No Joy In Mudville? Belmont's A Success Despite Bad WeatherPublished June 9, 2003
|Belmont Stakes Does Well
Despite Nasty Weather
Saturday's Belmont Stakes drew 101,864 fans, the second largest in the event's 135-year history, despite inclement weather. NYRA Senior VP Bill Nader said that the "miserable weather kept about 25,000 fans at home." Nader: "I think this cost us about 25[%], from what we would have had. That's just my feeling. What really hurt is that the rain started at 9:15. If it had started at, say, 2 or 3 o'clock, I wouldn't be saying that. ... This was a solid crowd we had today" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/8). An on-track record $12.9M was wagered on the Belmont, but Saturday's total handle of $92.6M fell short of last year's record $95.4M. In N.Y., Bossert & O'Keeffe wrote that officials "don't regret bringing in" 500 extra mutuel clerks to handle heavy wagering. Belmont Park Assistant Mutuel Dir Sherman Jetton said, "Last year we wish we had, and even if we have to send some people home, we'd rather have too many people and serve the public as best we can." NYRA President & COO Terry Meyocks, on Saturday's sizable attendance and handle figures: "The crowd showed their loyalty and passion for the sport, coming out early and staying late in what had to be one of the worst weather days for any major day in the history of Thoroughbred racing" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/7). On Long Island, Sumathi Reddy wrote, "Aside from the rain, officials said they experienced no problems in terms of security, traffic or parking" (NEWSDAY, 6/8). Overall handle for the Belmont, including simulcast and off-track bets, also "set a wagering record of [$48.1M] for a six-horse field" (THOROUGHBRED TIMES, 6/7).
EMERGING RIVALRY: Funny Cide finished third in the Belmont Stakes behind winner Empire Maker, and in N.Y., Ed Fountaine writes, "Racing was denied a Triple Crown winner, ... but it got something better: an intense, even bitter rivalry, between two brilliant horses, two veteran trainers and two groups of rabid fans, the likes of which we haven't seen since Easy Goer vs. Sunday Silence in 1989" (N.Y. POST, 6/9). In DC, Andrew Beyer writes of Funny Cide, "The excitement associated with the Belmont demonstrated how much the sport needs stars with whom fans can identify. One of the curses of the game has been the premature retirement of top horses to stud." Since Funny Cide is a gelding, "He could conceivably compete until he is 8 or 9, ... and he will be a big attraction every time he runs" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/9). In Seattle, Larry Lee Palmer notes, "A star was born Saturday in Elmont, N.Y. Though Funny Cide didn't win, the sport did" (SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 6/9). In DC, Thom Loverro wrote, "The quest for the Triple Crown may have gone up in smoke as well, but that shouldn't diminish the story of Funny Cide. It doesn't enhance it, but it is still a winner's tale. ... After the controversy that rocked the sport with the Pick-Six Breeders Cup betting scandal in November, Funny Cide brought some joy back into thoroughbred racing" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 6/8). In N.Y., Joe Drape writes of Funny Cide, his owners and trainer Barclay Tagg, "They made horse racing fashionable again" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/9).
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