OLD WORLD COMES UP WITH DIFFERENT LOOKS TO ATTRACT NEW FANS AND PLAYERS

What a difference a week makes in this game. Last week was all about Americana, a.k.a. Kentucky Derby, which featured a dramatic stretch battle between two well matched three-year-olds. Even lyric-less, that song can still do it to you.

This week, starting with the Irish Champions Day at 10 am on FS-2, to the start of the All-Stakes Pick 5 from Kentucky Downs at 4:27 pm on TVG, to the oldest continually run stakes in North America, Woodbine’s Queens Plate, at 5:49 pm, American fans were treated to riveting international racing.

American racing television production can learn a lot from the international set, especially if the idea is to attract not only a younger demographic but also making horse racing fans out of people who admire athleticism in the Thoroughbred.

There’s plenty wrong in this business but watching majestic equines run isn’t one of them. Veteran horseplayers set in their ways are going to hate how I envision what the future of racing broadcasts should like like. But people like us have had our day.

The FS-2 broadcast was made possible by the New York Racing Association as a promotional vehicle for NYRABets.com, the company’s advance deposit wagering platform. They are getting more aggressive in this area and its paying dividends, at least as far as production values are concerned.

There’s nothing like competition to raise the competitor’s game. NYRA’s partnering with Churchill Downs earlier this year to bring both tracks over various third-party platforms, the most significant being the YouTube Channel made strategic sense.

HorseRaceInsider is not choosing sides in a battle of networks between the new alliance with national racing network TVG. Our agenda is trying to do our best for the player.

However, we’re of the opinion that the Saratoga-Churchill TV merger resulted in a products, when shown in tandem, was more compelling than anything being offered simultaneously on TVG, international racing notwithstanding.

This observation based on talent personalities. There’s plenty of professionalism at both networks. Neither one corners the market on annoying individuals, even if the fawning and equivocating, particularly at TVG, can be maddening at times.

I prefer the “NYRA Live” programming because it covers fewer races in greater, better-paced detail–their model as opposed to TVG’s “Trackside Live” that tries to show virtually every race from every conceivable venue. On balance, they do that well.

Watching “Racing from Leopardstown, Irish Champions Weekend” with a second cup of coffee set a great tone for a Saturday warrior.

Following an introduction from Belmont Park-based Acacia Courtney, the host threw the program over to the European broadcast team that was familiar but with a fresh look for American viewers.

We’re not used to frank commentary and warranted critiques of horsemen, trainers and riders, especially when it came to tactics or execution. This is not to say that some provincial pride didn’t leap over the top, but this is television after all.

And there can be no broadcast without access.

The open of the show featured some exquisite B-roll, the same elements that American fans are used to but presented in a more sophisticated manner that didn’t speak down to the audience.

After a short opening montage came a musical interlude where presumably an original song entitled “I Found You”, a kind of soft-rock horse racing anthem, strings and all, told the story of someone looking for passion and found it in horse racing. Now there’s a thought.

The racing was top class, as one would expect, and the featured Gr. 1 Champion Stakes actually soared above the pre-race hyperbole surrounding “the world’s highest-rated horse,” 8-15 favorite Ghaiyyath, was upset by Magical, the accomplished mare with which Breeders’ Cup fans are quite familiar.

She hounded him throughout, going head to boot all the way around as if to set the table for perfect tripping mate Japan who could not keep up with the fast pace and tired as Magical resolutely wore down the Godolphin favorite who gave no quarter, but could not hold the well-travelled mare safe.

Magical, along with Champers Elysees, former champion rider Johnny Murtaugh’s who won three runnings of the Gr. 1 Matron, took his first Gr. 1 win as a trainer, and well named, high class Cadillac won the Gr. 2 Juvenile have won the way into the Breeders’ Cup should they connections decide.

European coverage provided camera angles that are unfamiliar to show-me-pan-only Americans that convey a sense of excitement that one-camera coverage cannot. It breath-taking, really, at once conveying beauty and excitement. There is no better example to show the heart of the Thoroughbred.

Along with the occasional low-flying drone aerial view is our favorite, the ground-level camera that zooms in on the horses in the late stages of a race that continues on the gallop-out, a view that can turn animal lovers into horse racing fans.

