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Sunday, February 05, 2012

A (Happy) Day at the Track

I've been complaining that I can no longer find a comfortable place to hang out at Aqueduct, but I found one on Saturday - the pressbox. Of course, this is only possible because NYRA has the good sense to grant blogging types such as myself full media access, even if some of us may not be full media types (and has been doing so long before many others did). It's kinda quiet up there - it's enclosed, the volume of the TV's is turned down low, and, even though there's a manned betting window and a betting machine, the 'no cheering in the pressbox' rule is strictly observed. So the atmosphere may be lacking, but the people are really nice - regulars David Grening from the Form, Jerry Bossert from the Daily News, and semi-regular Teresa were joined on this stakes day by several others (had the pleasure of meeting the great equine photographer Barbara Livingston) - the view is great, I can plug in my laptop, and even change the channel on the TV to catch the Bruins' latest loss. So, this will do.

Also get a chance to go down to the paddock, and even right out to the outer rail of the inner track to catch a real railbird's view. One thing that really struck me about the day was just how everyone seemed to be having a great time. (Except maybe NYRA's Dan Silver, which I'll get to in an upcoming post.) This was my first trip to the track since watching the desultory Luck, and it reinforced for me just how unrealistically gloomy it was. Sure, I wasn't amongst the masses on this day, but rather the press, and trainers and owners and NYRA employees and officials (happy horses too!). Even so, those types were represented as slugs on the show too, and here, everyone seemed to have a smile. And this was just a chilly winter day at Aqueduct. I understand that it's TV and, as the Troy Record's Nick Kling, who loved the show, pointed out during a debate on its merits on Twitter, happy people at the track don't really make for compelling TV. But I hope those with marginal or potential interest in the sport who watch the show can keep in mind that it's only a movie (so to speak). Because I can't imagine it would inspire anybody to give the game a try.

Here's some photos from the day.

The Toddster, Mike Repole and his family pose for the photogs after their Calibrachoa won the Toboggan.

The view of the clubhouse from the track.

Withers winner Alpha (background) returning after winning the Withers and.... the winner's circle afterwards

Here, I got lucky with a decent shot of 44-1 shot Speightscity grabbing the place spot in the Withers.

Later on, we went to the opening reception of the Queens International 2012 exhibit at the Queens Museum of Art. The museum is still under construction for its grand renovation, so is only partly open at this time. But it was a grand party, and an excellent exhibit featuring artists who live in the borough; the Head Chef and I highly recommend! Also a superb exhibit of black and white photographs of New York City street life from the 50s by the photographer Frank Oscar Larson. There was food and performance outside the museum too.

Rachel Mason - Dear Unisphere performance. How Queens can you get?!?!?