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Monday, April 02, 2007

Big A a Bit Brighter

The Big A seemed just a tad brighter on Saturday, and not just because of the sunny skies and the resumption of racing on the main track coming on Wednesday. The giveback of 1,500
previously, and needlessly shuttered parking

spots could be seen as a sign of thawing relations between NYRA and the state. The flea market is back (though not on Wood Memorial day). Next week brings the latest presentations of the franchise bidders - whichever are still standing by then - and an April 11 court date at which NYRA could finally get the go-ahead on the racino. Things are going to get better no matter who gets the franchise, right? I mean, with slots, even Frank Stronach could...well, I'm sure any of the bidders can handle it.

There was even something new in the Big A clubhouse, the first capital improvement of any kind there this century for sure. There were some large new TV screens embedded in a wall underneath the escalator to the second floor. Gone, and leaving its mark in indelible rust on the floor, was a sextagonal (or so) booth with small TV's on each side, screens that no one beyond the heads in the front row could see. At one time, the structure was the first-ever video replay booth. If you wanted to see a past race (NYRA races only), you would fill out a slip, and give it to the attendant. That person would pull out a VCR tape with the requested days' races, stick it in a VCR, and fast forward to the race in question. The handicapper would proceed to his/he assigned monitor to watch the race.

Thinking about that on Saturday, it reminded me of the Flintstones, with the little worker animals inside the machinery of the era, like the bird who carved photos inside the cameras. And this wasn't that long ago at all, in the scheme of things, really.

I was hanging on the clubhouse apron and noticed this guy approaching, and you have to be very careful with eye contact in selected areas of the track, such as the one I was in. Some folks at the races can take that for an invitation to ask you who you like, tell you which piece of crap jockey cost him the last race, or lament almost having the triple because he ran 4th, 5th, and 6th. But this guy came right on in, without even a non-invitation on my part, and proceeded to tell me his tragic life story. And man, it was really, really horrible, I don't even want to go into the details, except that I really needed to go and bet the 9th at Gulfstream. So I had to take my leave, but not before he told me this fascinating fact: Mike Luzzi wins 57% of the time in the 6th and 7th races. In fact, Luzzi had just won the 7th, but the guy didn't have him, and I wasn't sticking around to find out why not.

I left the danger zone and retreated to the safety of the Equestris level, where I proceeded to watch Todd Pletcher win four graded stakes at three different tracks within the space of 75 minutes (and this shortly after he'd won the Grade 3 Orchid with Safari Queen under a cool ride by Chris DeCarlo). First, at 4:20, Indian Vale, who hadn't raced since last May, won the Grade 3 Next Move at the track (with Mike Luzzi aboard). It was just her second start since Nov, 2005, but she won by five at 1-2.

At 4:57, AP Arrow, also 1-2 after the scratches of Welcome Again and Dry Martini, had to go to the mat to hold off 16-1 Rehoboth and take the G3 Skip Away at Gulfstream. At 5:06, Richard Migliore took the lead on Fairbanks and never looked back, giving the $1.85 million son of Giant's Causeway his first stakes win, in the G3 Tokyo City at Santa Anita. And then, at 5:31, Scat Daddy won the $1 million Florida Derby. Not a bad day despite the shutout in Dubai, and I'm sure it paid for the trip. (Though the second place money for Friendly Island is no chump change for sure.)


Jim L said...

Hey Alan,

Keeneland has revamped their Web site! Looks like they will offer video with the Windows Media Player now. It is still hands down the BEST race meet Web site going.

Harl said...

I agree with the comments about Keeneland's Web site. I would rank Del Mar up there, as well.

I'm heading to Keeneland either for the Bluegrass on the 14th or the Lexington on the 21st. It's my first trip there since Polytrack and all the enhancements, so I'm really looking forward to it especially after I missed the fall meet last year.