Every Picnic Needs a Dry Martini

Asiatic Boy and his long body (Capitol149)

Because I’m only doing posts about things that have already been posted about today, here’s a recap of yesterday at Belmont!

Swifty’s birthday has usually been celebrated at the track and this year was no different. Teresa had been trying to organize a birthday gathering at NYRA’s new Top of the Stretch picnic areas so I suggested to Swifty (out of total self-interest) that maybe we should get in on that action and have a co-birthday party. The results? It crushed the field.

The area itself was great, apparently it was so muddy that our little pen required some straw to hide the mud. This added a nice barn-like ambiance to the affair. There was a festive air amongst all the Top of the Stretch-ers. On one side was a group of young-ish folks who enthusiastically (and drunkenly) hooted and hollered regardless of the outcome of any race (although a couple of them seemed to cash big in a couple of instances) and what looked to be a children’s birthday party on the other side.

We had a great assortment of well wishers for our co-birthday hosts. Naturally, Papa Backstretch was in attendance, which afforded me the opportunity to try to get a little information out of him. After picking the winner in the second, he gave up that he liked the drop in class with the cut back. He even let me know which horse he liked with at least 5 minutes to post once (he must have forgotten himself for a moment!). No doubt I’ll be trying to get more info out of him in a couple of weeks at Saratoga.

Trying to spy on Papa Backstretch, who worked diligently as the party went on around him

Swifty’s crowd included some folks who had gone to the track with us before and some who hadn’t. Not only did everyone enjoy themselves, many seemed to marvel at just how much fun they had “I can’t believe I spent 5 hours at the track, and it was GREAT!” exclaimed one first time guest, who’s 5ish year old daughter cashed on Trusted Heart (pictured below).

Guests marked their beverages while a new chapter of Future Handicappers of America was started

Several folks cashed on name plays, including our grill master Dan who naturally had Dantastic. His wife, a martial arts enthusiast had a nice $73 score with Offensive Attack. She also boxed him with Hero Figure (“I like fighting”). The Ben in the group did not get as lucky as Dan with Just Ben, but don’t feel too bad for him, he also had Offensive Attack!

Yours truly had a somewhat lousy day at the windows. I was too busy eating hot dogs and chatting with all the fab guests which included Andy Serling (now on Twitter!), Dave Grening, Bill Tivenan & Cassandra Cook who authored the excellent Off to Flying Start (more on that to come!), Jessica & Mr. Railbird and various members of the NYRA press office.

It’s always a pleasure when Mrs. Swifty comes to the track as she’s a very knowledgeable horsewoman who’s great to have around during the parade. Fortunately for my quickly shrinking voucher, Dry Martini jumped out at both of us. I liked only horses that had done well at the distance (Asiatic Boy, Rising Moon and Finallymadeit) and was hoping they would look ready to rock in the parade.

Seeing Asiatic Boy’s odds plummet, I was very interested in Mrs. Swifty’s take… when he galloped by she made a somewhat delighted “oh!” and confirmed that he looked good, in particular she liked his long body (something I would never notice or even know why I should I notice). Ready’s Echo also stood out to both of us but I felt strongly that he couldn’t get the distance… but damn he looked good! I put him in a dime super with Dry Martini, Asiatic Boy and Rising Moon… almost!

No doubt we’ll be doing this whole affair again next year but we had a such blast that we were talking about doing it again in the fall. If you’re a local with a will to picnic, you should definitely book a day at the Top of the Stretch… and take some potential new fans, will you?