Tuesday, July 22, 2008

One Day Away... and L' Alpes

The wait is just about over! Tomorrow race fans will be reveling in the best racing America has to offer! My first experience with racing was at Saratoga Race Course; talk about spoiled! Things have changed a lot in not many years. The entire industry seemed more welcoming, from the Pinkerton's in the mornings to the accessibility to those in the industry. I'm not sure that this is true but it seems this way to me. But back then I was newly hooked and determined to learn and was not going to take "no" for an answer to anything. I would find away through or around any problem to get the answers and opportunities I sought. I lived in Saratoga for a while as well and the ability to walk to the track at any time, to observe the celebratory crowds coming and going from town, was a special treat. My favorite days have always been, and remain, opening and closing day. They are the two that I have always tried to be there for. Unfortunately, this year I will not be there opening day as responsibility has other ideas for me, but my heart will be there and I'm sure I'll know instinctively when the bell rings and the gates open for the first race of the meet. What I love about the final day is the heightened feeling of bittersweetness that must overcome all fans. I remember many final days when, after the final race, my friend John and I would just sit in our chairs at our customary spot until just about everyone has left. It's amazing how fast the show leaves town and in it's wake remains a void that only next years opening day can fill. I also love the excitement of sales week. After all that is what Saratoga is all about; the great possibilities that exist for tomorrow. The first sales I ever attended were the Keeneland September sales and it's impossible to imagine there being a bigger spectacle but the FT sales at Saratoga have a more social and festive atmosphere to them that, at least to my sensibilities, hearkens back to days long past in the industry. Saratoga is a phantasmagoria, a world treasure that needs to be cared and looked after. So, let's all keep our eyes on the marvel that we have and enjoy in our own back yard and not ever allow anything to diminish its' glory.

On a different note there were some great stories this weekend. There's not a better sport in the world for human and non-human interest stories. The first has to be Evening Attire winning the "win and your in" 1 - 1/2 mile Greenwood Cup at Philly, in record time! Wow! You have to love this stuff. Monzante rocketing up from last to win the Eddie Read at the wire has to be one of the great runs of the year! I can't imagine a more exciting performance. And of course Music Note's overwhelming run in the C.C.A. Oaks, spectacular!

Tour de' France
The next few days in the Alps will sort things out. Today and tomorrow are absolutely killer stages. Tomorrows stage is perhaps the most famous climb in Tour history L'Alpe d' Huez! It is my favorite climb to watch. This will be the 25th time a stage finishes atop L'Alpe d' Huez. Of course this year the riders will have to attack its' 21 switchbacks after riding over two Hors cat.(H.C.) climbs (climbs considered too difficult to fall within any of the cat.(1-4) climbs : the Col du Galibier and Col de la Croix de Fer. But that's getting ahead of things because today they have two H.C. climbs to survive just to be able to face tomorrow!
Cadel Evans relinquished the yellow jersey on Sunday but if he's anywhere close at the end of the big mountain stages on Thursday lookout because with his superior time trial skills he would likely be able to put the yellow on for keeps after Saturdays time trial. The problem has been his team. He has had to do too much by himself. Popovych has been a big disappointment, at least for me.
Andy Schleck (Lux) has truly distinguished himself this year. I think we will be talking about him next year as a true contender.

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