After sitting out the Preakness, the Toddster plans to return to the Triple Crown series (do we still call it that even though there won't be a Triple Crown winner?) with up to five entrants, all of whom worked out on Monday.
“I thought everyone worked very well.....I think Palace Malice worked unbelievably well. To me, it was a monstrous gallop out." [NYRA Press Office]Oh, man. Here we go. His prior work was a half mile breeze in 47 2/5, second fastest of 35 works. It's hard to evaluate this colt off his last three starts. In the Louisiana Derby, in which I loved him, he was hopelessly boxed, stymied 5/16 to 1/8 according to the chart. Two weeks later, in the Blue Grass, he ran great, though on synth, but ran second after showing greenness in the stretch. That led to the blinkers that sent him giddily to the lead in suicidal fractions in the Derby before fading to 12th (though only a length and a half plus three heads behind Oxbow, who chased him). Now he's had two very impressive works. I keep going back to that Blue Grass - I was really surprised by how well he ran on a new surface, one that I don't believe will ever be his best game. I didn't bet him in the Blue Grass, and wouldn't have been that upset if he won at 9-2; thought he was way overbet first time synth off two weeks rest. But I would surely be upset if he won the Belmont at 10-1 and I didn't have him. There's some price out there that I'm absolutely locked in to him.
- NYRA will conduct a Belmont Stakes fan festival at Grand Central Terminal on the Friday before the race, with some fun activities.
Stakes Stampede, where fans propel a horse displayed on a screen to the finish line by running in place.If only that would work in real life, we'd all be in fantastic shape.
Mini Belmont Races, complete with a bugler and professional race caller Larry Lederman, in which fans can jump on one of three mechanical ponies and head around the racetrack to the finish line.Ah, Larry Lederman, great to hear his name, and hope he is doing OK these days. We could surely use more guys like him to bring some color, character, and humor into the race calls.
- Wanted to clarify a couple of things about the Belmont Stakes security rules (the ones for fans attending the races that day, that is). First of all....and I've been meaning to write this.....I'd written previously that the measures go well beyond anything I've personally ever seen for a sporting event. And, upon further reflection, that's not really true at all. They are so unlike anything we've ever seen around here at a racetrack that I lost context. Fans are wanded and/or patted down at NFL games, and the practice was instituted late in the hockey season at the Garden following the Boston attack. (And I believe they've been in place at Knicks games for longer than that). Can't bring items such as umbrellas or backpacks into football games either; nor bags of food - I have to take the items out of the bag and bring them in individually (though not in plastic bags of a certain size). (I've always thought that binoculars could be used at least as easily as a weapon than umbrellas....but what do I know?)
Secondly, a reader downplays the potential snags, noting that "they had very similar security at Pimlico, where there are less, and smaller, entrance areas, and it was pretty easy getting in." And I have no doubt that, should there be proper planning and sufficient personnel, then it could be fine. It's relatively quick and easy to get into Jets games these days.....but it took time, experience, and, most crucially, a lot of personnel to make that happen. NYRA doesn't have that experience, and I find it a little scary that their first go at this will be on this particular day. The press release notes that the restrictions were developed "in concert with.....racing and security officials in Kentucky and Maryland." Hopefully, those officials will be able to successfully impart their experience to NYRA.
And just want to be clear too that I'm not suggesting that you don't go to the track that day (though I wouldn't mind the extra real estate!). With a little weather luck, still promises to be a great day. The Belmont Stakes is shaping up to be one of the more interesting ones we've have in awhile; and I know that most of you guys love the plethora of Grade 1 stakes (though I'd be thrilled with the Belmont Stakes + 11 or 12 full-field conditional claimers). But one has to be smart - arrive early or late, read the rules, be respectful of the folks doing their difficult jobs, and don't be an asshole. If you pull into the lots at 12:30, don't expect to get down on the race going off at 1PM. If everybody - fans and NYRA - do their part, it could be smooth(ish) sailing.