Thursday, May 13, 2010

Late-night reflections from Timonium

TIMONIUM, Md. -- Hello, blog. I'm just stopping by to check in after a long, but enjoyable Wednesday in Maryland, where I'm taking part for the first time in all the activity surrounding an auction of 2-year-old racehorses.

The day began with my cell phone alarm not going off as it was set (I double-checked and the darned thing does seem to have been programmed correctly), and the hotel front desk wake-up-call service apparently missing my room as well. Luckily I woke up on my own, only a little behind schedule, and made it to where I needed to be in plenty of time. That being the first day of the breeze show for Fasig-Tipton's Midlantic sale of 2-year-olds in training.

After a good five hours of watching dozens upon dozens of horses rumble past the grandstand at the fairgrounds racetrack in Timonium a few lessons have been learned.

1. Horse people are generally good folk, both fans and the "players" in the game. Fun to talk with, at the very least. ... Many have a sense of humor, too. Overheard from one attendee of the under tack show: "Good crowd today. Looks like the grandstands during the actual race-meet at Laurel."

2. Some of these horses increased their stock dramatically by posting more rapid breeze times, while others likely cost their consigners significantly by being a tick or two slower than average.

3. That faster or slower one-fifth of a second run on Wednesday (or during today's second session of the breeze show) neither makes nor breaks a racehorse; it won't be the difference whether that animal is a winner or loser in the future. Not unless some track starts carding eighth-mile races with walk-up starts.

4. Sunscreen. Buy it. Use it.

Other lessons were learned later in the day and into the evening.

Traffic stinks on I-695 and I-70 headed west from the Baltimore area between 4 and 6 p.m.

The fan accommodations at Charles Town are significantly better than those at Laurel and Pimlico. In exchange, you have to follow a red-carpet path and arrow signs as you negotiate a twisting trek of something like 12.7 miles from the parking garage through the vast slot machine parlors (and under-construction areas for upcoming table games) before reaching the racetrack and its seating. The path is so convoluted that you really should be rewarded with cheese when you reach the end.

Yuengling Black & Tan is pretty good beer, and the Charles Town concessionaire sells a pretty fair slice of pepperoni pizza at a decent price. For track food, at least.

In the mud at Charles Town, take the speed horse and expect her to hold on, at least for a piece. Unless I, Glenn Craven, have effectively identified and wagered upon the speed horse, in which case he or she will die in the stretch and finish next-to-last.

When I get the notion that I should really quit while I'm behind, I should quit. Instead, I stayed for the ninth at CT, watched my horse win the race, and knew before he ever crossed the wire that he was gonna get taken down and placed second.

Let's hope for an equally educational Thursday. Minus the sunburn.

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