There are several camera switches at Kentucky Downs owing to the odd configuration. I still can’t get over what can best be described as a head-on view of the straightaway in the middle of the turn for home. The final switch catches the horses as they use a slight dip past midstretch that provides momentum for continuing their uphill journey to the finish.

Finally, north of the border, Josie Carroll gave a pretty good imitation of Chad Brown, if you believe turf and synthetic racing are comparable. Carroll not only won her third straight Queen’s Plate with Mighty Heart and completed the exacta with the maiden Belichick.

Mighty Heart was mighty good on Saturday’s speed-favoring synth over which three of five races were won on the engine and no winner came from father back than third. The 7-1/4 length win in 2:01.98 missed the track standard by .47 seconds.

Horseplayers are a crusty bunch whose default is to complain first, be objective later. But wouldn’t it be better if the sport had some new fans, a different kind of demographic that very much likes what it sees? Wouldn’t it be better to have some new blood in the water? Love the horse; love the game.

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55 Responses

  1. Nice writeup, and hard to argue with it. I find the FS/MSG product clearly superior to TVG, even putting aside the fact that they have the NYRA races. I think in general, their on air talent has more to offer. The two hosts are both very solid, Andy Serling and Jonathan Kinchen are entertaining and provide quality insight, as does Richard Migliore, and Maggie with the paddock reports really gives fantastic information that is extremely useful to have. I do wish they didn’t constantly shift everyone around mid-card though, but that’s just a small gripe.

    Not related directly to your article, but I have long thought that a good way to juice up the on-track aspect would be to offer slightly better payouts live vs online, in the same way the track used to pay out better than NYC and Nassau OTB. Through use of the on track NYRA wifi, bettors could still use online NYRA Bets betting account access while at the track and still receive the bonus. Perhaps try it at Belmont Spring 2021, where you have a beautiful track that makes for a very pleasant day. If you don’t want to have it for Aqueduct, I get it. And Saratoga wouldn’t even be necessary since it’s packed daily and is a few hours from NYRA’s everyday base.

    1. Fram, a bunch of us from the press box used to make the trip once a year during the Saratoga meet. I remember a long dark one- lane road to get there, about an hour for the night card, a little more, we’d pool some money and have some fun. Quaint little place, as you would expect. Just another little piece of sadness to emerge this frightful year…

  2. All reasonable observations and requests, Doc. When Cary Fotias was still with us–miss him every day–he wrote a guest column on HRI–must be seven years ago now, that NYRA could offer on-track rebates on NYRA races if they opened a special window to redeem ticket, an on-site rebate.

    But first things first; need to see when people will be allowed on track. By no means do I think that 2021 semblance of normalcy will happen. On record with people four months ago, long before Dr. Fauci blurted hunker-down but, I’m a horseplayer, worst-case-scenario is a default position.

  3. Yeah that is fair. Spring 2021 is probably not realistic, given that even if there is an approved vaccine early in the year, it will take a number of months for enough people to get vaccinated. I would hope the various racing organizations are using this time right now to plan ahead for 2022 or whenever the real return to the new normalcy will be able to happen. No reason to not see some innovative stuff come out.

    1. Not unreasonable at all. But sorry to be cynical but Thoroughbred racing and innovation, when used in the same sentence, is an oxymoron, is it not?

  4. John: Excellent observations about the NYRA/Fox production. Also, the Euros do seem to have found some very interesting camera angles, and their broadcast is very enjoyable. However, with all due respect to Andy, Richie and crew, I would take a TV show with Mr. Pack and Mr. Pricci, any day of the week. There was never a Thoroughbred Action show with both of you that I didn’t learn something. Alas, poor Yorick, those days are gone forever. I would also like to give an Honorable Mention to the old Channel 9 show-if there were ever two better Horse Racing communicators, than Frank I. Wright and/or Charlsie Cantey, such persons have not yet appeared.
    One other thing John, while I appreciate that you would prefer not to take sides in this NYRA/TVG war, I have no such misgivings. Not only do I believe that the NYRA/ Fox production is superior to TVG, any New Yorker has to root for NYRA to “Win” the war. In this regard, wagering by NY residents, through NYRAbets, returns the most money to New York thoroughbred racing. Moreover, wagering through any other ADW ( TVG, Xpressbet, Twin Spires, etc), merely enhances the bottom line of corporations that do not favor NY racing in any meaningful manner. John, reforming the enitre ADW economic system should have been done 10-20 years ago. At this juncture in history, racing cannot survive for much longer without radical restructuring of the ADW economic model.

