Friday, December 14, 2018
With Brexit pretty much dominating the news coming from Great Britain, we can fully expect to see more of Prime Minister May than of Chancellor Merkel.
The Prime Minister just recently survived a vote of "No Confidence" and achieved a bit of a reprieve, but is by no means out of the woods yet.
However Brexit turns out, and who is happy with it and who isn't. one thing can be counted on: Prime Minister Theresa May will continue to look smashing as the 'World's Most Photographed Woman with Clothes On."
To the victor goes the clothing. Imported or not.
Friday, December 7, 2018
Now, the windows don't open because of air conditioning and there are a lot less window boxes perched over the heads of pedestrians. So what should be the horticulture symbol now?
Cannabis. Pot. Marijuana. MaryJane.
If you are reasonably up-to-date on NYC news, then you probably have heard of the proposal to have New York State legalize recreational marijuana and use the proceeds from a tax on its sale to help pay for subway improvements.
All kinds of numbers are being thrown around, none of which provide all the money needed to fix things, but in the eyes of the proposers represent a very good start. There are other proposals being made to raise money, congestion pricing being a favorite one that keeps rearing its head up out of the water.
I haven't read of raising the bottle redemption fee to 10¢, like what it is in Michigan, but I'm sure that's on someone's list. Of course, money is currently raised and earmarked for expenses from unredeemed bottles and cans. This counts as abandoned property. The weakness of the 10¢ proposal is that with a fee that high more bottles will be redeemed, and thus the abandoned property pile of cash will be lowered, in effect directing even less money than what is now directed toward who-knows-what.
It is interesting to note what proposals are not being made. So-called sin taxes on cigarettes and alcohol are not being prominently mentioned. Gambling seems off the table as well. These categories are likely saturated with taxes that are being directed to who-knows-what, and any attempt to raise them even further will push the whole equation into the territory of diminishing returns, an area to be avoided.
In yesterday's NYT, the Metropolitan reporter Emma G. Fitzsimmons outlines at length all the proposals. Give everyone credit, they are all thinking outside the box.
I'm no economist, but it always seems to me that the price for things increases as the pool of money to pay for them increases. Institute student loans and make lots more students able to pay for college...raise the tuition to capture the newly available funds.
Drugs? Collect money through the pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and have the drug companies come running to collect vast sums from them. Mortgages? Expand the sources of income you use to calculate the funds available for the owners to borrow, and the price of the real estate will rise to capture that money being pumped into the system.
Improve the subways? The opposite is true right now. No money to pay for things. And the price is out of reach. This seems like the best time to get things done. Lower the price to match the money available. Raise more money, and the price is sure to rise.
There are strange things done in the city's sun
By the men who run the trains.
But the strangest yet might be to let
The public smoke out their brains.
We always live in interesting times.
Thursday, December 6, 2018
When someone a good while ago complained in a letter to the NYT that the Garden stunk at playoff time because it was sharing arena time with the circus and the odor of elephant dung hung in the air, the president of the Garden, Mike Burke, wrote back that if you're interested in nice smells then you should glide past the perfume counters at Saks Fifth Avenue. In other words: stop complaining.
I wasn't at Sunday's game, and it might be questioned if the Rangers were themselves at the game, giving up a three goal lead in the third period that allowed Winnipeg to tie the game, playing scoreless through the overtime, and then losing the game in a shootout. A lousy end to what should have been a better memory.
The Rangers have had way more bad years than good years. When I first started going regularly to games at the Old Garden on 8th Avenue and 49th Street, I was in high school, and you could get in for 50¢ with your high school "GO" card. "GO" stood for General Organization and it allowed you to buy a $1.50 side balcony ticket for 50¢. The trouble with the side balcony at the Garden as it existed then was that for hockey, the views of the ice got increasingly more obstructed as you got past the first row. Rob B was already giving you an eclipse of the ice. Go right to the top, and you saw half the ice, lengthwise.
