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Sunday, August 28, 2005

A Perfect Day

- Back in New York, and it was a particularly long trip home knowing that it’s quite possible I won’t return until next summer. I've been quite fortunate to have been able to spend more time there this year than ever before, incredibly fortunate. “You’re at Saratoga AGAIN?” my parents and siblings wonder. “Aren’t you sick of it?” There are days I do feel burned and think, well, that’s enough. But it only takes literally a few hours before I’m feeling fresh and ready to return. Besides, when I get out of the city and travel to towns like Saratoga, I just love the way people are so civil to each other compared to back home. If there was a subway in Saratoga, every woman or person over 45 would be guaranteed a seat, and people would clear out a whole area for a pregnant woman to lie down and offer her their purses or backpacks as a pillow.

Yesterday, some 42,000 people turned out for Travers Day. That was less than the 50,000 NYRA had expected (hoped for), and 6,000 less than last year. Many, if not most of them, had been there since the morning hours. It seemed crowded but it was manageable. NYRA’s Bill Nader, seeking the bright side to the disappointing attendance, said . 'It's less people, but in terms of customer satisfaction, the crowd was very comfortable. It was a perfect day.' [Saratogian] It was so perfect that come 7:15, with the 12th and final race run and the early darkness that signals the coming end to the season having already started to take hold, it seemed people were starting to filter out only reluctantly. (I had just hit the 12th race triple, so I was checking out the upcoming races from Del Mar.)

I looked around at the lingering crowd, some of whom were possibly approaching 12 hours there, and marveled at just how happy everyone looked. Not just happy; the expressions were those of people who were totally and utterly satisfied, as if the long day had fully met if not exceeded their most optimistic expectations. And then, I considered the fact that 95% of these people had probably lost money. Over 42,000 people had gathered together on a hot day in a slightly too-small enclosed space. Many of them drank alcohol throughout the day (and morning!), all of them were competing against each other for money, most of them were unsuccessful, yet there wasn’t a cross word or angry stare to be seen all day. And come the end of the long day, nobody wanted to leave. Least of all yours truly. Amazing.

Well, my office is closed this week, and we won’t have any kids after Tuesday....

Again? Aren’t I sick of it?