  5. John, I just wanted to give you a heads up – I’m sorry, this has nothing to do with this post.

    Honor A.P. suffered a tendon injury in the Derby and has been retired. As you can imagine, I’m devastated. I always felt he was special – and now I know he was – running that well on on injured leg is remarkable. The wind has been taken out of my sales…….getting attached to horses is rough.

    1. But you can pull for him as a stallion. Street Sense is one of my all-time faves who won DY and then became a great sire. Honor AP will produce li’l HAP’s for you to cheer on. For those of us who don’t know of you, what is your connection to HAP? You really were his greatest fan.

      1. Good point C, and given his pedigree, he’s got a good chance to produce something special. Hollywood Story was a very class race mare.

        Betsy, thought of you when I heard the news… But he’s alive and well.

        My mom and I had a small piece of a horse named Lucky Mathieu, who wasn’t all that lucky. Preparing for a race in Saratoga, he colic’s foundered, and has to be euthanized. Now that’s a tough one!

        1. John, that’s terrible….poor baby. Horses will break your heart……..but, hope springs eternal. I’m trying to think positive. I mean, right now it’s just hard because of all the potential he had …….but, now he gets to hang out with his sire and some other buddies, and Lane’s End is the best; they will take fabulous care of him.

          Hollywood Story is a beautiful mare – much as HAP looks like his sire, he also looks like her.

          Doc, we were just discussing this……brutal is a good word, it’s like a punch in the stomach.

          Here’s hoping a promising colt I love called Creed returns before the end of the season. Wait, maybe Shug should wait until 2021 – 2020 has brought nothing but bad news, lol

      2. C, and I will! I am so grateful that Honor A.P. didn’t break down….

        Ah, I had no connection to him, really. I love the entire Slew/Indy line, and Honor Code is Indy’s last son…….so of course I was rooting hard for him to succeed at stud. Then, I saw HAP in his debut and was just “Wow” – he was stunningly gorgeous. So yeah, I fell in love, lol. Street Sense has done so well – if HAP does equally so, I’ll be thrilled!

        1. All of his wins were with Calvin Bo Rail (Borel) aboard. I’m starting to think Borel belongs in National Racing Hall of Fame. Pretty much stayed in KY so that may be a knock on him, I guess. I have a feeling HAP will do well in his next career. Not up to speed on bloodlines like you but it is a fascinating mystery as to what makes a good runner. Luck must be involved as well, right?

          1. C, I think luck is always involved to some degree, lol. Honor A.P.’s sire is still unproven as a sire, so it’s really hard to say how well HAP will do at stud. He’ll get the chance to succeed, though – Lane’s End is the best.

    2. Wow that’s brutal news – I always wanted to see that horse run at Belmont Park. I felt strongly that he was born to race on it.

  6. I’m afraid you’re right and while I too have a preference, I will stay out of the TV wars. Programming is a very individual taste.

    As for your observation re restructuring, if that model goes on, and fans are not allowed on track, or their racinos aren’t reopened to any meaningful capacity, tracks eventually will run out of purse money…

  7. Really enjoyed reading the article and maybe even more the commentary exchanged after. So proves that this is far more a game of passion for the sport, all participants in it, both equine and human, and not about only cashing tickets. Thanks for pointing out the benefit of using the NYRA AWD more Framarco. I most admit that I had used the Twinspires AWD a bit of late as I fell for the various finish second or third and register to get your wager back promotions. I will concentrate more on NYRABETS going forward. Kind of annoyed me at times anyway, as this week for example they promoted only your first bet straight wager exacta. $1 box exactas were not covered, which then required addional wagers had to be placed if you wanted the bets reversed.

    I like the NYRA coverage more as well. So liked Harvey on the radio and TV back in the day. Had not seen John as often as I would have liked too. Must have been all the six day, ten hours shifts and steel snake LIRR rides in and out that I hustled for years while supporting Proctor & Gamble and Pamper City. I will miss HAP in the upcoming classics Betsy, but on the plus side we will get to view his off spring continue the legacy down the road a couple of years out.

