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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

At Least One Security Casualty for Belmont Day

The Head Chef is an official defection from the Belmont Stakes due to the increased security.  "I don't want to stand on line for 45 minutes to get in," is her main reason, moreso than the actual restrictions on what can be brought in.  Not sure where she got the 45 minute figure; but seems like a reasonable over/under.  (She also knows that I would surely abandon her to enter via the press entrance [wherever that may be], though that promises to be slow as well with all the questionable characters granted press credentials these days! :)

11,664 on hand for Memorial Day, and I saw lines to get in which seemed, if not really long, really slow, and that didn't seem like a good sign for Belmont day in any event.  Looked like coolers were getting more scrutiny than usual.  On the other hand, coolers (including the mini-itsy-bitsy-coolers that NYRA gave out on Monday) won't be permitted on Belmont Day.  But between the individual wanding and searches of pocketbooks less than 12" and whatever else we're actually allowed to bring in; as well as all of the inevitable arguments over interpretations and applications of the draconian rules, man, it's not gonna be pretty.  I hope NYRA has a plan in mind, and that they're planning to hire a LOT of extra personnel to handle the crush.  Because there's a real limited number of admission booths in place at each entrance - especially the entrances in the grandstand that people with their see-through containers of food and drink need to pass through.  Thinking about it more, people might get off really easy at 45 minutes.

Sorry I missed the Met Mile; a thrilling finish indeed.  And also a typical American dirt race on a distinctively American holiday.  Cross Traffic, after breaking in at the start, quickly established the lead, blazed the first half mile in 44.88 seconds, and then got home the last half mile in 49.30. Yet, even after repelling the charge of Mark Valeski, he was still able to hold on grimly until the final bob, having bottomed out anyone else who was within shouting distance.  This created the illusion that Sahara Sky ($11.60), dead last down the backstretch, was flying home to catch him, whereas he was tiring too, finishing up in 24.19 after splits of 22.33 and 23.20.   No one else in the field closed faster than 24.88.  Sahara Sky is 3/4s of a length shy of having won four graded stakes in a row.  He's by Pleasant Tap out of a stakes-winning Storm Cat mare; he has a younger brother named Animal Style (Spanish Steps) who won a sprint stakes on the grass at Fair Grounds this year.

Time now, if you don't mind, for a little bragging and whining.....I mean, that's a great deal of what this game is all about, yes?  Bragging about the winner I picked here at Churchill on Sunday (Gentleman's Kitten, $13.80).  Whining about Noosh's Tale, who I picked here at Belmont on Monday, and who got necked out at the wire by a hopeless looking 36-1 shot.  Ouch.  Not only did I lose the win bet and cold exacta over favored With Exultation, turned out that I would have had the daily double and the pick three as well.  It was a beat that kept on beating.   A tough start to the day from which I never recovered.  My other pick on Monday, Rakin' Gold, put in a nice effort too in the 5th, at 20-1, getting caught for the place spot a couple of steps before the wire.  Of course, I had him win/place.  One can always take a certain amount of satisfaction from picking live horses at good prices no matter what the result, but moral victories will only take one so far in this game.  And in anything else for that matter.


Dan said...

I copied this from my prior post:

I went to Belmont yesterday- a few thoughts-

1) I arrived at 1pm sharp & they ran out of the "give away" item- This isn't a big deal however I was surprised by this since the crowd was about 12K.
2) I had trouble using my NYRA one card on the self service machines- half the machines wouldn't read my card & I noticed a lot of the machines were "flashing red" so these machines would not accept tickets. I know NYRA will get a new tote service later this year but please these machines should work. I find it a lot easier to bet at home with my computer.

Unknown said...

Dan - Noticed a lot of problems with the machines as you mentioned, and was happy I have a card instead of relying on the vouchers. As you also noted, it's a lame duck tote system, but I would think they would have them working at Saratoga (new system is slated for Belmont fall)! I've brought my tablet and just wagered on that (with NYRA Rewards, of course!)

Anonymous said...

It shouldn't be that bad getting in on Belmont Day. They had very similar security at Pimlico, where there are less, and smaller, entrance areas, and it was pretty easy getting in.

Surely you have gone through security at MSG, Alan, and that is almost 20K people in a very short period of time. Honestly, the Belmont stuff is much ado about nothing.

Nice picks yesterday. Even the longshot that ran 5th overachieved. Tough beat in the 1st. Really tough.

El Angelo said...

I actually agree with Anon, unless you're coming through the LIRR, which I can see being a mess. But I also feel like we're looking at a pretty small crowd for the day (<45,000) so this may not be that big an issue.

Anonymous said...

Re. Belmont Day I'd say get there early or get there late.

As far as the self-service machines go I've also had them not take my card, or do so on the 4th or 5th swipe, but I figured it's because the card is getting old and I certainly don't feel like going through the hell NYRA must put you through to replace it. I pretty much do all non-multiple ticket betting on my phone anyway at this point.

cheers, Chris

Unknown said...

>>Surely you have gone through security at MSG, Alan, and that is almost 20K people in a very short period of time. Honestly, the Belmont stuff is much ado about nothing.

Yes, and at the Met Life Stadium too. The latter was a disaster until they greatly increased the number of entrance lines, which they can do there becuz they have the room. Ditto MSG....improved when they opened additional entrances on 8th Avenue. So I think a lot of it is a learning process, and just hope that they are well-prepared for these new procedures. And honestly, any problems that there may be will be the fault of the people as much if not more than NYRA. I had read that they are consulting with Pimlico and Churchill, so that should help.

And, as Angelo points out, might not be that big of a crowd, unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:39,

The hell NYRA must put you through to get a new card????

Therein lies the problem. Someone just takes a lame shot at NYRA...why? I don't know, because it's what the other cool kids are doing.

Getting a new card couldn't be easier. It took me about 10 minutes last time I had to do it. Oh, it was hell I tell you!

Dan said...

What is the best way to get a new card? Do I call NYRA rewards or get another at the track?

Anonymous said...

Either way would work, but if you know you are going to the races, I imagine you could call in advance and the card will be waiting for you when you get there.

Figless said...

I too encountered many inoperable machines, and I doubt it was card related since I really haven't used mine much.

After awhile I gave up and played the old fashioned way, with cash, but of course I get gypped out of NYRA reward points.

My other main complaint is the still barely functioning PA System, and its not just me since I heard a number of complaints.

Seems the volume is set for Wednesday when its empty, does anyone actually leave the clubhouse and check this stuff out?

With the now almost unreadable infield screens, the late posting of numbers during the race on those screens, and the inaudible call of the impeccable Durkin, it made following the races impossible. Watched the Met from the 1/8th pole and despite the crowd having thinned considerably had no idea what was going on other than Cross Traffic having the lead.

Been railing about this for years, they desperately need to spend some of the dedicated Cap Improvement money on a first class modern PA. Durkin is a treasure, its a shame not to share him with their on track customers.

Otherwise it was a fun day that I estimated higher than the announced attendance, and much younger than usual (or maybe I am getting older?), seemed to be plenty of 20-30 somethings having a good time.

The experiment with the NYC Food Trucks seemed to work well with long lines except for the poor guys at the Tibetan Dumpling truck, who were gung ho trying to drum up business, their offerings on their flyers seemed interesting but I had already filled up with the pulled pork/ macaroni and cheese. Hope they have these trucks on Belmont Day as they provide a much needed dose of quality and variety.

Dan said...

Figless is correct. NYRA needs to spend $ on the PA system. I can't hear a thing during the races. They need to make the ontrack experience special. I really find it easier & more comfortable to bet at home. Maybe the new CEO will doing something about these issues?