What can I say? I came, I saw, I won a little bit for the day thanks to Mitole. However, with $14 sausage and pepper sandwiches and $6 soft drinks I couldn’t say I went home with more money than I had when I arrived at BEL. But on days like yesterday, you just have to put up with mediocre food and drink. It’s worth it to be part of the raucous crowd.
Here are my views about the day.
- The weather was glorious. A wind came up for a bit, but really didn’t affect any of the races significantly. Humidity was low, temperature just right. You have to enjoy those days when you get them.
- The track looked great. I’m sure it was impressive on TV. And thank goodness no horse went down.
- The grandstand was cleaner than I remember last year, but if they want another BC, they need to brighten some things up. Some deep cleaning, paint, and lighting would be welcomed. Perhaps the lack of concern about the cob webs is telling us something. It wouldn’t hurt to upgrade some of the seating either.
- There were plenty of younger people there. I’m not sure how much they bet, but I learned how many millennials it takes to use a betting machine. I have a proposal: you get three minutes at the machine. After that amount of time, the machine spits out tickets on any bets you made and returns your updated voucher. Here’s the best part of my idea. You can’t reinsert your ticket into that machine for five minutes. You can move to another machine, you can go to the back of the line, but you don’t get to stand there interminably handicapping and betting. Show up, make your bets, have concern for your fellow handicappers. It was great to see the young fans, but Belmont has to take the huge opportunity to make their signature day more than just the one day a year they show up.
- They need an updated system for the betting machines. Something that is intuitive and quicker. A lot of the rookies were perplexed. I could hear the group of them surrounding the machine saying things like, no, push that button. It has to be easy to keep people interested.
- They also need a few guys wandering around to instruct people on using the machines on those days. Troubleshooters. Maybe have a continuous loop showing near the self-service machines.
- There were a lot of lit cigars in the grandstand. It wasn’t bothering me, but some people were bitching. It isn’t that hard to walk outside to smoke your cigar. After all, it is against the law to smoke in the grandstand even if you think you are “outside.”
- It was impossible to get anywhere near the paddock or saddling area to evaluate horses for looks or energy. I don’t think there is anything that can be done, but it was frustrating because there were some horses coming off layoffs that I wanted to see.
- They did have food trucks available outside next to the backyard. Unfortunately I didn’t see them until late. It would have been nice to know we didn’t just have to order the suspect Philly Cheese Steak. I was pretty sure it was processed beef and absolutely sure the top was cheese whiz. I know you’re not there for the food, but for me to last from 11 am to 7 pm, I’ve got to get some calories.
- Using the LIRR was great. Trains were packed but on time.
- I really love NY. Sitting on a bench under a tree in Bryant Park drinking some Rooibos Tea, watching a steady stream of people playing outdoor ping pong and something that looked like Bocce Ball but had a different name, was as relaxing as it gets. You’d hardly know you were in the middle of the horn-blowingest city in the country.
I may make the Belmont an annual trip.