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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Dreary Erie?

When I told the Space Gal that I was taking her up on her ideas to head down the thruway to Erie PA, which has a wonderful waterfront and decent row of bars along State Street...the reply was "Really? Dreary Erie?" At least expectations were set low. She had suggested the overnight trip to break up the holiday weekend and check out the new Presque Isle Downs racetrack, just five miles south of downtown Erie. After a nice lunch on the lakefront and a walk down around Dobbins Landing (very picturesque, if you've never been there), I think I opened her eyes to the fact that it's not so dreary in Erie after all. There were tons of boats out on the water, people fishing off the pier and the weather was picture-perfect. There was a cool waterfront bar called Rum Runners that was packed and it couldn't have been scripted better.

The track, however, to me was disappointing. I probably had higher expectations since it was brand new and I thought it would have great sightlines and plenty of seating to watch outside. Nope and nope. Valerie from Foolish Pleasure had warned me that the only place to get a really good view of the track was down at the rail, where we watched seven of the eight races on the card. There was no grandstand and limited seating outside maybe four rows of bleachers for maybe four or five sections. The infield looked like a swamp, and after seeing Fort Erie's beautiful infield flowers, lakes and landscaping, it really didn't compare visually. I also enjoy turf racing, wherein there is no turf course at PID, but that's the way it went.

On the plus side, I liked the simulcasting room which had plenty of tables and screens. The only downside was the smoke, you understand how lucky we are in New York with non-smoking facilities. We could only stand the smoke inside for a race but I enjoyed the room all the same. I enjoyed the paddock area also (it could use some grass), but it was nice to see the horses up close prior to the race and it was relatively close to the track. The paramutuel clerks were all very friendly and all had a smile on even when I said exacta, instead of perfecta.
The highlight of the racing was being able to see my first dead heat ever. In race three, the favorite Chariots N Calvary and Squaller dead-heated in a three way photo. My horse (the 3) Adore Ye was placed third in the photo. The Space Gal got a pretty good picture of it as we were watching at the finish line.

So, that was a cool experience in person. As for the handicapping, the Tapeta all-weather surface won the battle and the war. It was fun to try and add a few new elements to the normal handicapping cycle (watching for turf form, record on synth, etc.), but not too much fun. Plus the rail has been notoriously dead here since the meet started and the inside post won the first two races and had three seconds on the evening, throwing out that angle early. Ironically, two Finger Lakes shippers won two of the eight races on the card, which did include a couple of $40K allowance races. Not bad. Fields should increase here (the average for the card was probably around eight) with the closing of Ellis Park (update: might not close?). The most disappointing horse of the night was Silver Prospector, who dropped all the way to a $7500 claimer. This horse won a OC$50K/n2x in February at Aqueduct with a 98 Beyer! He came in dead last and has now run out of the money in four straight. Probably the most impressive horse of the evening was the $40K allowance winner Zubani, who is trained by Michael Trombetta. Here is a picture of him coming into the winner's circle, Phil Teator up.

Overall, we had a good time, and everyone there was very friendly. There was a pretty good crowd by the time the fifth race went off and totaled around 3,200, and on-track handle amounted to around $62K. Lessons learned: keep a closer eye out for class drops when at a smaller track, they tended to be the ones in the money and winning consistently and stay small when betting the synthetics (I did) which are still a handicapping novelty for me. Thank God it's only 17 more days til Saratoga!
Off we went to the Quaker Steak and Lube to test their wings against our buffalo-based palates (Buffalo wings rock...sorry Quaker Steak wings fans).


Valerie said...

I knew it was trouble as soon as Beckner’s 1 horse wired the field in race 1. Sorry about that :(

I was really disappointed when I visited too. What a wasted opportunity to have a first-rate track! I blame Mountaineer for being cheap (thus the lack of any seating or landscaping) and mostly the state of Pennsylvania for not providing any real oversight to make certain that entities given racing (and thus slots) licenses built top-notch facilities. Given that Mountaineer provides bottom-level racing, it doesn’t seem right that PA awarded a license to the same company, thus automatically making Presque Isle an extension of that facility and its kind of racing rather than an independent, quality facility.

Geno said... issues here your advice was invaluable, in fact, a Cozzene grandson (Alphabet Soup) won the last race!

Not sure I'll be back there anytime soon and it's only an hour and a half away...

QQ said...

Now you understand the predicament of the W.PA racing fan -- you can go to Mountaineer or, Mountaineer II (aka Presque Isle Downs.) Doesn't sound like much has changed since opening day, even though the racino has raked in enough dough to plan an expansion this fall.

Winston said...

Is someone stealing your material?

Sorry, I'm too ignorant to figure out how to make a link of this.

Anonymous said...

didn't you hit My Man Lars over the weekend??

EquiSpace said...

Val: Meant to say Alphabet Magic...whoops.

Q-Queen: I feel your pain.

Winston: Thanks.

Anon: You must have inside pal Martin from Clifton Park tipped me off on My Man Lars early in the day on Friday and we formed a partnership and hit a nice win/place thanks to a DQ..paying quite handsomely. Power Cap had blogged about Lars and his projected pace scenario favoring Lars earlier in the day and when I got the second tip (when is a tip ever real?) we were all over it! Thanks for reading!


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