08 June 2006

Travelin' shoes

Once again, the King and I are taking off to enjoy ... the sport of kings. This time it is the Belmont Stakes calling, though frankly I'm just as interested in the turf races on Saturday: Gorella, Wend, Mirabilis, and that sneaky Ozone Bere are all in the Just a Game Handicap, while Grey Swallow, Relaxed Gesture and English Channel (not to mention Dreadnaught and Cacique) will match up in the Manhattan. With such offerings, how can we not pack up the roadster and steer our way to the Empire State?

Since this is our third out-of-state racing trip in as many months, it seemed wise to pick up a copy of Horse Racing Coast to Coast: The Traveler's Guide to the Sport of Kings by Michael Walmsley and Marlene Smith-Baranzini. Hot-off-the-presses, the book provides overviews of more than 65 tracks, covering everything from each track's racing season and admission prices to the location of the nearest airport. A more extensive narrative describes each facility, highlighting special race days and history. Often, the authors' personal experiences -- like having their horse get claimed at Emerald Downs or cheering on Smarty Jones at Churchill -- are included.

After the track descriptions, a "Must See/Must Do" section highlights other attractions in the area, while "Where to Stay" and "Where to Wine & Dine" sections offer suggestions for covering the basics of travel.

Though I would have organized the book differently, and though there's no listing for Grants Pass Downs, and all of Canada is jammed into an appendix, overall, Horse Racing Coast to Coast is a surprisingly entertaining read, due in large part to the quirky details that pepper its pages. For example, did you know that jockeys Rhonda Swan and Scott Speith got married in the winner's circle at Thistledown? Or that the Beatles played at Suffolk Downs in 1966? Or that every Halloween, the Meadowlands hosts the Grey Ghost Starter Handicap,a race limited to grey horses? Or, more importantly, that Oaklawn offers a prime rib platter for $8.99?

Hmmm...I'm betting we go to Arkansas next year.


Tote Board Brad said...

Hey, have you reviewed "the great match race" ??? is it worth my $?

I didn't see it over here, but your fans like to think you've read every tome in the library of congress. Let us keep believing.

Eddie D. said...

Ozone Bere certainly sneaked up the rail, but a more perfect trip a turf horse cannot get. I think that race is all Gorella's.

QQ said...

Eddie, gotta agree with you on Gorella. Of course, I'm partial to horses with names that rhyme with quinella.

QQ said...

Brad - Nope, haven't done The Great Match Race yet. It's probably at your local library, though. You can check here: WorldCat. Just pop in your zip code, and it searches libraries in your area.

vince said...

Great blog - I like to travel to out of town tracks myself. Always lots of fun. My home track is Aqueduct but i go down to Gulfstream park any chance I get.