07/31/2007 11:14AM

Dark Day #1


No one was trying to denigrate Lawyer Ron, NYRA or thoroughbred racing in general by saying that the times of Saturday's races did not fit together, and identical questions would have been raised had the winner been any other horse in the field. And I find nothing sacrilegious about questioning a timing system where, as several posters noted, a certifiably inaccurate first quarter of 21 and change was posted during the running of the Diana 90 minutes earlier in the day.

One thing the flap illustrates, not that additional impetus was needed, is the need for NYRA to install the Trakus system as soon as it can. The accurate, real-time display of the running order of the entire field during a race is a terrific step forward in the game and would be especially welcome in New York, where an antiquated manual placing system often shows a completely different running order from the actual one. Trakus also generates a ton of individual horse data that may well prove to be the next frontier in handicapping once anyone figures out exactly what to do with it.

--In the course of trying out your computer suggestions, I was horrified to see that the 10 categories of supposedly objectional material one can block through Internet Explorer's "parental controls" to protect the young'uns includes "depictions of gambling." No one's saying tykes should be playing online roulette, but does "depictions of gambling" include Dostoevsky and "The Sting"? And why no controls for "depictions of playing the stock market," "depictions of collecting bobbleheads," "depictions of buying designer shoes" or any other activity that, performed imprudently or obsessively, might be expensive?

--I mentioned a couple of days ago that My Typhoon might find the distance of the BC F&M Turf a challenge because of its 10-furlong distance. Oops. As one of you pointed out, the race is at 11 furlongs this year -- even more of a challenge for the middle-distance specialist. The F&M Turf is one of three races that will be run at the "wrong" distance this year because of Monmouth's course configurations: The new Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile will betray its name by being run at a mile and 70 yards, and the new F&M Sprint will be at six furlongs this year and seven furlongs thereafter.

--Quick restaurant tout: I ate my first Saratoga meal of the season that was not delivered in a box or served on a bun last night at Hattie's, which I had not visited since the early 1980's when it was known as Hattie's Chicken Shack. The fried chicken is still outstanding but so is the rest of the Southern-style menu. While Mrs. Blog would doubtless advise me to warn that it is not the most artery-friendly menu in town, my cornbread, hush puppies and jambalaya all got high marks and even she was able to enjoy a fairly guilt-free piece of prosciutto-wrapped fish.