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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Revisiting Big Sandy

As many of you may know, I became obsessed with this great sport in August 2004 at the ripe age of 40, several months after watching Birdstone upend Smarty Jones's bid for the Triple Crown while on vacation with the Space Gal down in Key West. This year will mark my fifth consecutive Belmont Stakes and Belmont Day, which I feel has one of the top five cards in racing the year has to offer. So before we start our sojourn down to Big Sandy for the weekend's festivities, I thought I'd reminisce a little on my first four Belmonts and some of the memories I'll never forget.

2006: I had attended my first Derby to see Barbaro rock the racing world. Who can then forget the fateful moment at Pimlico after being reloaded after an early gate break that led to Bernardini's victory and the fate of a great colt. It was a motley crew assembled for the '06 Belmont that included the Derby runner up Bluegrass Cat and the fourth place finisher and deep closer Jazil, who stole the day for Fernando Jara's first (and currently last) Triple Crown ride. Derby show horse Steppenwolfer finished fourth and west coast stalwart Bob and John just didn't fire that day. Best memories of the day: 1) having the first bloody of the day at the Blarney Rock across for the Garden reading the Form in anticipation of a great day; 2) the Saratoga Resident had us in supreme box seats just past the finish line and with a great view of the winner's circle; 3) being way too close to the Toddster and posing in some pictures behind him for laughs and; 4) watching Gorella close like a freight train in the Just a Game

This is what too many Heineken 24 ouncers can do to a guy.












2007: My favorite Belmont to date. Seeing history is always special. Ranks up there with seeing a Stanley Cup celebration (even though we lost), a World Series home run (Joe Carter) and a Final Four buzzer shot (Keith Smart) to win a national championship. Rags to Riches became the first filly since 1905 to win the Belmont. Beating Horse of the Year, Curlin, made it all the more special. Again, the Saratoga Rez had us in tremendous seats (even better than 2006) down near the finish line and the place went crazy in the stretch drive. Memories from 07 include: 1) being in the box in front of the Imawildandcrazyguy owners who were having a good 'ole time; 2) seeing the Toddster's reaction four boxes over after winning his first TC race; 3) bloodies at the Blarney Rock (of course); 4) seeing Old Blackie (Better Talk Now) win the Manhattan with a powerful close; and 5) hanging in the Meat Packing District at Balthazar on Friday night with the boys ("A storm is coming")


Rags and Todd making their way from the paddock to the track. Johnny V up.












2008: Big Brown. 94,476 in the house. 95 degrees in the shade. Bathroom failures. Pregnant Space Gal. Empty bank account. But still had a whale of a time! While there was disappointment that we didn't get to see history, the card was terrific and thanks to the Toga Rez we had good seats just after the break and access to bathrooms that saved the Space Gal's day. 2008 Memories: 1) Benny the Bull winning the True North; 2) J Be K winning the Woody Stephens; 3) bringing the Space Gal to the Blarney for a Virgin Mary (do you see a pattern?); and 4) return trip to Balthazar on Friday and Da Marino on 49th for Saturday night's dinner and wine-inspired singalongs with the piano guy.

Jockey Shaq was in the house!













2009: Made the trip solo and roamed the vastness of Belmont Park all day long. Highlight of the day was meeting my pal Ernie and Dan Silver early in the morning and casually mentioning how much I liked Summer Bird. Was fortunate enough to attend the post-race press conference to see the joy of trainer Tim Ice and jockey Kent Desormeaux who achieved a tad of redemption after past Belmont failures. Memories include: 1) driving to Belmont for the first time and making it out of the war zone that was my parking lot after the day was over; 2) seeing blog comrades Alan H. and Robert from the TBA who I only see a few times each year; 3) getting my picture taken with Edgar Prado after his book signing and asking him if he reads my blog (he not too good with computer - umm, that's a negatory). 4) hanging with JB and the boys under their special tree for a few races and banging out a few show pool bets.

Bird is the word.















2010: ??????

We'll have some race thoughts up tomorrow evening before the Space Gal and I head out to Big Sandy.

4 Comments:

railrunner said...

Nice recaps. The only Belmont I've been able to attend was the 2007 and it was incredible.
I used to love Better Talk Now, he was a great racer!

SaratogaSpa said...

You behind Pletcher-classic!

The_Knight_Sky said...

Are you saying the bean-counter behind Mr. Pletcher is the one and only?

Railrunner - Better Talk Now's got a new banner hanging in the Hall of Champions at Monmouth Park this year.
c'mon down.

EquiSpace said...

Brian: Thanks. BTN also one of my favs.

Robt: It was even funnier in the moment.

TKS: Yep, a rare SpaceMan appearance from under the radar.

 

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