06/04/2010 9:26AM

Word...and Music

Email

For way too long, the field for the Belmont Stakes has sallied forth to a song originally written for a dark, depressing and overwrought Martin Scorcese version of a big budget musical. "New York, New York," written by John Kander and Fred Ebb, was covered by Frank Sinatra in 1980 and soon after appropriated by just about every New York event that required some kind of public display of affection for the Big Apple. Call it a loyalty oath in 4/4 time.

I never quibbled, because I never had a right, coming to town only once in awhile from California. It was enough just to be at Belmont Park, where more East Coast racing history has been made than all the Pimlicos, Gulfstreams and Churchill Downses put together. Anyway, back home, Randy Newman was doing "I Love L.A," over and over and over and over. So we had that going for us.

When "New York, New York" came around for the Belmont Stakes it was replacing "Sidewalks of New York." This meant fans could no longer share lines like "...trip the light fantastic," but were now required to pledge "...if I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere," whether they believed it or not.

But this is not your daddy's Belmont anymore. On Saturday, "New York, New York" hits the bonepile. Meet the new tune, "Empire State of Mind," words and music by Brooklyn's Shawn Corey Carter, better known as Jay-Z. How this will play as the field hits the track is anybody's guess, but at least Ice Box, Fly Down and First Dude are bringing the right names to the game. The chorus alone from the Alicia Keys version was enough to sell the song as a Belmont anthem. Still, I can't wait until they get to the verse that goes:

Mommy took a bus trip, now she got her bust out/everybody ride her just like a bus route...

Have a great Belmont. Here was one of the best:

Alex Belmont

Mike S More than 1 year ago
"Mommy took a bus trip, now she got her bust out/everybody ride her just like a bus route..." OH NO! I'm so glad that was not part of the Belmont Stakes presentation.
Rosemary Redmond More than 1 year ago
That Empire state of mind was HIDEOUS.Sure" New York,New York" is corny and hokey but everybody knows the tune and words.I booed and hissed at the TV the entire time it was "sung"What a disaster,abomination and sacrilege.I agree that "new York State of Mind" would be a better choice if they wanted a change.
Curt A Vassallo More than 1 year ago
Since they can't get the big mares connections, to come to Belmont Park, 'cause of the "Detention Barns"; maybe they can market a bobblehead giveaway.....Yeah! That'll get them there..What a Stronach-ing idea..& maybe throw in a PRE-retirement parade..
Tom More than 1 year ago
I thought it was interesting that the Network coverage went to commercial before the song was over! Don't think that ever happened with "My Old Kentucky Home" or "Maryland my Maryland". My personal choice would be "Let the Big Horse Run" by John Stewart, after all, Secretariat does own the Belmont...
Susan More than 1 year ago
Thanks Jay, for posting this picture....I had no clue that it existed and I'm in it, taking pictures of Afleet Alex. About the song...whichever version, it's still not appropriate... reminds me of "I didn't read the bill" seems like NYRA didn't read the lyrics...
music critic More than 1 year ago
ONE OF THE DUMBEST MARKETING MOVES OF THE YOUNG CENTURY. AND THEN ALICIA KEYS DOES NOT APPEAR. PROBABLY BECAUSE HER HANDLERS REALIZED IT WAS NOT A GOOD CAREER MOVE. REPLACED BY A 16 YEAR OLD. POOR GIRL LOOKED AND SOUNDED LOST. FIRE THE HEAD OF MARKETING.
Bob Fritz More than 1 year ago
I've had the Jay-Z version of that song jammed down my throat on the radio for months, but I didn't recognize the song until she got to the chorus. Sure, it's a hit right now, but it's not that great a song in either version. I didn't have that much of a problem with "New York, New York." When the Triple Crown was on the line, lines such as "Come on, come through, New York, New York" actually conveyed some excitement. But why mess with "Sidewalks of New York" in the first place? It reminds me of watching the race on TV as a kid and becoming a racing fan. Secretariat hit the track with it--what more do you want?
Tawny Madison More than 1 year ago
Did not enjoy the song. Did enjoy the race.
Pru More than 1 year ago
The song was terrible and she was getting booed. NYRA changes the one thing that didn't need to change. I will hope they go back next year.
Baggs More than 1 year ago
I'm from the younger generation and don't mind the song, but ABC totally butchered this. I told my wife to come upstairs because they were about to play the Sinatra song, which usually gives me goosebumps. When the gal started singing the Alicia Keys song I was ok with it and was getting in the mood for the race until they cut to commercial in the middle of the song! Then during the race I never could tell who was where and Durkin was helping me out at all. ESPN/ABC did a worse job then NBC does with coverage. They didn't even show race 10 after ESPN showed the entire undercard up until that point. When I pulled up the online feed on a internet wagering site a message said I had to to tune to ABC for Belmont coverage. Disappointed.