    I was really bummed out watching TRMS show this evening and you all restored my faith in the better angels concept. I got so annoyed, I had to turn the broadcast off with twenty minutes still on the clock. So annoyed I didn’t even hit the DVR record which I now regret. At any rate, I was turning in and jumped on the Google Tablet to see what was doing at HRI. So glad I did, as you have all reset my mindset. No longer enraged and on TILT after watching the latest on the CDC oversight administered by Caputo and company. “Everybody get your guns, and ammunition, yada, yada, from the spokesperson for the CDC?. What happened to America? Any hoot, thank you all, John, Framarco, Betsy Tarr, Dr. D. and c says. Opps, almost forgot my favorite half hour show, Charlsey and Frank on WOR. That half hour, Bless Me Father, was as much a most do as attending Sunday Morning Mass. Peace and Thanks, McD

    1. For all the praise he got, Frank Wright is still underrated for the contributions he made in his intelligent approach to racing broadcasts that set the tone. I would always kid him “Frank, please tell me more about blinkers.”

      Charlsie? Wonderful human being and template for all the women in racing broadcasts to follow, an original, on the ground, at the desk, on horseback.

      We talked fairly recently about if ever on I-95 driving through So Carolina or Florida to hop off and catch up, that’s when car travel was a normal activity.

      Caputo? Inviting insurrection and run out to buy bullets before they run out? WTF is wrong with these people? Is hate and greed so pervasive we have to prepare to kill each other? Thanks God for the distraction that keeps us sane, partially anyway.

    2. Great stuff McD. Yes, the channel 9 nightly racing recaps were pure art. And I loved how the sports guy on the channel 11 news used to give the results of the late double – back when NYC OTB used letters instead of numbers. Can’t remember his name exactly; was it maybe Jerry Girard?

      And John, it must have been an awesome scene back in the day in the press area of the track when all the local papers had people there. Even at Belmont and Aqueduct. And I’m not a harness racing fan, but people speak with such love for the night programs at Roosevelt Raceway.

  8. McD: Think Baffert, Pletcher, Shug, et cetera think the ‘game’ is about having a passion for the sport (ugh!) and not merely for winning purses? Think the thousands of misinformed and lost souls who plunge on the pick five or pick six look at Thoroughbred racing as a passion or about cashing a ticket for thousands of bucks? Just won’drin.

    BTY, the management of every Thoroughbred racetrack in the country could announce that Saturday Authentic is going to workout between the fifth and sixth race at their track and who watching would be able to determine that the three, four, or five year old is not Authentic?

    1. Wendell, I can only speak for my own passion and love of the sport. I recall to this day watching a morning work when Lure passed by in a morning work at Belmont, and I was absolutely captivated and amazed at the beauty of his motion and concentration. All about the business at hand he was. An absolute professional. Funny thing, I wasn’t even aware that it was Lure until I went and asked one of the NYRA officials what the horses name was. I just knew that the intensity on display led me to believe I was watching greatness in motion.

      I suspect Shug, Pletcher and Baffert would all have exited long ago if it was only about the money. Suggest you read some of the late Paul Moran’s work. No one ever captured the passion better.

      I respect your take on cashing tickets, and who doesn’t like cashing ticket. But you need to respect the rest of us as well. Both in our love of the sport, and also the insaneness of ten cent wagers. Sometimes I can place a 40 cent wager just to have an interest. No one looks to get rich on a dime Wendell. Some do it just for the fun of it. The real gambling by the way is not at any racetrack. The easy money to be had if your patient is in precious metals and commodities. I can go 40K on GLD and 40 cents on an SF and never stray far off my comfort zone. We are all wired differently.

      Gotta run, the damn birds are out there stealing my grass seed once more. Riders Up my friend. Riders Up with a hose in hand.

  9. Strange sensation seeing how some of you go so far back in time of nostalgia maybe because we’re younger,healthier,happier and living life in better circumstances , and in my case,watching those programs with my deceased dad and grandparents whose television rituals included Saturday afternoons Wrestling with local and ethnic ” heroes” like Sammartino,Pugliesi and ” bad guys” like the “Sheik” and several other characters created by Mc Manon,the impresario of the circus show. As with all of you,TVG is not even comparable to NYRA s presentation and direction of horseracing.They,TVG, have no time to let the viewer absorb what he/she is watching.Many times they ,outta nowhere,show the start of a race without giving any clues on who is running,at what level,distance,odds with nameless horses and jocks.That is No way to ” run an airline” ,as they used to say.And those juvenile teasing ads? Pleez,stop it ! Too many tracks races and not enough info.Only degenerates might like that. Personally,I pass. NYRA with one or two tracks would be,and it is fine with me,besides,we got to know,or have long known, who those Professionals on the screen are. A note ,for my late father’s sake,mentioning mister Bernstein on those Saturday nights harness races which most of my family watched with Otb tickets in hand. Thank you x the unreachable,precious memories.Ps: Saturday,there were over $ 2 million in purses at Yonkers with around $ 600k worth of betting. A business investment going the Wrong way.

