bettors (as in, me), though a couple of chalk results were thrown in to hopefully make more people happy. Finale ($5.20) took the 6th for Pletcher, bet down to favoritism in his first try on the grass (and like to see these grass sprints for two-year olds). This colt is from the first crop by Scat Daddy, who, as you may recall, won the Champagne, Fountain of Youth, and Florida Derby for the Toddster before being retired due to a "slight tendon injury" suffered in the Derby. So we all sure hope he's paying off for his owners at stud now, right? He stands for $10,000 at Ashford, and has four winners, good enough to place him second on the rookie sire earnings list at this very early stage. (And his late surge to beat Teufelsberg in the Sanford still sticks in my craw, some five years (!!) later. Always good for a horseplayer to let things linger like that.)

It was a great day indeed, even as I came away with nothing as far as wagering goes. That was despite the fact that I did very much like the overlaid winner of the 8th, Coax Liberty ($11.80). I managed to come away with nothing due to a series of poor decisions on pick threes and late doubles. Nice three-year old daughter of Successful Appeal, out of Chelsie's House, a stakes winning daughter of Housebuster (no mystery why this filly likes seven furlongs), wore down favored Savvy Supreme under a perfectly timed ride by Ramon.

I was alive in the late double anyway, and Big Shot had already started to perform as the final race went off. I am not at all a Billy Joel fan, a fact which I think I've mentioned here before. I'm also, admittedly and regretfully, a total snob when it comes to musical tastes. Earlier in the day, I was talking to a couple of people, and when they asked me if I was sticking around for the band, I was like "Er, I..don'" in a rather catty tone and then felt bad when I realized that they were excited for the band. I really need to get better with that! Having said that though (here it comes), it was a rather bleak end to the day watching my late doubles go down the drain while having to listen to the morbid strains of New York State of Mind. But I guess it served me right.

- Well, I know a lot of people who laugh at my taste in music ("and at your age??"), especially this time of year when I'm running around to all the free music going on around the city. The last couple of weeks have been particularly busy, with the emphasis on women performers....and four extremely talented (and extremely variously so), and wild and/or wacky ones in the last week or so to be sure. (That doesn't even include Laurie Anderson, who I don't think quite qualifies as either wild or wacky, but who I saw play with Bill Laswell at historic Castle Clinton in Battery Park a few weeks ago.)

A week ago Thursday, Shara Worden, who performs as My Brightest Diamond, played at the same Castle Clinton. My Brightest Diamond has morphed into various incarnations over the years; currently, Shara is performing with Y Music, a delightful string and brass sextet, and they have an album due out this fall. Here's a sample from the show (recorded unprofessionally and against house rules by yours truly).

Last Saturday, New Brunswick, New Jersey's Screaming Females played at the South Street Seaport, my favorite venue for free outdoor music around here. (Unfortunately, the schedule there is an abbreviated one this year, no doubt due to various financial shortcomings during these uncertain times. If it was up to Republicans, there would be absolutely no public money allotted for such cultural events that are the heartbeat of many cities and communities.) There is actually only one screaming female in the trio; and that would be Marissa Paternoster. From her diminutive stature, a reader of this blog might find her more likely to be riding horses than shredding guitar solos, but that is surely not the case.

Screaming Females' album, Castle Talk, was amongst my favorites of 2010; it's available on Don Giovanni Records.

This past Thursday, back to Castle Clinton, and singer/songwriter, poet, award-winning author, and, now, actor Patti Smith needs no introduction to be sure. She played with her band before an overflow crowd....literally. (And, like all of these shows, for free.) Those who couldn't get in listened from outside, and it was funny to hear the roar emanate from around the circular venue when Patti acknowledged them during the show. It was a real treat to be sure, so much so that I could only bother to record about 25 seconds of it.

And from there, we hopped a cab and zipped up the west side to Pier 54, on the Hudson River around 14th Street, and caught the last few songs by Merrill Garbus, who performs as tUnE-yArDs. Her recently released whokill (4ad) is surely one of the best albums of this year, and a lock for a slot in my year-end top ten list. Hard to describe her music, which is full of African polyrhythms, frenetic ukulele riffs, and vocals with a range and passion that you have to hear to believe. This is the video for Bizness, the first single from the album.

(By the way, the pier was packed for this show; reportedly over 4500 in attendance; not much compared to McCartney at Yankee Stadium of course, but a big number for an independent artist of her stature. I think it was Figless who once jokingly suggested that I book indie bands for the Belmont Party in the Park, and it would certainly draw a different crowd, and a young one to be sure. Not to mention one that actually plays good - and original - music [ARGH, there I go again!!!])

The night was capped off literally with a bang - a totally unexpected (to us, anyway) and awesomely glorious fireworks display over the river, that started during tUnE-yArDs' final song and ran on for a good 25 minutes afterwards. A Bastille Day celebration perhaps? Whatever the reason, it was a fitting and climactic end to one of those magical nights that one can only experience in New York City.


Figless said...

I was not joking :)

This is a great idea and it doesnt have to be only for Party in the Park 3pm post, plenty of sunshine in the summer months for after race concerts, the place is open for simulcasting anyway and the bands would play for free I am certain. There were plenty of folks just hangin' around the backyard after racing ended last night, enjoying the weather and their coolers barely paying attention to the music.

The Belmont backyard is a great under utilized green space.

djr2000 said...

your taste in music is about as bad as your selection process but I get a kick out of your blog. speaking of near misses I just missed the Pick 6 at Hollywood yesterday for $15K when my choice finished 2nd. Lucky I got conso P6 for $600.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see some india bands too, but judging by the music on the track feed, no songs released after 1980 are allowed to be played at NYRA tracks.

alan said...

Anon 1.08 - Ha ha, good point! Surprised they don't limit themselves to music in the public domain so they don't have to pay royalties! (Hmmm...wonder if they pay them anyway....hope no one from BMI or ASCAP is reading.)

djr2000 - LOL, er, thanks, I think! :) Nice pick-six picking, hope you get the big prize next time.

SaratogaSpa said...

You said: "it was a fitting and climactic end to one of those magical nights that one can only experience in New York City"

Best line of the post, and oh how true!