I had a friend who had a season ticket to the Rangers when we were in high school. Mike was a celebrity, being hunkered down in Row A with an absolute beautiful unobstructed view of the ice, almost hanging over it from his balcony perch. I would get in for my 50¢, seek Mike out at his seat, and grab the seat behind him in row B, and peer over his shoulder. It was nearly as good as being in Row A.
You see, the Garden was originally built for boxing matches, and if you were to stick a ring at what was center ice, you could appreciate that the sight lines were perfect for watching punches being thrown.
Not that the style of hockey played in that era was without more than its share of fighting. The joke was, "I went to the fights and a hockey game broke out." Jesus, did they ever brawl in those days.
And Vic Hadfield always was on the card in either the main or preliminary bout when he could be counted on to drop his gloves as soon as the puck was dropped from any face-off that contained Henri Richard opposite him,
Henri Richard was the younger brother of Maurice "The Rocket" Richard, who was an absolute hockey legend who retired in 1960 from the Montreal Canadians.
In that six-team league era you played the other five teams 14 times, seven home, seven away. The players grew to hold massive grudges against their opposing number. If they didn't settle their score in one game, they didn't have long to wait to try again. There were often home and home games.
Henri, dubbed "The Pocket Rocket," also playing for the Canadians, for some reason rubbed Vic Hadfield the wrong way. Or Vic rubbed Henri the wrong way. It really didn't matter which way anyone was rubbed, because you could count on Vic Hadfield dropping his gloves and vigorously thumping Henri's head with his fists, (no helmets then) as they each tried to pull their sweaters over the other guy's head. There was no added "aggressor" penalty then, so they were both sent off with matching penalties. It was always fun to watch the other 8 players on he ice who had been holding each other off by the scruff of their sweater collars and somewhat waltzing each other around in tight circles to now go and find their gloves and sticks and get ready to resume play. Games could take forever to finish.
It seems obstructed views are in the Garden's DNA. The most recent renovation has seen a catwalk of sorts constructed over the ice that goes the length of the ice. Since you need to hold this up, there are now enough struts in the way that the rafters and display of retired jerseys are blocked from the view from certain sections of the top rung of seats.
This was again pointed out by a season ticket holder who writes the bklynbckstretch.com blog, They are a Rangers fan, a racing journalist, as well as a teacher who points out that certain sections would have been unable to even see the retired jersey once it was raised to the ceiling.
And not seeing something of course reminds me of the time that Vic yanked the mask off the Toronto goaltender Bernie Parent as he wandered into a scrum of fighting players. Goaltenders tend to stay in their crease when any fights break out. But this Ranger/Maple Leaf game produced a new level of unsurpassed brawling.
In this instance, after Parent stuck his face in the fray, Hadfield reached over and pulled Bernie's mask off and flung it, and I mean flung it, high over the glass and deep in to the seats, many rows back. Parent is now without his mask, and though they hardly resembled what they are today, they were important and custom made for each goaltender.
Someone in the crowd now has Bernie's mask. And then the chant starts: "Don't Give It Back." Don't Give it back..." The fracas is eventually dissolved, but the chant continues. There is no indication that the mask is coming back to the ice. And it doesn't. Ever.
And neither did Parent return to the ice. A substitute finished the game for Parent.
As much as I remember the incident, I had the context completely wrong. I thought it was during a Philadelphia Flyers game played on a Sunday afternoon, rather than a first round playoff game against the Toronto Maple leafs on a Thursday night, April 8, 1971. Bernie Parent had by then already played for the Philadelphia Flyers. He would latter return to play for them as well.
Vic was of course a linemate of Jean Ratelle and Rod Gilbert, the GAG—goal a game line—that seemingly played tic-tac-toe with the puck and one another, passing it between themselves with seeing-eye accuracy until it often landed in the back of the opponent's net. They were a joy to watch.
Even though Vic tended to be the first to come off that line and head to the bench, raising his stick to indicate he was gassed, he did stay on he ice long enough to become a 50 goal scorer and achieve that measure of greatness that few players ever achieve, even in today's game.
