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Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday Morning Notes - January 18

- The two Pletcher first-timers in Thursday's 7th at Gulfstream were both 6-1 in the morning line. Magnificent Melody went off at 11-1, while Back for More was the second choice at 3-1. And the board was right on as Back for More became the Toddster's eighth winner from 16 starters at the meet. I find it reassuring when things go according to plan like that; however there was no planning for 45-1 Quiet Meadow finishing second, and blowing out many exotics players. Quiet Meadow was only 8-1 morning line and, trained by Zito, and with fairly solid works, she's the kind of horse I might have thrown into the exotics if I was betting the race in advance, but never would have had if I was at the track and saw her at 45-1.

Zito got Commentator to the winner's circle in the 8th, and by 14 lengths under his own courage while well in hand. It was his first win against open company since the Whitney in 2005; he'd won two facile NY-bred stakes races in the interim. The now seven-year old gelded son of Distorted Humor had last been seen fading to a distant 7th in the BC Sprint, and he's the second horse to come out of that race and win its next race; Benny the Bull was the other. But every Sprint runner who has run back has done pretty well. Midnight Lute ran second to Dahaar in the Cigar Mile, and his 109 Beyer was actually a point higher than he earned in his electrifying Sprint win. Talent Search was second to Benny the Bull; and Greg's Gold and Idiot Proof both ran third. Bordonaro, Kelly's Landing, and Smokey Stover have yet to run back.

- A couple of commenters and emailers seemed to take offense to my comment about people in the backyard at Saratoga not paying attention to the races. So I just wanted to clarify that I too, like Teresa, am a denizen of the backyard. In fact, I'd consider myself one of the Deans of the Denziens of the backyard; or at least a co-Dean. You'll find me in the area just behind the Carousel restaurant, and I spend most of my time right there. So I don't mean to denigrate the backyard crowd, and I'm certainly not drawing battle lines between the people in the back and those in the clubhouse and grandstand. I've written about this before, and it's not a big deal, just an observation. I'm glad people come and have a good time no matter how they choose to spend the day. As Green Mtn Punter said, many are merely reveling in the rich, historic ambiance of America's most beautiful and historic racetrack. And that's great.

But facts are facts, and the fact is that a lot of people back there don't pay attention to the races! I guess it's time for me to reprise this video that I shot during the running of a race there a couple of years ago.


Teresa said...

Sorry to have made classist comments about the people in the clubhouse. I'm sure they're very nice, and even I sit there every once in a while.

I love the territorial aspects of life in the back; I have never, in thirty years of going to Saratoga, sat anywhere near the Carousel. You will find us near the paddock, near the last bank of betting machines, two rings of TV sets in. Every time.

Anonymous said...

If you are indeed camping out in the back you need to bring a couple of non-interested parties to watch hold down the fort while you play the races.

But your point that a bank of "vlts" back there would do no harm is well taken.

Don't want a separate room with 1500 machines, but maybe a hundred in a tent at the top of the stretch would not hurt.

Those wandering around in the video would be prime candidates.

Alan Mann said...

>>If you are indeed camping out in the back you need to bring a couple of non-interested parties to watch hold down the fort while you play the races.

I actually had a chair disappear last summer. It was one of those blue foldouts that everyone has, so I was willing to surmise that it was taken by mistake. But a friend had his cooler stolen. I'd never heard of such of thing in all the prior years I've been there.

Anonymous said...

I've sent the LATG link to the Backyard Denizens in my circle so they can enjoy the eruption of comments following Alan's thinking out loud about VLT's "outback", followed by his continuing crusade against the venerable saddling bell. It's great, isn't it?! Six months to go before that marvelous bell clangs again, driving Alan to distraction, if not madness, and already we're enjoying the virtues of our favorite summer place! /S/Green Mtn Punter

Anonymous said...

As a veteran of every Travers since Rhythm stormed home since 1990, please allow me to comment.

I have sat in every area of Saratoga from the backyard, to Turf Terrace, to owners boxes and every Grandstand reserved seat section.

In EVERY area of the Spa you have hard core handicappers mixed with people who are there to enjoy the day with their spouses, family members and guests.

The point is Saratoga is horseplayers' paradise no matter you care to enjoy it.

Teresa said...

I am honestly very surprised at the thefts that you guys have mentioned; it's really the first I've heard of it. I've gotten there at 7 am, dumped a cooler and chairs on a table, and returned at noon--with everything exactly where I left it. Ditto for forays away from the table during the day.

As an indicator of cultural trends, I'll take this as evidence that we're going to hell in a handbasket.

steve in nc said...

I can't imagine being at the Spa and having to watch the race on TV instead of watching through binocs from the clubhouse. I sometimes can't tell who won that way, but hell, almost every day I play the races, I am at home and have to watch 'em on TV. I need the Spa experience to be different.

I yearn for the old days when I could walk right up to the horses as they were saddled in the back yard; watching them go by as they walk from the paddock to the track is as close as I can come now. But I'd rather have to race-walk from that path to the windows and then up the stairs to the clubhouse than have to watch a TV. Alan, if I've jostled you and made you spill Teresa's beer as I've rushed by on my way to the stairs, sorry about that.

Jim L said...

Alan is right. I had a cooler taken last year on Travers' Day. But, guess what, we waited and waited and waited for Calvin Borel so we could get a picture with him.

I would say the card was about 30 minutes over before he came out. Maybe north of 45 minutes. They didn't take the chairs, just the $18 cooler, the smaller kind that you carry with one hand. They were "kind" to dump the bottles of water out and not make it a borderline larceny. After all, like everything else in the Spa City, bottled water is overpriced too. Now that is where the real crimes take place. The price gouging is bad, except for a restaurant or two that keeps it reasonable.

How about a SPA improvements post, Alan? People can access it repeatedly with a link near the top of the main page? Here is a suggestion for the SPA backyard about NYRA working with a local grocery store, say Price Chopper, and sell cases of pop, bags of ice, and some other things with the prices being the same as found in the stores. People will be able to put their stuff on ice without having to lug something so heavy in.

$8 is the expected price of a hamburger this year, isn't it? Hamburger and fries for over $10? No wonder these people aren't watching the races, they can't afford them.

Anonymous said...

My "Do Not Despair Saratoga Reserved Seat Patron" letter from Charlie Hayward arrived in today's mail. Could summer be far behind? Seems so today, a bit nippy in the north country. But any news of the Spa is always welcomed, perhaps it's Charlie's way of spurring us on to call our assemblyman, or better yet, Joe Bruno, and demand immediate action on the pending NYRA restoration? It's a fairly glowing report on how all the creditors will be paid, and that ev everybody will live happily ever after in NYRA-land. He mentions the Gov and the Speaker being on board, but nada on Joe, heh, heh. So, let's help him out by calling Joe's Saratoga Springs office at (518)583-1001, or Albany (518)455-3191, and demand IMMEDIATE ACTION! /s/Green Mtn Punter