Oh, it’s still the same old Big A, but there’s more energy here now. For the moment, it might not matter that all those bodies are being routed past what served as the clubhouse entrance to the racetrack.
But they filed passed the track and the Holidayfest racing program, bumper to bumper from North Conduit Ave, the service road of the Belt Parkway and, on a Saturday morning from 10:30 a.m. to about 1 o’clock, on their way to play electronic games at spiffy new World Resorts Casino New York City.
And there was a second line, coming from the direction of the expansive JFK short and long term parking fields that line the Southern portion of Conduit Ave. toward Long Island, that merged into one, keeping the auto conga line moving, albeit very slowly.
It was a little bizarre for someone who grew up on those grounds in a lot of ways. One of my press box colleagues says it’s like going from Frontier World to Future World.
The only signage I saw read Resorts World Casino New York City, including the one at the main entrance as you enter the south parking lot. The Big A is now the Little A compared to its new attached-at the-hip neighbor.
The Turf Club entrance is on the ground floor, of course, and leads to the labyrinthine bowels of the Big A--all this in search of a press box elevator.
But after all that, the important part, the racing, was very good; with one eye on the track below and the other on the closed-circuit monitor for Part 2 of Churchill Downs’ Stars of Tomorrow program--all babies all the time and a dozen full fields of them.
It was a day on which an obviously talented juvenile miss with great heart, Disposablepleasure ran a remarkable race to win the Demoiselle, Awesome Feather remained perfect at 8-for-8 to win the Grade 1 Gazelle at 9 furlongs.
And it was the day To Honor And Serve became a man, winning the G1 Cigar Mile in one-thirty-three and change to give fans something to look forward to--his 4-year-old campaign.
THAS will be a horse for a few months on the farm, likely bypass the Gulfstream racing season to prepare for what I hope is an appearance in the Met Mile and the colt’s second Grade 1 victory on his hopeful way to several more.
Disposablepleasure is a cinch to follow a path designed by Todd Pletcher to reach the Kentucky Oaks at top. She’ll train with all the other best beasts of the east at Palm Meadows.
Awesome Pleasure will attempt to go 9-for-9 as the house horse on the Sunshine Millions program, Frank Stronach continuing to seek a return on his sizable investment in last year’s juvenile filly champion.
What better place than at a track he owns? Stronach knows what it's like to be in the casino business, too, a world he's still interested in expanding. New York racing is getting its first taste of this new Thoroughbred reality.