So that was a whole much ado about... something...
My third year in a row attending the Belmont Stakes, and first potential Triple Crown winner, so it was an eventful day.
While the Belmont track is huge, 103,222+ people is well over double a normal year. And the place really was worse for wear, as the facilities kind of resembled a post-apocalyptic wasteland after the race. Although if I were paying $10 for a Coors Light (which I refused to do on principle), I might be inclined to make a mess as well.
As for the races, it was a pretty frustrating day of handicapping (even for the more experienced handicappers in our group), as nearly every race seemed to some have a long shot that screwed up my exacta box.
I don't really know what to say about the Stakes race. The buzz was that California Chrome wasn't going to win it, but few people wanted to admit that as they really wanted to be a part of a historical event. Listening to those 100k+ people simultaneously deflate as it become clear the horse didn't win was a... unique sound. And it was pretty funny to see the $15 California Chrome t-shirts drop down to $2 on the way out.
Really disappointed in Steve Coburn's comments after the race and even this morning on Good Morning America. Chrome got beat fair and square, and guess what Steve? Horses have skipped the first two legs of a Triple Crown before and rested for the Belmont. Birdstone did it in '04 when he beat Smarty Jones and there wasn't nearly the uproar then that there is today. There's no rule saying what Tonalist's owner/trainer did was wrong, and there never should be.
One other thing, I was surprised to see how unprepared Belmont park and the LIRR were for such a huge race. I was one of the lucky few who were able to get the first train to and from the park for the event, but I've heard horror stories this morning about people being left for hours on the platform or stranded in the parking lot. And agreed about the bathrooms...they were a warzone after about the 8th race. I'm just glad my hometrack of Saratoga has their act together.
Originally posted by jerichofan717Birdstone did it in '04 when he beat Smarty Jones and there wasn't nearly the uproar then that there is today. There's no rule saying what Tonalist's owner/trainer did was wrong, and there never should be.
My recollection is that Birdstone and Marylou Whitney were actively boo'd at the track when they beat Smarty Jones... but it was a long time ago so that may just be my bad memory.
I think, rightly or wrongly, Coburn feels disrespected and is lashing out a bit. He really wasn't welcomed by racing in general, the handicappers all gave him a laughing chance (both the Newsday and program handicappers all but called it a sucker's bet), and he felt that there were little slights along the way that were insulting to someone who had brought a lot of attention and, thus, a lot of money to this event. Again, some of that maybe invented on his part (some of it not, as there seem to be a lot of 'go back to your factory job' talk in the papers this morning), but I think it's how he felt.
And agreed about the bathrooms...they were a warzone after about the 8th race.
I've in Suffolk county, and we got home in 45 minutes.
We left after the 12th race, and the whole places was a disaster - the concessions area, the lawn area, etc. You couldn't leave the park with out accidentally kicking a few beer cans around. In fairness, I think having 100,000 people show up anywhere is a monumental task that's easy to underestimate. And I'm still trying to understand the kind of person that shows up to an event like this in order to get plastered on $10 cans of cheap beer. We saw one fight, a couple of ushers getting screamed at for simply doing their jobs, etc.
I really need to get to Saratoga. I've heard nothing but great things.
Highlight of the night for me was Sanchez riding Alessio's back for three and a half minutes, with Alessio stuffing everything Sanchez tried. That was just an amazing show of endurance, skill, defense, and heart.