    1. Been There, you are 100% right in bringing up the late, great Stan Bergstein.

      Embarrassed I didn’t think of him, especially now that we have added a harness presence. Stan was a true legend. He promoted his sport without talking down to his audience, informed and was entertaining doing so.

  10. Still miss that SE paper which had harness and flats! Mark Berman and all others from the Port Washington address .Classes B1,B2 and others which I bet once a good horse would “drop” a letter or number and get a favorable post position,,,,but not if guys like Real Cormier or N. Duplaise were driving them,,to outta the money! A little DAB will do you. Gotta mention Spencer Ross, an all around,even if not top rated, sports guy who also did hockey and basketball gigs.Rip.

    1. From time to time there has been movements to go back to letter grades tied to purses. Of course there were abuses, as with any game of chance. But if officials did their jobs–and harness races easier to adjudicate–that wouldn’t be an issue. It also makes sense if you want to introduce new people to the sport..

  11. Spencer Ross wrote an article last week which told how he was in the booth at Yankee Stadium for Tom Seaver’s 300th win. He was part of a three-man rotation of Phil Rizzuto, Bill White and himself. He got to call the last three innings but Lindsay Nelson, Met announcer, was invited into the booth for this game and Ross told Nelson he should call the innings since he was the Mets announcer for so long. Ross was a Yankees announcer but said he was rooting for Seaver that night to get his 300th win.

    1. Must say that Spencer Ross’s voice did grate on me at times, but there’s no denying his broadcasting talent…

      1. Yeah, he was good. He was recruited in college for Basketball (Florida). He ended his column from last week saying his life had been a “joyride.” He also said that Lindsay Nelson thanked him for turning the mike over to him for the last three innings of Tom Seaver game at Yankee Stadium and said “it was the nicest thing anyone had done for him in more than 30 years announcing.” Spencer Ross was an acquired taste and I didn’t mind listening to him covering Yonkers with Stan Bergstein. I checked Stan out online and he really did have an interesting life in the sport. Watching and listening to him you pretty much knew he knew what he was talking about.

  12. Good catchin’ up. Do believe in saw that game but memory’s betraying me at the moment. I do know it was something I would have loved to see. I’m a Yankees fan but liked the Mets–I lived in Corona–and loved to watch Seaver. I’m a defense first guy; The Mick and Splendid Splinter notwithstanding

  13. John: I am also as Yankees fan but I also loved Tom Seaver. With all due respect to Bob Gibson, Tom Terrific was the best right handed pitcher that I have ever seen. Speaking of nostalgia, I will never forget getting home from school, and turning on Channel 9 to see the last three innings of the game where Tom struck out the last ten Padres to set the Major League record.
    Moreover, I should have included the great Stan Bergstein in any discussion of horse racing communicators. Although I was not a big fan of harness, a Friday or Saturday night, in the 70s, was a big deal at Roosevelt, and there was no one better than explaining harness racing than Stan Bergstein. I have frequently gone shopping with my wife, at the Target and Costco, quite literally in the same space as the old Roosevelt parking lot. Each time that I park there, I cannot help but think about what was.

