He shoots and edits his own videos. Put a guitar in hands, and he’ll churn out a toe-tapping, folksy tune in short order. He can turn a phrase with the best of them. The man makes Henny Youngman (in his prime) look positively slow-witted by comparison.
Ernie Munick is a genius.
And now, for the first time in over 20 years, his genius will be available to racing fans on a weekly basis. Munick, a onetime writer for the New York Daily News, makes his debut on NYRA’s new television show, “The NYRA Network Presents Raceday,” beginning today. Though he never left the sport completely - often setting up shop near the paddock on major race days, guitar in tow - “Raceday” will serve as his first regular racing engagement since George H.W. Bush occupied the Oval Office.
“I'm extremely excited and extremely nervous,” Munick told Horse Racing Nation. “Not about the new show; I'm just always extremely excited and extremely nervous.”
Those who know him know just how “Ernie” that comment is. If excitement and nervousness were a tradable commodity, Munick would own enough of it to buy Google six times over. He instantly livens any setting he enters. During his few television appearances over the past two decades, Munick’s palpable energy radiated on - and through - the television screen.
Now, NYRA is hoping Munick will bring that energy every Monday and Tuesday from noon to 6 p.m. Munick will be part of a rotating cast of characters that will include; “Talking Horses” personality Andy Serling, Aqueduct track announcer John Imbriale, and retired jockey Richard Migliore - also new to NYRA.
As to what we can expect on “Raceday,” Munick is predictably coy.
“Beu-LUH! Beu-LUH! Beu-LUH!” Munick chanted, making like a ‘Bleacher Creature.’ “(Today) we'll be showing Beulah, Parx, and Fair Grounds, so we'll be intensely prepared for their races. Amid those responsibilities, ’Raceday’ will look forward or back or sideways, a veritable monsoon of horsetalk and handicapping.”
To hear Munick tell it, you would think the viewer is in for a typical, run-of-the-mill, ordinary handcapping fest. But the regular readers of his column, viewers of his video blogs, and patrons of his regular paddock music gigs know that this couldn’t be further from the truth. With the possible exception of “supermodel,” you probably couldn’t find two words that describe Munick any less accurately than “typical” and “ordinary.”
All the better for us.
Some good news to report on a horrible spill during yesterday’s ninth race. The six-furlong race for 3 year-old New York-Bred maiden claimers was marred by the breakdown of Honor Ernesto, who, at the time of his injury, was leading the race. His breakdown caused a chain reaction.
All told, the spill affected four jockeys. Abel Lezcano and Nazario Alverado were able to walk off the track under their own power. Apprentices Brian Pedroza, and Charlie Amaro, on the other hand, were taken to the hospital. X-rays were negative, and neither man was held overnight. Amaro hopes to resume riding on Wednesday. Pedroza, however, is planning on taking two weeks off as a result of his injuries.
Honor Ernesto fractured both front legs and had to be euthanized. The other horses involved; Trinity Warrior, Soft Parade, and Rightuplynn’salley were all safely corralled by the outrider.
Anyone who viewed this spill knows just how good this news is. At first glance, it certainly appeared as though the damage could’ve been a whole lot greater.
No official word has yet been given as to the delayed opening of the Aqueduct casino. The target date, for now, remains Memorial Day (at least, publicly). If a construction mishap that occurred this past Friday is any indication, however, expect to see that date pushed back in short order.
The incident occurred down the hall from the racing office. A busted water pipe resulted in a flood that was stopped only by the shutting off of water to nearly the entire building. A dozen members of the construction crew scrambled to fix the problem, and eventually did. But not before much of the ceiling in the affected area became exposed.
Such accidents happen routinely on construction projects of any scale, let alone one as ambitious as the Aqueduct casino project. Still, Friday’s accident cannot be viewed as a positive development in the race to get the racino operational.
In an effort to give the construction crew more time, Aqueduct will be temporarily closed for morning training. All this week, the roughly 350 horses that are stabled at the Big A will be moved to Belmont. The move is scheduled to be completed by Friday. This will enable construction to take place through the early morning hours. Training had previously taken place every morning from 5:30 to 9:00.
The backstretch is scheduled to be reopened on April 4th. As it pertains to this project, though, one would be wise not to carve out any dates in stone.