21 Days in the book, 19 to go for the 2010 Saratoga Meet.
Here are some midterm observations:
Jockey Title: It’s a 3 man race at this point; Javier Castellano came out red hot, but has cooled off a little and sits at 24 wins with Johnny Velazquez the hot one and your leader at 28, winning 3 races on Sunday. And beware Ramon Dominguez sitting with 21 wins and plenty of good mounts left in the meet.
Trainer Title: This has been a two man race from the start between Todd Pletcher and local trainer Chad Brown.
The “Golden Sombrero times 5” award goes to Nick Zito currently an ice cold 0-20 in the win column with only 2 seconds and a third to show for his efforts.
The new infield Tote Board: I’m mixed on this one. I often sit over in Section J, so from those seats I have a dead on center view of the new infield Tote Board. It has a nice clean look and the odds can be clearly seen on the board, something the old infield Tote never reliably did, with multiple blown bulbs seemingly every day. But the new board does not show the post race payouts so if you are seated anywhere in the middle of the track you have to rely on the side totes or the small overhead televisions to figure out what they are. The right side of the tote is reserved for ad space and announcements-can't the race payouts be rotated in this space with the ads?.
The Paddock Bar: NYRA gets an A-Plus on this one. I relished the first few days of the meet, when significant other and I saddled up to the bar behind the Paddock in relative small company with great drinks, betting machines and a view of the Paddock to boot. But of course, despite my best attempts to keep the place a secret, word has gotten out and the place is jammed, especially on Saturday.
Other Track Amenities: NYRA gets kudos on this one also, adding the Shake Shack and the Blue Smoke to the grounds. Moderately priced with lines that move pretty quickly- both places serve tasty food, with betting windows in between the two places to boot, so you can still get your bet in. You really can’t go wrong with the Shake Burger and a Shake.
A returning eatery however remains my favorite. Hattie’s formerly on “restaurant row” moved to a separate location to a bigger space this year just outside the clubhouse escalators. I find a Hattie’s fried chicken sandwich eaten around the 6th race or so has just the perfect mix of ingredients to give me the proper nourishment to continue on for the remainder of the card.