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PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2015 10:53 am 
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TO: TJ; Madelyn; Joltman; Patuxent and others who responded to my request for tips on enjoying Belmont -

TRANSPORTATION: The LIRR [Long Island RR] recommendation was spot on - definitely the way to go! A special 'Belmont' train had been added to the regular LIRR schedule that took us from Penn Station to the Belmont station where you can walk right into to the Belmont Race Track facility. [TIP: The LIRR adds similar trains/special package ticket pricing for the Mets home games and for weekend packages to stops further out Long Island/Montauk for fall travel/wine tasting, etc.] The 'Belmont' train stops to take on/let off passengers at Woodside, Jamaica and maybe one other station stop before it arrives at Belmont but it still only took 45 minutes and was clean, easy, comfortable and the real bargain of our trip at $14 pp/RT (!) It was fun for us as 'out of towners' (from a state known for it's wide open spaces and urban sprawl) to experience a slice of the New Yorkers' commuting experience without the crowding, rushing and purposeful tension of a work day. (The one we took back to Manhattan - we had to change trains in Jamaica but that was an easy enough thing to do and again gave us a taste of what it's like to live and work in the city as a commuter)
Bonus fun was to be on a train loaded with other horse racing fans. The owner of one of the day's stakes entrants who had been 'just' beat in the Beverly D earlier was on board seated a few rows ahead of the car we were on. He shared a lot of 'inside' stories as an owner with fellow fans from New Jersey and New York and invited them to come down to the winner's circle if his horse won - so it was a convivial crowd.

BELMONT RACE TRACK/FACILITY: It's huge - I mean HUGE (!). I can readily appreciate that it can handle a Belmont Stakes Day crowd of 80,000 to 100,000+ The famous paddock area was beautiful and more spacious out than I had visualized. I got a photo standing at the rail with the iconic Belmont pine tree behind me (and during a momentary lull in the wind so no hair obscuring my face!). Due to Hurricane Joaquin's influences - even though some distance to the south giving the Bahamas and South Carolina heck - the weather was a bit tough to take on Jockey Gold Cup Day and that left this huge grand facility seeming cavernous, chill and largely empty of fans. It was no doubt a good deal less crowded than usual and I'm sure fan turnout/handle on site was disappointing for such a great line up of horses/trainers/jockeys with the 6 major stakes one month out from Breeders' Cup Day. Apparently even hardy New Yorkers elected not to come out to see the races and the few who did join us - the 'out of towners' - were not spending any time outside in the chilly wind tunnel 'Joltman' so aptly warned of. When we purchased our box seats we were told only a few boxes remained but throughout the day there was almost no patrons at all in the grandstand's box seating/grandstand seating area! A lot of hot chocolate and coffee was being sold at the concession counters and almost no beer or 'cold' drinks - fans just wanted to hold something hot to keep their hands warm!

THE HORSES/THE RACING: Made a couple of winning/paying bets - loved it when Slim Shadey won his race (prior to the day's stakes program)! Should have bet 'Made In Detroit' as my "swami" bet - I was born in Detroit afterall! Was disappointed by Curvy; was not disappointed in Honor Code - he ran his race; but a closer needs pace to close into in order to be successful so just took in his signature, long striding, huge effort in the stretch knowing he couldn't get it done this day. A few minutes later caught a glimpse of him, muddied, unsaddled and blanket cloth removed before being led away looking intently with his head up and ears pricked at the winner's circle as if quite certain a mistake had been made! Linda Rice trained Son of a General was impressive under J L Ortiz in his very close second. Also impressive to watch were Danza Cavallo(Fr) and Nickname, She's All Ready.

