If you listen close enough, even in the stillness of the morning, you can hear the old thunderclaps of joy that have so often spilled from this beautiful place, which is poured on the Hempstead Turnpike, beating the constant roar of the Cross Island Parkway.
Listen close enough and it’s June 6, 2015, and there are thousands of people jumping out of their tribune seats, joining a horse named American Pharoah as he tossed the last furlongs forever, people running with him, laughing, crying and Screaming. suddenly.
Keep it up, keep listening, and it’s June 9, 1973, and Big Red, Clerk, is extending his lead over Twice to Prince – 10 lengths, 20, 25 – and Ron Turcotte is once again looking back on the field , 31 lengths behind at the end.
Listen carefully – it’s a wonderful sunny afternoon ripped from any of the 52 springs and summers dating back to 1968, when this new iteration of Belmont Park opened its doors. Listen: You can hear regulars and rail birds, maybe 5,000 of them, maybe less, many of them willing to annoying 20 to 1 house, their pleas ringing across the street at the Belmont Deli and Grill, where the day wins and losses are shared with a sandwich and a steaming cup of coffee.
Too often we forget this gem in our midst, Belmont Park, where the champions of the sport have earned their crowns, where their best craftsmen wield their craft, where these tribunes have known all the ups and downs that the sport of kings can bring about. . . It is a magnificent old race track, a wonderful sports park that is equal to its cousins in The Bronx (Yankee Stadium) and Manhattan (Madison Square Garden).
So it’s right that when live sports return to New York for the first time in 80 days on Wednesday, they do so here in Belmont Park, where the skeleton of a hockey arena expands every day, obscuring the old view that I could steal. from the road.
When we said goodbye to sports, that was also on a race track, at Aqueduct, in Ozone Park, where at 5:43 p.m. On the afternoon of Sunday, March 15, a 3-year-old boy named Gandy Dancing, with Manuel Franco on top, won the ninth race of the day, a $ 60,000 maiden special weight race, paying $ 7.60, $ 5.10 and $ 4.40. . The NBA was already gone. So I had the NHL. And four days later, the rest of the Aqueduct meeting would also.
Wednesday at Belmont, there will be no fans. But at 1:14 p.m. More or less, a collection of 11 3-year-olds will gather at the door for a $ 28,000 maiden claim race. Vero Sun is your favorite, with 5 to 2. Wisecrack and Carnegie Song can be obtained from 50 to 1. At 1:15 they will leave.
And so do we.
“I really can’t thank the whole community at the back for putting up with and caring for these horses,” says Philip Antonacci. “They are the true heroes in our industry.”
Antonacci is the Connecticut-based Lindy Farm blood pool manager for his family, and will have a 2-year-old son in the third race of the day: an inaugural race, five stadiums on land, which is sure to draw the biggest Attention.
A year ago, he bought the son of Malibu Moon and Tashzara for $ 175,000 at the Keeneland yearlong auction. In early March, Antonacci applied to The Jockey Club seeking to give his horse a name that would honor his family’s Italian-American heritage and that of an old Brooklyn neighbor who used to belong to the same parish as his grandparents.
And to his great delight, “Fauci” was approved. He leaves as a 4-5 favorite, with Tyler Gaffalione in the saddle.
“It would be appropriate if Fauci won, to close the whole thing down,” said Antonacci.
Still, just knowing that there will be activity again, with the dust kicked up along Big Sandy, provides a small slice of familiarity at a time when it’s so sparse.
“It has been tough for everyone, especially the rear workers,” said Antonacci, “and COVID had its last impact on a couple of workers.” It was a difficult time for all of us and we are very happy to go to the other side. “
On Wednesday you’ll be quiet inside this great old showplace, quieter on the Hempstead Turnpike, except for the hum of cranes and trucks. But a small breath of life returns to our city, a brief breath of routine, after the 1:15 hour. It is a good first gallop.