  14. BitsNPieces: Mighty Heart,the winner of the Queens Plate is a 1 eyed horse.Never heard that before about a top race horse.What we need ,to spice it up a bit in racing ,is another Rosie Napravnik. Won’t expect another Julie K,that would be asking too much. Emma J Wilson or the Danica Patrick of racing,Sutherland,do not win enough to get attention.What,young women are staying away from the barns? Even a Homeister would do in a major track. Trainer said that Julie K was great with female horses..it could be true with most other lady jocks,maybe ? Never was a fan of sports teams but of characters,single players, athletes.Seaver,Colavito,F Robinson,Duncan and Robinson for the San Antonio team,Bubba Beck,my all time fav who had to defend his smurfs teammates,play tough crease defense,fight goons and be captain of the Rangers team besides playing is short handed situations,,pheww!Horse racing jocks that I liked were J Vazquez,Santos and now Battalions But I don’t bet automatically on them. Gotta have the ready horse. Business is business. They say that some 14% of all jockeys are females,,I need a better binocular because I don’t see them,not since the early Delaware days.Dont ask why but I just read how Mike Venezia died,I did not know it.It reminded me of how my fav uncle died,a professional motorcycle rider,,being killed while testing a bike that he had just repaired while working at Ghost Motors ,a huge garage,on Long Island ,,a few weeks after having won on his first race at Watkins Glen,upstate.Rip, uncle Totuccio !

    1. Only time I dreaded being on Thoroughbred Action with Harvey, the day that Mike passed and we had to do a show. We had to, of course, but there was no music and everything was monotone. Harvey captured the moment sadly and brilliantly as I recall. RIP Mike, a good family man who served his community…

  15. I love Tyler and feel a small sense of local pride, he coming from Davie, the town next door to Plantation. Beyond his elite talent, the young man is a very classy individual, EZ to root for…

    As for Roosevelt, a land grab spearheaded by the D’Amoto’s, a story for another day…

    1. “This field is on gate”-Jack E. Lee (“They’re not gonna catch The Redman, Carmine, he’s gonna win it all.”) Beautiful track. Used to shimmy under a fallen down chain link fence near Fortunoff to avoid parking fee. A lot younger then. Cam Fella was a great horse and an amazing sire. Among the best I’ve seen.

    2. Yeah I have a feeling if it was still around, I would have ended up being a harness fan, or at least kept some sort of Roosevelt track/trainer profile spreadsheet for a weekly dinner trip over to Westbury. It is sad as hell that it sat there all those years as if in a decaying time capsule. The lack of respect american society has for the past isn’t only reserved for the elderly.

      1. And when one would win lots of dough there would be the wife-girlfriend reminding you of the nearby Fortunoff’s jewelry store !

  16. Voted 2015 Eclipse Award for U.S. Apprentice Jockey. Won 2019 Preakness on WOW (War of Will) who got tangled up with MAX (Maximum Security) in that year’s Derby. Good choice. I remember Ghost Motorcycles in Port Washington. Famous place. Also liked Barry Beck (NYR). Had to play under John Ferguson who I didn’t like much. Liked Fred “Fog” Shero a lot. Then he went to Philly.

    1. That is incorrect. Fred Shero coached The Flyers before becoming NYR head coach. He took the Blueshirts to The Cup Finals his first year as coach (1979). He played for The Rangers early on, ‘tho. Pretty cool guy.

  17. To C & Bits: If you listen closely, you can still hear the Big Whistle imploring Mr. Beck- “Shoot the puck, Barry, shoot the puck”! And, I can still hear the great Jack Lee- “Windows for the sale of third race Big Triple tickets are OPEN”!, and they cost $3 in those days-not 50 cents!

    1. Good one. From 1973-1981 he was paired w/Jim Gordon on WOR TV. He would’ve covered JD (John Davidson) in net but I remember being at MSG for a game where Eddie Giacomin left the crease area with his goalie stick raised above his head like a tomahawk and skated out towards center ice because of a fight. Favorite games were against Bobby Clarke, Dave Schultz, Billy Barber Flyer’s team that often lasted ’til past 11:00 pm because of all the penalty minutes that were doled out. Fun times. Of course Schultz was mostly on ice to cause havoc but Clarke, Barber, Rick MacLeish were real stars. And to think we traded Rick Middleton to Boston! I even heard Rangers had a shot at Mike Bossy in draft and passed. Both became superstars.

