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Thursday, September 01, 2011

Lights Still Shining at One OTB

That's the old OTB parlor on Queens Blvd in Forest Hills. It was reported the other day in the Times that "very few" of the shuttered parlors have been rented to new tenants. This one is not one of them. And somebody forgot to turn the lights out.

The Times piece paints an appropriately bleak picture of the former clientele of the former parlors. One restaurant owner recalled:

They littered on the sidewalk, called out rudely to women, demanded free water and sometimes solicited money from his customers. [NY Times[
One time, I was standing outside the Forest Hills parlor, and a guy, having spotted me eating a Hersheys Dark Chocolate Bar from inside, came out to ask me for a bite. "Bitch!" he spat angrily when I refused. I think that's the most vivid memory I have of that place (other than perhaps cashing my $20 win ticket on Lil E. Tee, who paid, if I recall correctly, $98.60 to win in New York, only $16.80 at Churchill).

I saw where Jessica got quoted from one of her Railbird blog posts in the Times article:
On particularly unhappy days, I’d slip into a parlor downtown, and enjoy the anonymous companionship of others staring intently at programs and talking horses and hoping for that one big win. [Railbird]
But I dunno about the romantic angle in this case. It was just plain sleazy to me. Maybe Jessica found an outlier parlor that was actually decent, or maybe she cheated and really went to one of the nice restaurant ones, or to Nassau. Everyone has their own way of finding some peace and solace in a sometimes impossible and impossibly perilous world. But if I was depressed enough to hang out in OTB, at least the one on Queens Blvs in Forest Hills, they'd be fishing me out of the Hudson River somewhere with a bag containing all of my losing tickets for the last 18 months tied around my neck.

Speaking of being depressed, it's Labor Day weekend, which I think is up there for biggest holidays for suicides. But please don't despair - plenty of racing though to pass the time and, as I'm sure I've said many times before, Labor Day is one of my favorite weekends at Saratoga. Smaller crowds, more races, more horses as connections try to get in one last race. And the Final Stretch Music Festival on Saturday and Sunday night, which you just gotta check out if you're in town.

Having said that, we're off to Solana Beach, just north of Del Mar, CA. Will check in from there if I have the time during what will be a condensed schedule. And please check out my Twitter stream if you have the chance. I did some live-Twittering from Saratoga a couple of weekends ago; it was fun, and didn't contribute to me doing any worse than I usually do. It's not totally a track vacation, but I'm sure I'll have plenty of opportunities to make a fool of myself at the races, especially on Friday and Saturday. In any event, best of luck, be safe, and have a great weekend.


wmcorrow said...

I'm sure that if casinos and racetracks didn't have a security presence (men/women in uniform) they would soon be labeled sleazy.

A uniform at an OTB would have eliminated the sleazy connotation.

OTB's have incurred a bad reputation because money was not spent on security and maintenance; we all know where it went.

Figless said...

valid point, any storefront in the city, if not secured, would soon be overun.

And the bigget OTB in my hood remains vacant also, for the record, with a "for rent" sign on the front door.

Anonymous said...

I loved those OTBs. The scum element was astronomical. Alan, you're memory regarding Lil E Tee is slightly fuzzy. I believe he was 17-1 at Churchill. -jp

Anonymous said...

Man, did you hear Durkin deadpan "the filly did it" at the end of the Woodward? I think he realized just how crappy the older male handicap division is and it put her accomplishment in perspective. Though HDG is a very nice filly. I wonder if she'll go to the classic. The owners of Blind Luck have to be targeting the classic. She's one of the few horses in the country that can get 10f. Did you see the Personal Ensign? Ech. -jp

Figless said...

jp - Either HDG or Blind Luck would have won the P Ensign for fun, you are correct, BL should be aimed at the Classic.

Wouldnt surprise me if no older male finishes in the Superfecta in the Classic.

DiscreetPicks said...

Del Mar - Race 6

#2 Lanida (5/2 ml)

I was extremely impressed by this filly in her debut, and i firmly believe she would've won that day if not for some bonehead decision-making by the rider (in a related matter, note the switch to Talamo today). Here's what i wrote about her after the race in my horses to watch notes:

3yo firster for Puype broke a tad awkwardly and then was immediately wrangled back to last by the rider (Quinonez), dropping some 10 lengths behind the early pace down the backstretch. Despite this, Quinonez remained still in the saddle, refusing to ask for any run until they approached the turn. Once asked, Lanida took off very strongly, looping around the field on the turn while of course giving up even more ground in the process. Leveled off beautifully into stretch and was coming very strongly, reaching out with big, powerful strides down the lane. Just had too much to do to catch the winner, but did end up second after the strong rally. Worth noting here that Puype is very strong with second-time starters, and there's no doubt in my mind that Lanida was much the best here. Figure to improve second time out for Puype (especially with a better ride), and should be very tough to handle next time out.

Here's a replay of the race in question, so you can make up your own mind. Lanida is the #7 horse:

steve in nc said...

DP, $4 ain't much, but a winner's a winner.

Alan, you sure picked the right time to head west. Saratoga ended with a splat, and I'm left with a feeling like that OTB photo, after having given back my earlier-meet winnings.

I need a freshening and I'm taking a break from handicapping til BC time. Those fields of 7 NY Breds sprinting on turf (or rained off the turf) at Belmont will have to limp along without me.