I was there the afternoon Vic scored his 50th goal. It was against Denis DeJordy, the Montreal goaltender substituting for Ken Dryden. The Rangers were scheduled to play the Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs on Wednesday, and Dryden was getting a rest.
Ken Dryden, was that giant of a goaltender who regularly played for the Montreal Canadiens and who Phil Esposito once screamed at when, as a Bruin, Ken stopped one of his tip-in attempts. Phil got so frustrated at Dryden that he slammed his stick blade on the ice and yelled at him, "you fucking giraffe."
Vic entered the game with 48 goals, got his 49th in the second period and his 50th with five minutes to go in the game, and the regular season. He was the first Ranger to ever score 50 goals in a season. It is still an accomplishment, and a testament to how well the GAG line worked in those great early 70s seasons that still couldn't produce a Stanley Cup.
There was a great 'Sports of the Times' column by Dave Anderson that I actually found in neat files I kept of 1970s hockey stories. The very yellow hard copy is titled: From the Butcher Shop to Leather Coats. The December 4, 1971 piece leads off in terrific Dave Anderson prose:
When the Rangers play a game at Madison Square Garden, they gather at noon for a short meeting with Emile Francis, their short general manager and coach, who is long on organization. After it, some of the players break a sweat in a brief skate and gather again at a nearby hotel for a ritualistic steak. Then they are free to snooze or stroll until they return to the Garden at night. After a recent noontime briefing, Vic Hadfield looked around at his teammates:
"I'm going over to that coat place," the captain announced. "The good leather coats, like mine. Anybody want to come?"
Several players joined him. But the access of expensive leather coats at a celebrity discount symbolizes the ascent of the Rangers into New York's most successful sports team. As the leaders of the National hockey League, the Rangers have achieved status unknown to them in the Old Garden during so many seasons of frustration. There, after a practice, a nearby Ninth Avenue butcher shop was the border of their celebrity status.
"I'm going to the butcher's," any of the might say in those years. "Good meat, good price,"
Reminded of the butcher shop, Rod Gilbert laughed. He appreciated the symbolism of it all.
"I remember that," the right wing said. "Now the guys can afford to go out to dinner instead."
Vic apparently exhibited leadership on and off the ice as he took some Rangers shopping for the good stuff they now could shop for.
And I too shopped for something. When I was watching Sunday's game I noticed coach David Quinn was wearing a lapel pin that was a replica of Hadfield's now retired jersey. Did they hand them out at the game? How can I get one?
I tweeted the Ranger season ticket holder, racing journalist and teacher and asked. Alas, she wasn't at the game, but did suggest trying eBay.
Success. For $18.95 that included shipping, I could buy the pin. I did, and it arrived in one day.
And one day, sooner or later, or maybe even much later, the Rangers will win another Stanley Cup, the last coming after 54 years of emptiness in 1994.
Hell, they're almost half way through the next 54 years.
Sunday, December 2, 2018
You know you're about to read the obituary of a certified character when the headline goes: Lady Trumpington, 96; Busted Codes and Chops.
And the 2005 photo of her Ladyship in the center of four of Britain's Yeoman's Guards—the guys on the label of Beefeater Gin—gives you the further clue that she was British.
The dateline of the obit is London, and I'll assume Palko Karasz is the byline of a London based reporter for the NYT. The entire obit, headline and all, is from across the pond. As playful as obits have become, I doubt anyone in this country would refer to "busted chops" in a headline.
Jean Alys Campbell-Harris—Lady Trumpington—was Anglo-American in heritage, with an American heiress for a mother, who married a Brit who had been a Bengal Lancer. It has to be the American half of her that acted up.
It is interesting to note that an example of her wickedness is to recount the time, when at 89 and in the House of Lords, she made "a two-fingered gesture of contempt to a fellow peer, Lord King....after he referred to her age during a televised debate."
