The backyard is a dust bowl.
There is hardly a blade of grass on the picnic grounds. On Sunday, a
cloudy start caused a smaller crowd than usual for the running of the fans. It's
too bad, because if there was ever a day to run, this was it.
Dashing to reserve one of 150 tables is the ritual that
begins the Saratoga
experience. Survival of the fittest has
been the law of the arid land. But, as
in everything the world has to offer, that behavior, too, will change eventually. As a matter of fact, it has already.
NYRA has a new policy whereby people have been invited to enter
a lottery to win the right to pay $100 for one of 15 tables set aside for the
Travers. The proceeds will go to
charity. Imagine the lottery to be a
kind of "Early Bird" seating like the one at Southwest Airlines. Whatever it
is, there are some people who don't like it.
"You can't take something that was free and force people to
pay for it," said Allan Goldberg, who prefers the stampede to an orderly
assignment. "That's a shakedown," he wrote on Facebook.com, even though the
fund-raising program invites voluntary participation. It was 1978 - the year of Affirmed and Alydar
- when NYRA began scattering picnic tables on the apron at the top of the
stretch and televisions in elms.
Televisions played an important role in two of Sunday's 10
races. You had to watch the replays closely to determine the winners in several
races. There were dead heats in the fourth and eighth races. The first resulted in seconds for Spina and
Lily Meadow; the second in firsts for Prize Catch and Codetta. If you weren't a horse racing fan before the
eighth race, you are now. At the finish
line, seven horses bunched up like a mini skirt.
Position Limit won the Gr.2 $150,000 Adirondack Stakes for
Starlight Partners. She won handily despite the willies in the paddock and
losing a front shoe while turning home.
Alas, the confident way that the Bellamy Road filly ran in only her second
start must have Jack and Laurie Wolf thinking back to Ashado and Octave.
Lastly, there's more than meets the eye regarding the death
of Thiscatismine and the collarbone injury that retired Hall of Fame jockey
Gary Stevens incurred in a morning workout, according to one authority. Stevens was to ride in a former jockeys' race
at Arlington Park this week. He wasn't licensed in New York State
to exercise horses when the accident happened.
Oops, a no-no.