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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Belmont Bomb

"And that's why they run the race," said the Saratoga Resident. The buzz yesterday at Belmont Park was like none other that I have ever felt, and I've been to a sporting event or two. The electricity, especially the roar generated when the horses were loading and sent off around 6:31 pm last evening, rivaled that of the 1987 NCAA Championship Game in the Superdome, Joe Carter's home run to win the World Series in 1993, Game Six of the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals (no goal) and three AFC championship game victories by the Bills in the early 90's. And believe me there was some electricity in those joints. But Da'Tara ($79.00), the Tiznow colt, spoiled Big Brown's coronation and sent many shaking their heads to various planes, trains and automobiles. More on Da'Tara tomorrow.

It was a spectacular day at beautiful Belmont Park (sans the plumbing) where the heat and humidity at times were stifling, but it just didn't matter. We were there to have fun, and I think I smiled all day long. We started the day at the world famous Blarney Rock Tavern for our traditional bloody (is three years a tradition?) before catching the train out to the track. Where else but New York can you find a packed bar of handicappers at 11am? We just caught the 12:23 train as the Space Gal and I went full sprint and were greeted by cheers by a group of lads who appeared to just wake up from the Preakness infield. We just made it before the doors closed. These guys were hilarious! Someone forgot to tell them that Casino Drive had scratched and they led the train in a rousing "U-S-A" chant. Their leader, "budweiser hat guy" passed around a few cans of light beer out of his rite aid bag, and we just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

On to Belmont and here were some of the days highlights:

- Seeing Shaquille O'Neill in full silks in the paddock after race four, which delayed my visit with some of the fellow TBA bloggers, who were all very nice and welcoming to the both of us. My stakes picks went 2 for 6 on the main page, respectable for an initial showing, but certainly nothing to write home about.
- First score of the day, the trifecta in the sixth with Benny the Bull on top. Good times!
- Relaxing in the back, where fellow handicapper JB had a big winner with J Be K in the Woody Stephens. We had an excellent time enjoying a beer and a cigar, while toasting JB's win.
- Second score of the day, the exacta in the tenth with Dancing Forever and Out of Control. What a terrific race the Manhattan was and I heard ABC didn't show it because they had some special interest piece on Desormeaux. Ouch.
- The train ride back to Penn Station where we met a lovely woman named Yetta, who traveled 16 hours by car all the way from Huntsville, Alabama by herself to see Casino Drive. She really wanted Better Than Honour to pull off her own triple (dam of past two Belmont winners) and was somewhat disappointed in the scratch, but she seemed to have had a super time nonetheless.

The highlight of the day was being able to get down in the paddock before the Belmont. We were right in front of stalls 7-10, so we had great views of Zito, Pletcher, Bo Derek and of course, Tale of Ekati, Anak Nakal, Ready's Echo (what a specimen) and Ichabad. We took a ton of pictures, I had a pretty good one of Desormeaux on Brown as they circled for the last time before going out. That pic got me a "get out of jail free" card from the police captain from Boston who sat behind us in 2B for emailing it to him, not that I'll ever need it.

We capped off the day with an awesome dinner and a couple bottles of wine with the Toga Rez at Da Marino on 49th and met some real characters at the bar afterwards. Dennis the piano guy (not to be confused with budweiser hat guy) played all kinds of tunes that led to such lines from the Saratoga Resident as "thank you des moines" and "i'll be here all week." High comedy indeed. We played guess the waitresses' nationality and guess the check (within $5). Yes, Houston, we have a (gambling) problem. Of course, yours truly nailed them both with Russia and within $3.45 of the bill (no easy task), although there may be some debate over whether I really had Russia or the former Yugoslavia countries. Dennis was terrific on the piano playing Croce, Elton John, Billy Joel and whatever we wanted (i.e., theme from ice castles for our pal Patrick in Boston) as we sang along. The owner, Mossimo, did a few card tricks for us and we completed the night with Denny's rendition of American Pie. What a day. Being with great friends and loved ones is what it's all about and although we didn't see a Triple Crown, we had a blast and ended on a super note.



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