And what is a two-fingered gesture? The middle finger of each hand directed at someone? No. It is two fingers of one hand held as a V and directed at someone. And this is bad? Churchill did it all the time.
Unreported in the obit is that a V flashed at someone with the palm facing outward is the V for victory sign that Churchill gave often. Palm outward is a nice V. Palm inward, facing yourself, and flashing a V sign with a somewhat upward motion is to in effect say, "up yours." The palm inward is the V that Lady Trumpington flashed to Lord King.
I'm only aware of his because of the movie 'Darkest Hour' starring Gary Oldman as Churchill. Churchill, unaware of the distinction, is photographed flashing a V sign, palm inward, but fully meaning it to denote victory.
There is a scene in the movie that has Churchill's secretary, a young woman who is more than a little frightened of Winston, feeling compelled to pull him aside in the deep tunnels of the war room and tell him the gesture he was photographed making in certain quarters of Britain means "up your bottom."
Churchill finds this hysterically funny and breaks out in fits of laughter. He does though, in the future, flash what becomes his famous V sign with the palm outward. Whether he reserved the other greeting for Stalin is unknown.
Several examples of Lady Trumpinton's fun behavior are offered: dancing on tables, jumping into a pool fully clothed at her husband's school, and keeping up her bad girl image..."I smoked and drank, and did everything naughty."
Her code breaking came from her youth at Bletchley Park, where she was a cipher clerk, typing translated intercepted messages from the German Navy. She was fluent in French and German.
Her American heiress mother's fortune was from a Chicago paint business. After the war, Lady Trumpington had her own paint business in effect, painting Paris red with her last-night carousing. "Oh, I had so much fun in Paris after the war."
She only retired from the House of Lords last year, expressing a desire that debates should be short. This too had to be the American in her.
She had to be fun.
Friday, November 30, 2018
We now have a president who Tweets. Incessantly. If he didn't there would probably be less news, because when he tweets, others tweet right along. And they tweet whenever he says or does anything.
I find it amazing that two years into the presidency the Tweets of President Trump haven't been compiled into a book in time for that special stocking stuffer. Maybe it has something to do with copyright laws—who owns the Tweet? I have no idea, but I think someone is missing out on a major marketing opportunity.
President Trump isn't the only world leader who Tweets. But he is setting the record for inanities. Barely a day goes by without something being said about someone or something that is head scratching. He has a thing about pointing out attributes that have nothing to do with the subject. It is too grand a title to declare he is "a master of deflection." Master of the belittling non sequitur is more like it.
A recent example is a Tweet put out there by @saraeisen, a financial reporter for CNBC. She Tweeted a quote from a news report that claimed President Trump liked the Federal Reserve Chairman, Janet Yellen who was appointed by his predecessor, and might have renominated her, but openly questioned if she was up to the job because of her height, which WikiPedia puts at 5' 3".
Given his reservations about her height, the President appointed Jerome Powell, a figure whose height is not revealed by WikiPedia, but who obviously stands at something over 5' 10". Thus, the President is clearly equating height with ability.
Why his inner circle isn't filled with retired basketball players, say, Bill Russell, at 6' 10", is a complete mystery. Perhaps growing up in Jamaica Estates, the son of a wealthy builder, the young Donald didn't shoot any hoops in the schoolyard, so he may not even be aware of Bill, or even what basketball is.
Having a Chairman of the Federal Reserve that is a scant 8" taller than a 90-year-old radio talk show sex therapist is not the image the President wants to make in his promise to Make America Great Again (MAGA).
It is also possible that President Trump is looking for certain numbers and is inversely associating them with height.
Chairman Powell has been on board for an economy of health, with an expansion rate at 3.5 percent annualized during the third quarter, coupled with an unemployment rate that has fallen to 3.7 percent.
It is possible that President Trump doesn't believe short people can keep such important numbers low. You need someone who can press down on them from a greater height, have more leverage, than someone who is only 5' 3", as Dr. Yellen is.
