Mourning In America

A New York Democrat on politics, journalism, and the Mets

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Saturday, May 15, 2004

What a Horse! Watching Smarty Jones pull away to his record 11 1/2-length win at Pimlico today, who could avoid thinking of Secretariat's similar championship stroll through the stretch at Belmont 31 years ago? June 5th can't come soon enough!

I know the stage isn't the same, and I'll probably get smacked down by my father for even suggesting the comparison, but what's a blog for? And besides, jockey Gary Stevens agrees with me: "We could be seeing history in the making."

Urgent Open Letter to the NYRA Given that Smarty Jones appears to be "a special horse," I can't remain silent any longer:


In case you haven't noticed, it's been 26 years since the last Triple Crown winner. It's not like we haven't been close: Six horses have won the Derby and the Preakness in the last eight years (including the last two in a row), only to fall short at your "historic Belmont Park."

Their efforts in merely getting to that point have been good for the sport, but an actual winner would be even better.

Luckily, you have the power to end the drought. How? By honoring the race's history, thereby enlisting the spirits of horse-racing's past in Smarty Jones' campaign.

Despite the frequent paens to Belmont's heritage that are central to your marketing efforts, you've abandoned one of the greatest traditions of all: The singing of the Belmont Stakes theme song ("The Sidewalks of New York.") prior to the race. Oh, I know -- you claim you've replaced it with an honorable substitute. Horsefeathers! The current stand-in is an interminable anthem made popular only by its endless repetition at Yankee Stadium.

The other two races in the Triple Crown series would not dare change their theme songs, despite compelling reasons to do so (most particularly the overt racism in the lyrics to "My Old Kentucky Home"). They know the importance of karma and the danger of angering the ghosts of race fans past (many of whom were known as fairly dangerous characters in their day).

Luckily, there is still time. Bring back the spirit of Old New York, and help Smarty Jones gain the Triple Crown.


A Concerned Race Fan

TNT Presents Things America should not have to hear during a time of war:

Jeff Van Gundy (Houston Rockets coach, now serving as a studio analyst because his team got squashed by Shaq and Karl Malone), speaking to fellow analyst Charles Barkley: "Why are you always picking on the short white guys? How come you never get on the ugly brothas?"

The WB11 Presents Things America should not have to hear during a time of war:

"Now pitching for the Mets, James Baldwin."

I can't find the reference right now, but somebody put it well the other day: "So Baldwin, a fly-ball pitcher with a reputation for giving up too many home runs, will get another start for the Mets, this time in Houston's Minute Maid Park, one of the best ballparks for home run hitters in all of baseball."

Thus far, the game is going true to form, Baldwin trails 4-0, although Mike Piazza just drew a walk to give Shane Spencer a shot to drive in some runs. Hope springs eternal in the heart of a Met fan...

UPDATE: Spencer comes through, driving in Cliff Floyd (how glad am I that he's back?). 4-1

UPDATE: So does Jason Phillips! (although he's still batting below .200). 4-3