And this lasting memory from the first race of the day: I watched J L Ortiz give his horse, Basic Hero, in his second lifetime out a masterful 'schooling' ride. This chestnut had caught my eye in the saddling enclosure/paddock area - a bit keen, he was clearly 'on the muscle'; a tightly coiled spring, all bouncy and "looky looky" in the saddling enclosure...in other words "young and experienced". Per the program, he had finished lengths back in a his maiden at Saratoga while setting fast early fractions. In this race Ortiz got him a great start, shooting out of the gate from 6th post, racing ahead of the others, and then masterfully 'persuaded' the young horse to settle - without 'halting" or "fighting him for the bit'. It took some patient masterful riding AND some time and energy before Basic Hero paid attention and relaxed. He led into the stretch but the lesson at Belmont is that it is a 'long stretch' to the finish. Basic Hero was overtaken in the final furlong but had a great experience under Ortiz's direction: the advantages of a great start, getting settled on the lead, no mud in his face, and then learning - as he got passed first on the outside and then on the inside how much more he needed to keep/have in reserve for the finish in a 6 1/2 furlong sprint race of this caliber. He may have learned to listen and to 'trust' his jockey. The horse did not quit in the final furlong even though passed, he was tired but still showed interest and effort...and I think he'll come out of this race wiser, more fit and not soured for the experience. Also met and had a nice conversation with equine acupuncturist Nan Miller while watching the Keeneland simulcast and awaiting the Champagne Stakes post parade and race, in which she had a client horse starting. Overall I lost more than I won - what else is new - and could not get my fancy phone to cooperate so I did not get any selections down in the NBC Breeders' Cup Fantasy Game - and I bought a Belmont T-shirt that I'll wear proudly at the barn when tending to my now 29 year old thoroughbred brood mare back home!

FOOD: We went into a glass enclosed bar/food area called the Heritage Room, containing a square bar and food concessions along the wall. Enjoyed a "Furlong Dog" with chili and cheese and onions (the concessions staff kindly indulged this Texan by chopping the onion when faced with what was obviously a dubious request, especially when requested in lieu of the proffered 'relish'). It was warm, tasted OK for track concession food and was served graciously...providentially accompanied with plenty of napkins. I DID NOT order/can't hazard a guess as whata food item called: "Irish Nachos"!?!?!?...could possibally be? What?! Maybe potato chips topped with melted Irish Cheddar and...a chunk of sauteed bell pepper??? [Reminds me of when taken to the new, local favorite "Mexican" restaurant while visiting relatives in Kalamazoo - so popular we had to wait in the bar for over 45 minutes to get a seat - so I ordered their 'classic Margarita' - having to explain first that 'NO - I did not want it frozen'....and then being in total shock when I was presented with a tall "blue" cocktail!!]

FACILITY STAFF - everywhere we went the staff were gracious and appreciative. As we rode a taxi out of Manhattan Sunday afternoon towards LaGardia to fly home the sun was - finally - shining, the air warm with a ever so slight crisp coolness to it in the shade - every street and park was full of people and children relaxing/playing/exercising and doing what New Yorkers do - moving, always moving. I can well imagine that Belmont in that scenario would be a grand, festive and fun place to spend a day among friends and fellow fans alike trying to handicap the next race and then cheering your pick home from where ever you had seats/chose to stand and watch.

I hope to return and get to experience that Belmont! Again, thanks everyone that lent me your tips and experience to ensure a good time was had at Belmont. I proved to be a typical first time starter - not fully, properly dressed for the weather and conditions but not totally unprepared thanks to your input and I will be back for a second "out" with a better appreciation of how to go about getting to/dressing for, moving about and thoroughly enjoying this beautiful and historic American track.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2015 1:55 pm 
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Darley line
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Hi Jellac,
Glad you enjoyed your experience and you and yours had a safe trip. TJ


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2015 3:37 pm 
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:) Sounds just GREAT. Glad you liked the train.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2015 10:02 am 
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Thanks for telling us about it, Jellac, I hope I get to go some day.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2015 4:39 pm 
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Great stuff - sometimes the fall days there are really beautiful. Worth holding another BC maybe? Beats SA.

jm

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