A trip to any of the Triple Crown tracks can be quite the odyssey. When it’s the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown is on the line, things get ramped up a notch. Or 20 notches. Maybe 100 notches.
The 2014 Belmont Stakes was unquestionably quite an adventure, for California Chrome (who lost), for his connections (some showed grace in defeat, others not so much) for NYRA (which put on a spectacular card of racing, got a big crowd and a huge amount of betting) and for racing fans (who were treated to great drama but endured myriad issues that prevented many from enjoying the day).
TIHR’s Joe Clancy was one of the 102,199 fans who filled Belmont Park for the 146th running of the Belmont and he brought along five family members. A few days after the dust settled from California Chrome’s flame out and Tonalist’s victory, Joe penned a column in his The Outside Rail blog titled “A long and winding Belmont journey” that detailed many part of the trip.
“The players? Joe Sr. (79); Joe Jr. (49); Jack (18 and a high-school graduate as of the night before); and Nolan (13),” Joe wrote. “We met Ryan (21) at Penn Station in Manhattan, with Molly Urell-Poe (20?) tagging along for her first real racetrack experience. The train from Wilmington, Del. was smooth, great. I slept. Jack messed with his new laptop. Nolan Kindled. Papa Joe (that’s what the kids call him) read the Form.”
The first half of the piece outlined the experience at the races, which wasn’t all that out of the ordinary for a big day. Security checks, long lines, overpriced concessions, crowds, entertainment, good racing, tickets cashed and torn up.
“We were shepherded, herded, wanded,” Joe wrote. “Our bags were searched. People were happy, the security personnel efficient and friendly. A couple of guys with Coors Light cans got told they couldn’t bring them in so they downed them instead; I cringed inside when Ryan took one, but he is 21.”
The start of the second half of the piece – Then the fun began – hints at what laid ahead for the Clancy crew, starting with getting on the train at the end of the Belmont grandstand. It winds its way from a train to a bus, to Penn Station, to the New York Hotel and Tick-Tock Diner in Manhattan and so much more.
These words don’t do it justice. Read on.
Other stories in the 14 for 2014.
No. 10: Snowbirds
No. 11: Goodbye Dominic
No. 12: For Madison