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Monday, July 30, 2007

Del Mar

This is the view from the balcony off our bedroom. The Head Chef gets full credit for finding this place, and booking us early enough to get the room with a view.

Nice to have a little beach in one's backyard. Why do I live in Queens again, I forgot?

The view from the beach....that's where we're staying. Up there. Nice exercise getting back up there.

All right, all right....I guess you wanna see the track, right?

These shots are all in the paddock/walking ring area, and to me, that's the center of the universe at Del Mar, and from where the intimacy and electricity of the place emanate. It's just unspeakably gorgeous back there, and everything and everyone seems to gaze down upon it; if not from the area immediately circling the paddock, then from the patio restaurants and the balconies overlooking it.

Here's the Head Chef with our two girls. [I think the Head Chef went on my laptop and deleted this photo!] You can see what a great time our teenagers were having. Saratoga or Belmont this is not. Other than the infield, where there is no shade from what I can see, Del Mar is not a picnic in the park. It's pretty hardcore racing, as the Head Chef correctly observed, and, as opposed to the clueless crowds partying in the Saratoga backyard, most everyone is paying attention. So the girls didn't quite know what to make of it. I didn't have any particular problem as you might imagine. If I'm lucky, they won't want to come with us again; or at least they will with a more enlightened attitude next time!

My betting has not gone well thus far, with two days in the can. On Saturday, I have an excuse. I was literally in la-la land, overwhelmed by the beauty and splendor of the place. And besides, I was in full exploration mode. The place has a lot of depth - many different eating and drinking establishments, some great little nooks and crannies overlooking the paddock area to discover. And of course, I had to explore and assess the varying betting areas, to find the ones with the shortest lines. I found that lines were actually an issue here, at least on Saturday and Sunday. But by the end of the day Saturday, I pretty much had the place mastered. After a while, one finds that all tracks have the same basic characteristics, and I was able to navigate my way around largely by sheer instinct.

Sunday was a frustrating day, in which I lost an agonizing photo in the 4th when Legate nosed 6-1 Senior in the final half-stride; saw 7-1 Masterful Miss unable to handle 16-1 Izarra, trained by Ron McAnally, who I thought never wins with first-timers; and then actually came up with In Summation in the Bing Crosby just by eliminating every other entry; but I wimped out and passed the race. And I was just telling someone the other day how much I love Christophe Clement! Afterwards, while complaining a bit about my hard luck to the Head Chef, she reminded me: "You're just not that good of a bettor. You don't win that much."

Oh. Yeah, that's right; thanks for reminding me. Sometimes I forget that amidst stuff like being allowed by the Clancy brothers to handicap for the Special, and from the miniature fame and occasional benefits accorded to a blogger (such as the clubhouse passes that the folks at Del Mar were nice enough to set me up with).

But today, Monday, is another day. No the races are not nearly of the quality I saw this weekend; and I have to say that with all I've heard about how Del Mar is 'no Saratoga' racing-wise, the weekend cards were chock full of excellent betting races and great fields. But maybe some maiden claimers and Cal-bred races is just what I need.

One more thing before I get to my handicapping. The weather. Oh my! We have no air conditioning in our condo, and it's easy to see why not. Instead of listening to an A/C unit all night, we have the balcony door open and a soundtrack of the Pacific Ocean. There's a constant breeze, and it's hot and cool all at the same time. I met a reader who lives out here on Saturday, and he told me that the weather that day was actually relatively humid! I couldn't believe it. Until Sunday. Then I knew what he was talking about. This morning is cloud-covered, but the surfers have still been out since 7 AM, and there's little doubt that a blue sky will soon emerge. Just as surely as I'm going to have a great day. Hope that you do too.


Patrick J Patten said...

Please keep posting about your "terrible time" picking winners on the West Coast while eating at fabu restaraunts, sleeping with the soundtrack of the pacific, and dealing with no humidity. Please no human should have to suffer what you are suffering, you are the martyr of the TBA.


Anonymous said...

I think room with a view might just be an understatement...

Great photos!

Anonymous said...

jeepers Alan, with coastal erosion rates being what they are, I wouldn't book any rooms at that place for 2012 or 2013.

Anonymous said...

From the shot of your place from the beach, it looks like you are staying in Solana Beach. My wife and I have stayed there many times when going to Del Mar. Dailey routine would be handicapping on the beach in the morning and then walk over to the track for the races, a glass of wine on the balcony looking at the ocean afterwards and then dinner at one of the many fine restaurants (Pamplemousse, if you really want to treat yourself) and then do it all over again the next day.

SantaBarbarian said...

I LOVE Del Mar, but my handicapping sucks there.

Babies and "ouchie old geezers" that suddenly feel like spring chickens are difficult to put a finger on, let alone a good exacta.

I go for the ambience, the color, the pagentry, the ponies, the food, the sun, the "escape" down the coast on AMTRAK.

Anonymous said...

Saw you at the track Sunday (at least I saw your family - your daughter has that "disaffected teen" look down pat). How long are you in town?

I miss the Saratoga blog from last year. Any chance you'll pick it back up if you go back there?

Alan Mann said...

>>Saw you at the track Sunday (at least I saw your family - your daughter has that "disaffected teen" look down pat).

I imagine it's not hard to notice the only people there that weren't having a good time! I'll be in town through Saturday's races. Thanks for your comment about the Saratoga blog. But from here, I'm off to my older daughter's graduation from her school in Vermont, and then to Saratoga a week later, with work in between. So no, sadly, I'm not going to be able to resume that site this year. But I'll be writing extensively about Saratoga here.