12/01/2010 9:58AM

NYRA's Quick Hook


The second I woke up this morning (Wednesday) and heard the wind and saw the rain, I knew the New York Racing Association would cancel the card at Aqueduct.

Wednesday's cancellation was very much in keeping with the "quick hook" philosophy the NYRA has demonstrated in recent years regarding weather-related situations. I am not arguing with this policy. No one wants to put jockeys and horses at even greater risk than usual because of adverse weather conditions. But at the risk of sounding like an old grandpa telling the youngins how soft they have it because he had to walk 10 miles to school everyday through blizzards - uphill - it is amazing how things have changed over the years regarding the NYRA's position on cancellations.

It is true that as of early Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service did have a "wind advisory" posted for the New York City area which called for southeast winds of 20 to 30 miles per hour with occasional gusts of 40 to 50 mph. But the advisory also said those winds were mainly for the locations north and west of New York City, with the strongest winds occurring mainly across higher elevations. Aqueduct, it should be noted, lies east of New York City and, being hard by Jamaica Bay, is at sea level. The National Weather Service also predicted new rainfall amounts of 1-2 to 3-4 of an inch of rain, with radar indicating the heaviest rain staying off to the west.

In other words, folks, what cancelled Wednesday's card at Aqueduct was a rainstorm! A fairly typical, mostly unspectacular rainstorm.

It's a good thing that this quick hook cancellation policy wasn't in effect on Belmont Stakes Day in 1986. On that day, the rain came down in sheets, at times making it difficult to even read the infield tote board. The weather was far worse that day than what we have had so far on Long Island this morning (it's 8:48, and it's not raining right now). But if that 1986 Belmont Stakes card was postponed for a day or a week because of the weather, then maybe Personal Flag doesn't get caught running all the way on a dead rail and wins that Belmont, and maybe Danzig Connection doesn't provide Woody Stephens with his fifth straight Belmont Stakes victory.

Photo: Danzig Connection wins the 1986 Belmont. Credit: Bob Coglianese/NYRA.