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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Just Zip It (Almost) A Winter Classic

- The Head Chef and I made our way down to the paddock to see Just Zip It before Tuesday's ninth race, just in time for me to watch Highland Cat's race from Calder on TV. It was his usual performance of late, lagging behind early before launching a non-threatening rally, this time for 5th. He was hurt by a bad post and a subsequent wide trip, and was running on quite well at the end. A few minutes afterwards, Steve, the managing partner for Castle Village (which still retained a piece after many of the partners, including myself, divested ourselves), got the call that the Cat had been claimed. Trainer Norman Pointer must have noticed that the gelding has become a fairly reliable plodder, consistently coming on for a share of the purse; and perhaps that he prefers the grass. With a better post position, at the same 16K level, I imagine he'll get back to the winner's circle one of these days.

As for Just Zip It, it was a fine second in her first race since 11/24/06. Bet down to 5-1 from her 15-1 morning line (not my money), she broke well, and stalked a couple of lengths behind the loose on the lead favorite Aegean Breeze, who was allowed to walk to the half in 47.43 on the muddy track. Around the turn, man, we were picturing ourselves in the winner's circle, finally. She was a threatening presence rallying around the turn and drawing within a head of the leader. But she couldn't get by and settled for second, three lengths behind. Still, she was clearly second best. It not only cost me having my picture taken, but I also stood to start out 2008 with a solid win, as I had a nice bet down on a cold late double, returning a generous $46, with Interborough winner Control System. Even though that filly was 6-5, you'll be hard pressed to find a bigger overlay all year, with the fading Oprah Winney pounded early and late to 4-5.

Still, Just Zip It looked great, raced very well off the long layoff, and pranced back to the paddock afterwards. She earned $8,800, hopefully enough to hold off a cash call for this quarter, anyway. And the four-year old daughter of City Zip certainly looks capable of earning some money in the state-bred ranks, should she remain sound.

- Paul Moran opines on his blog that "VLTs at Belmont amount to desecration and those who support their installation are little more than would-be vandals." For the most part, I personally have no argument with slots opponents, and I won't quarrel here with Moran's contention that a racino at Belmont will do little for the surrounding community, though that would remain to be seen. However, Belmont Park, in my opinion, is, in its present state, a desecration upon itself. The cavernous plant, the great majority of which stands unkempt, and unused except on the rarest of occasions, is a stark and dispiriting reminder of the sport's decline; and its sheer size makes it seem depressingly empty even when the crowd is decent by today's standards. If we must have slots in New York - and I suppose we must - I can't think of a better place for them than Belmont Park. It even makes more sense in terms of accessibility via public transportation, assuming that a racino would also entail a refurbishing of the Long Island Railroad station that currently stands as a ruined eyesore. It's a quick half hour or so train ride from Penn Station, while Aqueduct can be reached by subway only by the heartiest of fans. If that makes me a vandal, then so be it.

- Please bear with what will likely be some sparse posting in the next few days - unless, of course, there are some major new developments on the franchise front (which I now don't really expect until January 22). For one thing, I need a blogging break. For another, I need to attend to some personal affairs, including our impending wedding. That's right, the Head Chef and I have been living in blissful sin, and will have a (relatively) small and informal ceremony and celebration in March. And that's only two months away. So I need to do some things. Whatsmore, there are some rather important races coming up in Iowa and New Hampshire in the next few days that I'd like to devote some time to following.

In the meantime, one more note, totally off-topic. Kudos to the National Hockey League, NBC, the Buffalo Sabres, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Zamboni drivers, the ice repair crew, and the 71,000+ fans who came out to watch Tuesday's 'Winter Classic' in Buffalo. Like horse racing, the NHL is an enterprise struggling to re-gain recognition in the national sports conscience; and the nationally televised outdoor game landed it on the front page of the NY Times. No, I'm not suggesting that NYRA stage a day of racing in Central Park to return to its roots, but any new ideas are welcome. The sight of Sidney Crosby laboring just to entice the puck through the gathering snow on the ice on the way to his game-winning shootout goal was a memorable moment indeed. And that in what was just another out-of-town regular season game for this Rangers fan, but one which was compelling enough to inspire me to flip on the DVR before I went out to the track, and watch in its entirety upon returning. It was only the first Winter Classic, but a classic it was!


Anonymous said...

I thought that outdoor hockey game in the snow was about the coolest thing ever.

steve in nc said...

Congrats on your upcoming wedding! March was a great month for a wedding for me, and I wish you & the chef all the best.

Anonymous said...

Congrats and congrats!

The only thing more exciting than watching your horse gaining on the leader at the eighth pole is watching your bride to be walking down the aisle.

Mr. Ed

PS- the hockey thing was cool, even I, a total non-hockey fan, enjoyed.

Howabouts a Big A winter carnival?? The anti Sunshine Millions. NY Breds vs. other Midlantic states in February.

Rent some snow making equipment from the ski resorts if necessary.

Told ya Charlie Hayward needs me. I can be his Stronarch.