Sgt. Jeff Cohen, a retired New York City police officer who recently began a second career as a postal delivery employee, is able to come to Saratoga Race Course only once or twice a week. Often, he brings his young son Artie along, and Artie, an admirably polite red-haired lad, spends the day eating popcorn and ice cream while his father bets.
Like many New York horseplayers, the elder Cohen began teaching himself the basics at old Roosevelt Raceway, the harness track on Long Island. Roosevelt Raceway today is a condominium development that Michael Dubb, the successful businessman in horse owner partnership with Sandy Goldfarb, built. It was Dubb’s construction company that provided the labor to build Anna House, too. Anna House is the child care facility of the Belmont Child Care Association at Belmont Park.
Before the racing begins, Cohen partakes in the ritual of drinking the sparkling mineral waters from Big Red Spring. Once fortified by the magical elixir, he pours dollars through the windows, betting mostly on the live card, although also on Monmouth. It must be because Cohen’s an authority on water that he likes the idea of having a Las Vegas-styled light and water show in the infield. Or, maybe he’s just into fun.
It would be fun if the fountain was turned into a spectacle like the dancing waters in front of the Bellagio. If the track held the show after the eighth race, it would create an interest in people to stay a little longer. Choreographed shooting waters, colored lights, “New York, New York” sung by Frank Sinatra – wow, the attraction would put Hialeah’s flight of the flamingos to shame.
Visitors and spinners (the give-away stadium cushion was a bummer) enjoyed another light and water show, courtesy of Mother Nature. Before Charitable Man, a good-looking first-time-starter by Lemon Drop Kid, won the second race, the sky was blue at the head of the stretch, grey at the eighth pole and black and blue at the wire. Fill-in race-caller John Imbriale informed the public that the weather wouldn’t be pleasant, as the crackling thunder and bolts of lightning emphasized his creditability.
In the co-featured Yaddo Handicap, contested by a field of five New York-breds, Factual Contender had a ten-length lead after six furlongs in 1:14.89 on the yielding turf course before exhaustion set in. Last year’s 23-1 Yaddo winner, Latitude Forty, this year bet down to 4-1, caught him. Lightning strikes twice in some parts, now doesn’t it?
In the co-featured West Point Handicap, Classic Pack’s attempt to duplicate Latitude Forty’s feat, proved fruitless. At 13-1, the 2007 West Point winner finished second to Banrock.
Dr. Pleasure won a prep for the Woodward.