      1. I believe that Bossy and Beck were on the same draft,number one and two respectively for the Islanders and Colorado. The ( S ) Rangers got Bubba in a big,one sided trade. Whistle was a homer while Gordon was a great strait man, play by play guy. Saw Beck in a pre season game,when his shoulder started giving him problems and Dave Brown challenged him twice before the second period was over,,losing both fights.Beck was a mature man even in his early 20s.A real captain for any team,in any sport.A note for Nick Fotiu a NY orker from Staten Island who could fight ,skate and was a crowd fan esp.when would show his pugilistic ability. Once JD came to the aid of tiny Johnstone who was getting pummeled by a Flyer,who else but Shultz,, while being unable to reach his opponent’s face. Flyers always had big goons and instigators.,,,but so did others like Boston,Montreal,Chicago. Was fun to be watching that sport as I would swallow some heros-sandwiches that I had just made.. Now I find this sport uninteresting,even with the Isles trying to get by Tampa Bay for the Stanley cup. There are no characters to root for or rant against but I do plan to visit them at the “Mausoleum” one more time before they will move next to the wonderful Belmont track.That Brooklyn Barkley joint is in an awful location, a dark cement enclosure without any aura and with bad seats( views) ..surrounded by a dense crime area.

        1. Yes, The Barn (Nassau Coliseum), opened in 1972 and is now just about done, I guess. Used to get good concert acts, etc. I took my kid to see the Gold Medal US Women’s Gymnastics team there once. US wins this a lot so it was the team with Dominique Dawes known as The Magnificent Seven who won it all in Summer Games in Atlanta. Geez, we’re taking HRI away from horses and steering it to ice hockey and gymnastics! Just heard on the radio that Swiss Skydiver is a go for Preakness. Rachel Alexandra won Preakness in 2009 and became the first filly to win this race since 1924 (Nellie Morse). Anyway, I must agree with you about Barry Beck because I owned a Ranger’s jersey with Number 5 on it. He was a great player but it wasn’t until MM (Messier) arrived that they won in all again. I had a ticket to Gretsky’s last goal (as a Ranger) but couldn’t go. Boy, those old Edmonton Oiler teams were good. Won as many cups as NY Islanders. Remember Kenny “The Rat” Linseman? Then he went to Boston, and Toronto last. Billy Smith in net was awfully tough to beat. Newsday back page announced, “Ft. Smith” after they eliminated Rangers in great playoff series. Great rivalry.

          1. Was not planning to overlook the great Islander years,well,dynasty really, with the solid goaltending,grit and GM and coach with the ardent following.Never forgot little Gary Howard taking on Pat Quinn ,a defensive man who was at least 5 inches taller and bigger that Howatt who beat him to a pulp. Jethro Gillies beat anyone from O Reilly to Shultz and in between but with Beck there was mutual respect,,up to a point, even when they played each other. Same with Stevens, the Devil’s captain. Only a real hockey fan would mention Lindeman ,the instigator who started many fights among the Broad Street Bullies and everyone else. Took my kids at the Coliseum,committing a Huge mistake when attending the B and Bailey 3 ring circus,, I got front seats which meant that they could not see anything that wasn’t in front of them while having the salespeople pitching any toy- widget that they were selling in front ! Want good seats? BUY THOSE IN THE MIDDLE,ABOUT TEN ROWS UP! Yeah ,then we went to Borrelli’s…

  18. Linseman,the rat.did not fight but stirred the pot x his team.Hate guys like that but you wish he were your teammate.Go figure…

    1. He ended up a realtor in New England and coached High School Hockey. His daughter played Girls Varsity Hockey in HS and College. Funny story about the circus. I wouldn’t have known either that front row would be a problem. I once bought tickets to a sold out track meet at the Old Garden from a scalper. I was a kid and my father told me to get the tickets. Printed on the front were the words Obstructed View. The old garden had these big columns and these seats were next to/behind the column. Scalper had a real sucker when he sold to me, a kid. The meet was sold out as track and field was big back then (early 60’s). Sad to see the Milrose Games move from Garden to smaller venue.

  19. C, have you given any thought to writing a book?

    Sorry, I wish I had more time for strolls down memory lane with you but my day job keeps me hopping like a rabbit on crack.

    1. Thought you’d appreciate giving Newsday a mention regarding NYI vs NYR playoffs. I was pulling for The Rangers but have to acknowledge how strong The Islanders were back then. Their goalie, Billy Smith, was nothing short of terrific. And Newsday shouted out that fact with their back page headline, FT. SMITH. You just couldn’t score on the guy. No book pending but one of your contributors correctly stated that “those were the good old days.” 2020 has been really bad and I have even lost interest in hockey, like BitsnPieces (above). The reason I knew about Ken Linseman is because he coached at a school my kid went to in High School. No Sue Bird stories, ‘tho. That was impressive to read about. And to flash back to Jack E. Lee calling a race is still fun. “Jackie Mo (Moiseyev), that’s all you gotta know.” “They’re not gonna catch The General, Herve Filion.” And don’t get me started on Larry Lederman, ha, ha. Laugh out loud funny race calls.

