(Forgive me for taking this long to post this, but schoolwork caught up with me in a big way, forcing this blog to step aside to address it. Here is the second half of my Belmont adventure)
Day 2 of Super Saturday weekend was an different kind of experience compared to Saturday. For one, this blog was not going to Belmont by car, but by public transportation. This blog would try to catch up with someone who he had missed on Super Saturday.. This blog would try to enjoy the majesty and wonder that is Belmont Park, something that couldn’t be done the day before with the helter-skelter schedule that end up being Super Saturday. Finally, this blog would travel the city alone in search of someone.
The day started with this blog and Connie figuring out our plan of attack on how to get all the way from Newark to Belmont Park. While this blog is well-versed in the so-so public transportation system in Los Angeles, this would be a whole other experience. With directions provided by Cory, we were off from the hotel. We took the hotel shuttle back to the airport, where we caught the bus to Newark Penn Station. From there, we caught the PATH over the river into Manhattan. After a quick trip on the LIRR and a one stop ride on the subway, it was one more bus to Belmont Park. The bus went into the track, stopping right next to where the LIRR stop is for Belmont Park. (Which sadly only is used on Belmont Stakes day.) The strangest part of the trip was the fact that you can eat on the subway and buses in New York, something you cannot do in Los Angeles. The entire system puts L.A.'s to shame.
Once Connie and this blog arrived at Belmont, we went our separate ways, only occasionally touching base with each other throughout the day. This blog ran Teresa (@bklynbckstretch) and we had a good chat and she provided me with the key piece of information on how to travel the city alone to get to that someone. I took advantage of the less-crowded conditions and walked around the facility. Belmont is such a beautiful facility. Walking around the backyard, this blog soaked in the convivial atmosphere that must exist when it is packed with people. (The weather was rather brisk and conspired against it being as full). Walking around the immense grandstand, discovering the nooks and crannies were people hang out, each with their own visible atmosphere, was a great experience.
The 3 co-features on the day were the Grade 2 Kelso at a mile on the main track, the Grade 3 Miss Grillo for 2yo fillies on the grass going a 1m & 1/16th, and the Grade 3 Pilgrim for 2yo males on the inner turf at the same 1m & 1/16th distance. Air Support won the Pilgrim, and Tizway won the Kelso. The star of the day was the winner of the Miss Grillo, Winter Memories. She won from the outside post with an impressive turn of foot, prevailing with ease. Her connections were very excited after the race and she looks like a filly with a future. After the Kelso, this blog got a chance to catch up with Joe (@Joe_Depaolo), who this blog had seen the day before but did not have a chance to talk with at length. We had a good chat, and after the last race, this blog met back up with Connie and headed back on our journey to the hotel.
After taking a bus back to the subway stop, we discovered that there was a quicker way back to the city, by taking one train all the way back to Manhattan. There this blog said my goodbye to Connie, and proceeded to kill a little time in hoping that the guy I hoped to talk to the entire trip would call me back so I could go meet up with him. After an agonizing 45 minutes, he left me a message saying to meet him. Using the tips Teresa gave me, this blog was able to get down there in no time. The person I had hoped to talk to is none other than Ernie Munick, a world-class guy, creator of a great community on Facebook called Thoroughbred Racing in New York (TRNY) and currently doing great work for BreedersCup360.com with his "E Train" segments. This blog saw him several times during the day on Saturday, but was unable to get close enough to get his attention. Even though it was just a brief 20-minute conversation covering a wide swath of racing topics while under the subway awning to hide from the rain, it was worth it.
As this blog worked its way back to the hotel in the inclement weather late at night, time was taken to think about what this weekend meant, both from a horse racing standpoint and a personal standpoint. From a racing standpoint, Life At Ten solidified her spot as the second bet older female in the country; Winter Memories could be a future star in the making, and Blame ran a good race, lost, but did nothing to impair my love for him. Plus, all the loss did was help his price grow come post time for the Classic. On a personal level, this blog did several things that at this time last year would have been inconceivable. Going on a trip alone, flying cross-country, staying with someone they had never met before all were new experiences that will be cherished for until the end of time. What will the future hold for this blog? Who knows. But the journey will be the most enjoyable part.