If this theory holds, then think of what numbers Bill Russell might attain bearing down from a 6' 10" height.
Thursday, November 22, 2018
Maybe on the Upper West Side there is a different curriculum in early education. How else can you explain the story of two boys, brothers, approaching The Grammar Lady at her sidewalk table and asking, "what is a gerund."
Today's NYT brings us the story in its 'Styles' section of Ellen Jovin who sets up a grammar table at different spots in Manhattan and fields questions on grammar from all-comers.
It's a slice-of-city tale that perhaps can only come from New York. Ellen Jovin has decided to reach out to strangers, old and young alike, and attempt to answer their questions on grammar and punctuation. She keeps a small pile of grammar books at her side to help her.
I have to say I'm not familiar with the reporter's byline Katherie Rosen, but she spins a nice story. Her only faux pas I can see is to tell us Ms. Jovin sets up in Grand Central Station when I'm sure what she really means is Grand Central Terminal, since she mentions "under the eaves." This is a common mistake made even by seasoned New Yorkers. She quotes the grammar lady as trying not to be a grammar snob, but I tend to be a NYC snob when it comes to pointing out the distinction between the nearby post office, Grand Central Station, and the train shed, Grand Central Terminal. It's just me.
Aside from all that, it's a fell-good tale of someone's attempt to get the public to concentrate on writing and not reverting to ancient Egypt and adopting hieroglyphic emojis as their form of communication. You got to start someplace.
Grammar gets a boost from best-selling books like, 'Eats Shoots and Leaves' by Lynne Truss, Mary Norris's 'Between You and Me, Confessions of a Comma Queen,' and Simon Griffin's 'Fucking Apostrophes.' All three are entertaining reads, as well as good reference books. One of my complaints has always been Ms. Truss's insistence of making a big deal out of the apostrophe and 'Two Weeks' notice. a movie title as well as a term for resigning.
Why argue over the apostrophe when you can simple say "two week notice?" Likewise, when a retired reporter asks about using an apostrophe and shows off by telling the Grammar Lady his knowledge of Latin (that guy's got to be my age, old ), that "a friend of Donald Trump's" is a redundant use of the possessive "of" and the apostrophe, I have to also disagree with the Grammar Lady who says it's conversational, so it's okay. Perhaps. But again, why not just "a friend of Donald Trump."
"He's a friend of Donald Trump" is all you need. My rule about the apostrophes is try and follow the rules, but when in doubt, duck. And if the sentence above is true, you also need another friend.
Monday, November 19, 2018
It promised to be a bit of an off-kilter day, with the three turf races moved to the main track—even the Grade III Red Smith—and the track was starting off as Muddy, but progressing quickly to Good and Fast, as expected. Scratches were everywhere, as there always are when the carded surfaces shift, and the track starts out as off.
Even with all that upheaval, The Assembled didn't feel too bad about their prospects. No one ever does until they start to lose a few bets.
Early first race post, and early last race post guaranteed a short day at the office. Nine races squeezed in between 12:20 to 4:17. As Yogi said, "it gets late early out there."
The two Johns were first on the scene, with the arrival of Bobby G. anticipated, most of all for his company, but also because he promised to wear the swag his friend gave him that grew out of Cassies Dreamer being entered in the Juvenile Filly race on the Friday Breeders' Cup card at Churchill Downs.
A custom Cassies Dreamer hat and a Breeders' Cup windbreaker were sported by Bobby G. The windbreaker has the Breeders' Cup logo for the 35th running on the left, and Cassies Dreamer's name stitched into the fabric on the right. The hat has a fleur-de-lis symbol on the bill, with other gold touches. Both hat and windbreaker were royal purple. The sport of kings.
It was nice to see Cassies Dreamer's name spelled without an apostrophe. I've always said, how do you pronounce an apostrophe anyway? Breeders' Cup of course has stayed with it. Bobby G. was talked into posing for a cell phone photo. After all, living vicariously through his friend's ownership has to have some reward for the rest of us.