  20. Let’s go to Maggie……..back to you, Greg…….over to you, Andy…….let’s check in with Acacia……..back to you, Greg…….over to you, Jonathon…..back to you, Laffit……..let’s check in with Gary on the West Coast ……..we go back to Maggie……..over to trainer Tom Amoss……..final thoughts, Mig?

    and that’s for a 3-horse “field”

    God, I hate this show blah, blah, blah….be glad to get back to NJ where I can get TVG on the tube!!!

    1. Glad that you mentioned that !! After hitting two Delaware races I just watched a race from CD..ridiculous,they ,well ,she ,Acacia talks and talks about the horses in this race without showing the names of jockey,trainer or the horses ,no odds ,no combos Burning ,worse than a minor track from Parts Unknown! And this is Venerable Churchill Downs ?? Oh yeah ,some horse named My man Flintstone beat the odds on favorite. And when finally showing prices I got to know who was running at what price. ” High School Sophomore Syndrome” when a young woman believes that talking incessantly makes you sound smart and popular. Wrong!Annoying to the tilt.Gotta know when to talk less.BTWay,CD,why no info on odds,names,jocks and trainers ( hoping that it was only happening in that race,which was the seventh as I found out with the results. ” Come on, Man “,show some responsible professionalism ! Pulled the plug.

      1. You have no credibility, not being able to tell the difference between Maggie Wolfendale and Acacia Courtney. If you’ve forgotten what each looked like in the past few days, the name was on the screen all afternoon. And you trying hosting a show following horses at two tracks not in your hometown.

  21. Love your work, met you once at the Spa, thought I’d post my comments and a friend’s reply. Basically, The Fox/NYRA shows need MORE HORSE RACES.

    THEY DRIVE ME CRAZY!!!!! All Maggie says as she stutters her way through is that horse looks fit!! That horse is really FIT, that horse could be fitter, she’s horrible.

  22. You’re right, lots of throws.

    Glad you’ll be happy to get back to five minutes from hosts and analysts talking over the warm-ups about many horses of the race and by the time you get to ADW to bet the race there already off and you’re shut out. Sometimes the delays are subtle and you miss out.

    Having done some racing TV myself, I admit it can be overdone, but each personality have different jobs. Handicappers are are not on together on NYRA broadcasts, neither is jockey commentary. As for the women, one’s in the paddock, the other trackside, all contributing different information.

    As for the hosts, the best ones are good traffic cops, the faces of the show. They never appear at same time, which makes your criticism a bit disingenuous (I apologize for the TVG-still equivocating).

    1. Yeah but they all got to have parameters,limits,responsibilities ÍF they’re qualified for the job. Chatting to death is annoying no matter who is doing it.You may say,defending them,that the viewer can always kill the volume which is trying to avoid,ignore the problem at hand.Show me more and blah,blah , blah less. This Adolescent slant is not needed,it never was. Nobody looks good with this style of programming.Is anyone at CD watching this ??

  23. John: With great sadness, I just saw the report that the long abandoned Green Mountain Grandstand burned down last night. There is some belief that the fire was “suspicious”. How sad that this wonderful track had to be abandoned and that it took almost three decades before it became a casualty of greed and avarice.
    Since this thread has become a walk down Nostalgia Lane, may I be permitted to remember the simplicity and beauty of Green Mountain? My first visit to the Spa was in 78 for the Affirmed/Alydar Travers. Immediately after that card ended at the Spa, my friends and I drove through the beautiful countryside of the NY/Vermont border. About an hour after leaving Saratoga, we were on Route 7, traveling south from Bennington to Pownal. John, I don’t know if you ever made it to GM, but it was a marvelous place and the Dog Racing was tons of fun. How sad that GM was left to rot away since Vermont banned dog racing in the early 90s. The fire that engulfed the grandstand was the inevitable ending to this long sad tale. Nevertheless, I will always remember how much fun a night at Green Mountain was, and there was never a better Double-Header than Saratoga in the afternoon and Green Mountain at night.
    RIP-Green Mountain Racetrack, Pownal, VT

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