08/27/2007 10:42AM

Show the World You Care


by the belt you wear if you want to get out of Saratoga Springs without a final dent to your bankroll.

Finally got the house closed up and the cars loaded with dogs and five weeks of accumulated detritus about 2 p.m. Sunday and headed for the Thruway entrance at the foot of Union Avenue. Traffic in front of the track was at a crawl, as if it were half an hour before first post Travers Day instead of three races into the day-after card. Turns out it was a police checkpoint and I was one of the lucky ones told to pull over to the side of the road.

We sit there for five minutes, with the dogs and I all whining out loud and the officer finally comes up to the window and asks "What brings you to town, sir?" I'm wondering if he's being a wiseass, since we're 10 feet from the gate to the track, and then consider being a wiseass myself and telling him I heard there was a racetrack around here somewhere, but being a wiseass with the cops is a low-percentage play so I just say "The racing." Then he asks "How long are you planning to stay?" and now I'm getting all ACLU about this and wondering what exactly entitles him to demand my intentions and itinerary since I'm clearly sober as a steward, so I tell him a little testily, "I was actually trying to leave," and that gets me a harsh "License and registration" demand. He disappears for 15 minutes and comes back with a ticket. Seems I wasn't wearing my seatbelt, but he says he's generously letting me off with a warning for that and presents me instead with a more insurance-friendly ticket for an expired inspection sticker.

I'm sure the checkpoint will be back closing weekend, so buckle up. And if you're driving back to the city or Long Island, do what I finally did after years of seven-hour Sunday-afternoon crawls downstate on the Thruway: Take the Taconic instead. (Just remember: NO rest stops for almost three hours and really bad cellphone reception.) The only straw in my path was a sudden slowdown halfway down that at first looked like another checkpoint but wasn't: It was a line of cars waiting for a gorgeous but frightened little doe, inches from the road, thinking long and hard about darting across the highway before running back into the woods.

It's great to be home and other than the checkpoint it looks like I picked the right card to travel through yesterday. I missed some nice performances by War Pass(who got a Beyer 93), Daaher(106) and Maryfield(100) that I'll write about when I get caught up, but also some impossible-looking results like that Dr. Rico from Suffolk Downs.

And I see there shall be no rest for the weary traveller since you were nice enough to leave an $81k carryover for the final card of Week 5. The first leg is a beaut, with 11 first-timers in a field of 13 statebred 2-year-old fillies. [Update: 5 late scratches on a sunny day, as if they're all afraid of someone, so watch the board.] Time to buckle down.

Teresa More than 1 year ago
Wayne: at the north end of the Parkway, you should see the Mobil station/diner on the left as you come around a corner and down a little hill. Further down, take the exit for Salt Point Turnpike; the Stewart's is to the left.
wayne More than 1 year ago
Watch the speed traps on the Taconic, otherwise beautiful ride. Will note the restrooms. Are there signs?
ccpdpio More than 1 year ago
Steve: 1. Ditto to Bob's post on your checkpoint experience. And by the way, you WERE being a wiseacre. It's because of our veterans and police officers that we are able to enjoy life's pleasures such as glorious Augusts at the Spa. 2. Enjoyed TDT's post. He's an excellent race caller and his book on Suffolk Downs is the only racing book I've enjoyed more than your own. I was a college student in Boston during the Bill Veeck ownership of Suffolk. If I had spent less time at Suf and more time studying, maybe I would have graduated! 3. Before you think I am just a grouch, please accept my thanks for a truly great blog over the past 5 weeks. It's the first thing I look for every morning. Like others have written, your postings are the next best thing to actually being there. Thank you again.
EJXD2 More than 1 year ago
CCPDPIO: Isn't it an oxymoron to suggest that Steve should give up his freedom to the people who protect it?
Mike D. More than 1 year ago
** Stop whining about the safety check. Be glad your an American, pay your taxes and wear your seat belt !!!** Whoa! Not to get, as a great horseplayer recently said, "all ACLU" on you, but are these checkpoints even legal? Isn't there supposed to be -- according to the U.S. Constitution -- some kind of "probable cause" to search a citizen? Is there a lawyer on the blog?
Steven Crist More than 1 year ago
Teresa: Are you sure both are still open? One place with a Mobil sign and restrooms was closed down and boarded up.
Teresa More than 1 year ago
No rest stops on the Taconic, but the diner/Mobil combo on the left about thirty minutes into the ride, and the Salt Point Turnpike exit an hour after that, both provide gas/food/restrooms for the weary. Did the drive myself last night and made it Saratoga to Brooklyn in 3:30.
Brian More than 1 year ago
I just finished your book "Betting on Myself" and loved it, especially the Johnny Campo trenchcoat story. But how can a guy smart enough to hit the Pick 6 a ton of times not know to whip that seat belt on when you see a police checkpoint?
chisox More than 1 year ago
That's inexcusable that the cops kept you waiting for 20 minutes. Since the officer didn't recognize you he obviously is not a big fan of racing.
bochalls More than 1 year ago
Maybe Pletcher should endure a police checkpoint....we need to find out what happened to all his horses (he IS 3rd in the trainer standings). Hurtin man...Travers weekend put a large dent in an otherwise profitable meet. meriwether Jessica is my money play today in R5