The tales coming out of Bobby G's friend's attendance at the Breeders' Cup proved we do have a vicarious ownership of Cassies Dreamer.
She's going to spend the summer being trained at Ocala training center by Barclay Tagg. She may be tried on the turf, but basically look for her to start down in Florida at Gulfstream as a 3-year-old.
Bobby told us that someone who he didn't know offered his buddy $350,000 for the horse. The offer was turned down. Richie is like Rick in Casablanca, turning down all sums of money from Victor Lazlo for the Letters of Transit in order to get out of Casablanca.
Bob, the offsite stable manager and consigliere for the Pressman stable, further told us Richie went 50% with Rusty Jones in buying a yearling colt, as yet unnamed. Since January 1st is every horse's birthday, the unnamed colt will be a 2-year-old next year, and when the name is known we will know. Tickler file at the ready. Expect a Florida appearance as well, trained by Barclay Tagg. Love it.
I can only imagine that being at a Breeders' Cup as an owner, even a part-owner of an entrant, has to be like be invited to discuss the global economy with world leaders. Everybody's there. A summit meeting of breeders, trainers, jockeys, owners, media and high rollers. No wonder Richie emerged with even part of another horse. The talk has to be fast and furious.
As for Saturday's card at Aqueduct, we knew going into the day that the races were off the turf. Thursday saw the New York area get 6" of wet snow followed by heavy rain. No turf on Friday, but Saturday as well?
NYRA is a bunch of pussies when it comes to running on what turns out to be a less than a firm turf course baked by sun. The 8th Race was the Grade III Red Smith and was supposed to go on the turf at at 13/8 miles. Only the NYRA jurisdiction would pull a Grade III turf race off the turf and run it at the backup distance of 11/8. The race scratched down to 6 horses and was won by a Todd Pletcher trainee, Village King, by the cells on its nostrils over Soglio. Village King was lightly raced, but all on turf, beyond a 2nd start dirt race labeled "heavy" in Argentina last year. Two starts in North America in 2018 saw Village King with no starts beyond a 11/16 mile on the turf. Village King fooled few, and paid $11.80. A Pletcher/Costellano pairing gets looked at.
Even with the other two races pulled off the turf, the card wasn't that bad, although it did run cheap, starting off with a $10,000 claimer. This sparked some down memory lane between the two Johns before Bobby G. got there that 50 years ago Johnny D. remembered the bottom was $5,000 claimers. Johnny M. went back a little further and remembered $3,500 claimers. And they both remembered seeing claimers at Green Mountain Pownal VT. (Bennington County) go for $1,500 in the pp's of the Morning Telegraph.
The football Rooney family bought Green Mountain at some point, ran trotters and dogs there I believe, then folded the place. Never made the trip.
The two Johns clicked with two winners, but the prices were small, and neither ever did get that third winner that usually can spell profit. The day ended with a $30 loss for Johnny D. and a somewhat smaller loss for Johnny M.
Bobby G. arrived a little late and missed the first race at the table. He did however try and make a bet en route on the horse who did win, but was thwarted by no signal on his cell phone service. Traffic held him up. It was an omen.
Frustration set in like cloud cover when the 7th race rolled around, a turfer puller off and run at the backup distance of 1 mile. It was the afternoon's only bomb, and sent the Pick-6 into Carry Over mode for Sunday.
Bobby G. was giving himself internal injuries for not betting Holiday Bonus, the horse who did win at 44-1. The horse had decent form for the turf, but nothing showing on the dirt. The pp's summary box did reveal a first and second in three starts on the dirt, but the races were off the page for the horse who was sporting 19 starts. Bobby G. liked him, but didn't notice the dirt summary. (No one did until after. Amazing how well you do on the eye chart after they cross the wire.) and passed on him.
The overcast day broke into golden sunshine as the afternoon approached sunset. Th unused turf looked golden. The last race was carded for 4:17 and of course finished as the lights went on at the finish line.
