How About Preps for Belmont Fall Three-Year-Olds?
ELMONT, NY, September 27, 2016 – In 1971, Philadelphia mayor James Tate unexpectedly resigned from his third term and appointed Police Commissioner Frank Rizzo as his replacement. Many questioned the legality of the move but no one legally challenged it.
Rizzo had the reputation of being a notorious cop who left a brutal legacy. Like George Wallace before him and now Donald Trump, Rizzo preyed on white working-class fears of the city's rising violent crime rate and made no bones about his racist distaste for blacks.
"Just wait after November, you'll have a front row seat because I'm going to make Attila the Hun look like a faggot," he said of his enemies during his 1975 re-election bid.
Another move of Rizzo's was to increase taxes. So much so that Thoroughbred racing pulled out of Liberty Bell Park and Keystone Race Track was quickly constructed on the site of a pig farm in Bensalem Township, just north of the city line about 3 miles from where Liberty Bell once stood.
Keystone opened in November of 1974 with all the charm of a strip mall. In fact, because of the large “K” attached to the grandstand, many people dubbed it the K-Mart of racing.
Now renamed Parx Casino and Racing, the track was the site of last weekend's major Thoroughbred races, including the Pennsylvania Derby and Cotillion Stakes of course, the latter a hold-over from Liberty Bell.
But here’s a question: How can a second-tier track eclipse racing at Belmont Park? The answer is that the New York Racing association offers no races for 3-year-olds of either sex on dirt at its Belmont fall meeting.
Now that's a serious hole in the NYRA's stakes schedule.
The Dog Days of Belmont Fall
ELMONT, NY, September 13, 2016 – My friend and colleague, the late Bill Leggett, a multiple Eclipse Award winning turf writer while at Sports Illustrated--when racing was still considered mainstream--had a theory that turnstiles didn’t go far enough.
What was lacking, Leggett thought, was that the counter lacked a mechanism that would flip customers over to empty their pockets before sending him back out the same way he came in, thereby eliminating the parimutuel middle man.
When he made that comment Leggett was referring to the turnstiles at Belmont Park. My snarky reply was “NYRA won't be happy until no one comes.”
Leggett’s theory and my reaction were made during a different era, under a different NYRA regime. However, it came only 10 years after the New York Racing Association opened its new Arthur Froehlich-designed building in 1968.
If you attended opening day at Belmont Park last Friday, you could have witnessed for yourself that NYRA appears to be closer to reaching the goal of zero than it ever has in its history.
While Leggett's prophecy is close to reaching fruition downstate, the exception continues to be in Leggett’s hometown of Saratoga Springs.