Photo: Eclipse Sportswire - Sue Kawczynski
I made a
visual judgment while standing on the subway platform in the gritty bowels of
Penn Station. An announcement said I needed to change trains and then get back
on the original train just to get to the track. Looking at these two guys I
said to myself, “those boys are going to Aqueduct.” I asked and I was right.
They told me to follow them and they took me under their wing and got me
through the hard parts all the way to the track.
that there was no snow on the ground. The trees were budding, and across from
the Big A subway stop, boys played baseball. Jerry and Dave kept me company
with stories of the glory days of Aqueduct on the way out. We talked harness
racing, and I was told of an express train that used to run right out to the
track from Manhattan. And they got me there well before the first race. Thanks
Jersey guys-Jerry and Dave.
concrete path lined with pretty cloth flowers (?), I stepped into the track and
started to get the lay of the land. With half hour to go before the first race,
I bought a huge cup of mac and cheese from the New York Mac and Cheese truck and sat on a bench eating and making
my picks. Going with a horse called Joking, I did my usual across the broad bet
and went to the rail. He placed after a huge back of the pack charge from Real Estate Rich. I collected eight bucks.
thing I noticed was how nice the NYRA staff was from the women who sold me my
winning tickets to the guy who passed out the tan and teal Wood Memorial hats. I didn't expect that. Aqueduct itself is tired, but functional and in that tired old place we zipped
into the second race, where I hit with Reggie D. who paid $12.40. I hit the
third with Sokitumi Samurai paying another $13.90. I was on fire at the Big A.
The fourth race was won by Upward and I had him for $10.40. And in the fifth I scored big with Chilton giving me $20.40
The sixth, I
got smoked by a 74 to 1 shot, Sea to Sky that paid a little over $150.00. I picked up a place and show for a few dollars
more and that was it for me, except for the bitter disappointment that followed
in the Wood.
What I have
decided to leave out of this story until now, was the fact that I had drunk so
much of the Kool Aid on Social Inclusion that there was disenchantment in my
future. For the final time I trudge down the stairs to the paddock (ugh my
knees) and there he was tall and red, it was Social Inclusion. The New York superstar
Samraat was being saddled as well a few stalls away. The paddock was full of
whispers as if folks were waiting for the bride to come down the aisle. I
thought I should have boxed the Samraat-Social Inclusion exacta. As it turned
out, I was right about not betting that exacta and wrong about Social Inclusion. He was frothy, spooked and nervous. His lack of experience showed and
there are now questions about going a mile and 1/8 or longer because Wicked Strong
came down from the outside strongly and shocked a lot of people at Aqueduct
including me. I had a Kool Aid hangover.
I found the world friendly and excited about
horse racing there. I collected a majority of my bets and I found Aqueduct
adequate and clean although some of the seats are old and some of the façade paint
is peeling like bells. And in spite of itself, the place was crowded and came
alive in ways that only New York can do. New York is still charged up about
Samraat and I may jump on his band wagon, who knows. And do I think we’ll see
Social Inclusion again in the Preakness, so pass me that glass of Kool Aid again.
Thanks NYRA and NYC for a great show. Riders Up