I've always loved seeing the lights go on at the finish line as the evening crawls in. In 1971 I went to the races at the track 31 times, going to Aqueduct until the middle of December. The place generates many memories and serves as a bookmark for the passage of time.
When I saw the movie 'A Bronx Tale' and Sonny and his boys are sitting in the seats at Aqueduct and Mush comes bounding down the stairs with his "winner" and Sonny tears up his tickets before the finish because Mush is the kiss of death having picked his horse, and it turns out he is the kiss of death as Sonny's front-runner backs up and fades out of the money...I've sat in those seats.
The subway token pictured above is from the Subway Special, a one stop special train that left 8th Avenue and 40th Street, stopping at Hoyt/Schermerhorn in Brooklyn before pulling into the Aqueduct (North Conduit Avenue) stop on the A Train line. They used the really old cars for the Subway Special. When you descended the stairs at 40th Street by Parsons School of Design you passed under a metal shaped horseshoe for luck.
That always made me laugh. At the flower shop we had what were called "forms" in the shape of wreaths, pillows and hearts for funeral arrangements. Those got used. But also in the cellar was a horseshoe, not for a funeral, but for a store opening or something celebratory that was in the shape of a horseshoe. The ribbon would say Good Luck, but we never got to use it. I always imagined some mobster was going to come in and order one for an opening, but no one ever did order a Good Luck floral arrangement. I wonder where they put that metal arch thing after the service ended. I wonder if it's in the Transit Museum.
I don't remember when the service ended, but OTB was making inroads to on-track attendance. It's hard to believe that the 2nd Breeders' Cup was held at Aqueduct in 1985, before it ever got to Belmont in 1990. The series started as 7 races in 1984 at Hollywood Park.
The Breeders' Cup will likely never return to the New York area at either Aqueduct or Belmont. Rain and cold weather have soured the sponsors on bringing it back to Belmont. And anyway, the infrastructure at Belmont is threadbare. There are no high-end areas like Millionaires Row at Churchill. The Trustees Room is an awkward vestige for its occupants. No luxury suites.
Three Breeders' Cup events have been held at Belmont, the last in 2001. It's not on the schedule for the future either. And forget Aqueduct. Saratoga would have a better chance, but the capacity is small. and it's not enclosed. They are building a high-end venue at the Clubhouse turn, The 1863 Club, that will open in 2019. The drawings make it look like what Churchill has, luxury suites for 30-40 people Corporate all the way. But Saratoga will never be anointed either.
In what should be in the TV Hall of Fame, the late Pete Axthelm and Harvey Pack co-hosted the 1985 Bredders' Cup telecast and started the show off by showing you how you could get to Aqueduct by the Subway Special. They passed under the horseshoe. I remember guys lighting up and smoking on the train. It had several departures each race day, and swore it would get you there in time for the Daily Double, the only exotic bet there was when I started going, and a bet that had to be in 10 minutes before the first race post. Now the odds change after the race starts.
Aqueduct is now dominated by the Resorts World electronic casino, something I've never been interested in. It's been there for years, but they're still building parking lots. Go figure. The place is still a mess of outside construction. We had to walk through the casino to get to the track after parking somewhere near Rockaway Boulevard. But at least the parking was free.
Aqueduct in my mind has always been a better configured track than Belmont. Make a bar bet which track has the longer stretch, Belmont or Aqueduct? Collect when you tell the sucker it's Aqueduct. The sight lines at Aqueduct are better because the track is not truly parallel to the stands. At Belmont you can get blocked by one patron standing up near you to your left.
Sure, Belmont has the mile and a half oval, but that spells awkward starts for anything that's a mile and a quarter, and makes what might be two-turn races one-turn affairs from the chute. I remember mile and quarter races that would start at Belmont on what is now the training track. A one-turn mile and a quarter!
They only lately restored the second turf course at Aqueduct, giving up on the winter racing, inner surface.
Not that NYRA sees any reason to run on the turf courses.