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Belmont Stakes 2013: A View From The Grandstands

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Another Triple Crown race means another installment of the ever-popular AVFTG Series!!

Rob Carr

Let's just get this out of the way upfront: I actually had a really good day at the track. I even made up for my disastrous Preakness performance. An early exacta that paid $159 and change, the Belmont Pick 3, a couple winners in between meant I left with some cash in my pocket. Hooray for me!

I actually arrived in New York on Friday. I drank a significant amount of beer and ate some delicious food. I then woke up on Saturday. That sums up my first day in the City. Moving on...

Last year at the Belmont was my first time there for any race at all. Despite finding out that I'll Have Another had scratched while in the airport en route to New York, I still had a great time and it was an amazing experience. This year was an entirely different environment. Ironically, NYRA seemed better equipped to handle a huge crowd, which is odd considering the expected attendance was so much lower. Nice work, Bloomberg. (For the record, it's actually pretty funny to blame anything and everything that ever goes wrong on Mayor Bloomberg. Especially if you're not even actually in NYC.) But last year, with 100k people expected, THERE WAS ONE SINGLE TICKET WINDOW OPEN AT THE MAIN GATE TO SCAN TICKETS. ONE.


How many were open this year? All of them. Seriously NYRA? Let's take a look at the math:

One window per 100k in 2012 = Nice work, Bloomberg.

Eight windows per 47k in 2013 = one window per 6k = No, seriously, good job NYRA.

Even with the additional security, which mostly consisted of NYPD that weren't openly ogling many of the female patrons this year, the entrance into the grandstands was easy and quick. But we quickly made our way to our seats and I proceeded to cash a really nice exacta. Therefore drinks were on me, apparently. But after a $25 ¼ bottle of champagne, (thanks, Mrs. Tribe) that well ran dry.

Speaking of drinks, I had to drive to the Derby, so one Woodford was all that was on the menu for me. But here in NYC? Trains, baby, trains. However, when I pointed out that it was nice to not have to worry about our mode of transportation being up on blocks this time around, it was pointed out that this was basically still Queens, and the train was just sitting there...

I can honestly say that the card on Saturday was absolutely fantastic. It was also really tough, especially since the dirt was drying out. There is no doubt that speed was holding better as the day went on, Fast Bullet proved that (Hey, by the way, what a killer Best Bet of the day for me, eh? I gave out the 1st and 2nd and my longshot was 3rd /reaches for apple and polishes it on lapel).

Surprisingly, I had a great day handicapping, which is not the norm. Aced the True North, had the winner in the Just a Game, the missus had Forty Tales in the Woody Stephens, Point of Entry was easy in the Manhattan, and in the Belmont Incognito was a game 4th while my wife once again hit Oxbow hard. So all in all a quality day.

Amazing things happen in Elmont though:

  • Holy crap Tom Hammond looks like a ghost in person.
  • Lafit Pincay is tiny. Even when on the track like 200 yards away, he is itty bitty.
  • The Belmont Breeze is damn delicious. Though they cheaped out this year with plastic glasses. Way to go, Bloomberg.
  • Apparently it is completely legal for individuals to privately sell drinks in the stands/hock knock off hats in the stands/vomit everywhere in the stands/completely miss the point with seersucker.
  • Seriously, there was a guy making mint juleps in front of me.
  • No really, mint juleps in nice glasses with like two handfuls of mint.
  • The NYRA security guards tended to use the metal detector wand just a bit longer on the girls in the nice dresses. Creepy.
  • I got a free TVG hat!
  • However, that hat was handed out by a girl dressed like a poorly appointed jock. She kept saying, "I got the goods." Not as excited about my TVG hat now.
  • I gave out the super. Twice!
  • I bet the super zero times. Terribad.
  • NYRA betting machines only take vouchers. Why? C'mon Bloomberg!
  • It never gets old when at major racing events you still have the guys losing their minds over the 3rd at Presque Isle Downs.
  • Point of Entry is really good. Hopefully we see him at full strength again sooner rather than later.

So when putting together my Pick 3 ticket, my buddy (from henceforth until forever he'll simply be referred to as "Buddy") Buddy and I were going through the Belmont trying to figure how deep we were going go to. He was insistent on including Optimizer in the Manhattan. I talked him out of it all the while referencing Wise Dan in the WRTC. We already went 3 deep in the Woody Stephens to get Forty Tales, but the single in the Manhattan let us include Palace Malice. Funny how things work out.

But it gets worse. Stephanie's Kitten was an easy single and my choice to win, so there's the P4, had I played it. My top pick of the day was the 1-Justin Philip/1A-Fast bullet in the True North and Power Broker was clearly the classiest of the bunch in the Easy Goer. So there's the Pick 6: easy to get to from the P3 once we had already found the two prices. But it ALWAYS seems easy in retrospect.

Now the question is how did we get to Palace Malice? Well, honestly I never EVER would have picked him, even looking back on it. But when you looked at how the track seemed to be playing as it dried out, the Woody Stephens being the best example where it was just a merry-go-round, we found it hard to exclude a horse that was sure to be near but not on the lead. So basically we tossed him in since we singled POE and just got really lucky. Yay Belmont!

I thought my next event was going to be the Firecracker on the 4th of July, but apparently Churchill is running it on June 29th. Oh well. Looks like it might be awhile until my next race day then.