Cup of Coffee: Now the News

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In racing news…

Vic Zast’s life will be celebrated this Sunday. A character in a world of characters, Zast died Aug. 6. He was a fragrance executive, racetrack executive, turf writer, golfer, documentary maker, racing fan, friend, father, husband…the list reads long.

I remember when he wanted to write for The Special in our early days. He offered a column a week, I felt like we had arrived – at least, a little – as someone as good as Zast wanted to write for us.

He took me to a Cubs playoff game in 2003. Not any Cubs game, the Steve Bartman game. I happened to be in Chicago that week and he had an extra ticket, of all the friends he had, he welcomed me to my first and only Cubs game. I remember when the game started slipping, just a little, a hit, an error, a run, the Cubs still had a big lead. Zast threw his hands up, “It’s over.” I looked at him and said, “Come on, Vic. You have the lead, you’re OK. Don’t worry.” He just looked at me, a tried and true and battered Cubs fan. In that raspy-Zastian voice said, “Sean, you don’t understand…” Then Bartman tried to catch a fly ball and I understood, it was indeed over.

Vic’s family is hosting a toast at the track and a breakfast reception in Vic’s honor this Sunday. Section J in the Clubhouse, 8-9:30 a.m. Following toasts at the track, please join them for a breakfast reception in Vic’s honor at their home at 33 Fifth Avenue. 10 a.m. to noon. Vic would like a big turnout, a big bash, with lots of laughter and banter.

Jump trainer Eddie Graham is going to Arlington Park with Hardest Core. He’ll try to turn the My Lady’s Manor/Arlington Million double. It’s never been done before.

Larry Collmus was hired to replace Tom Durkin – or I should write –  Collmus was hired as the next announcer at NYRA. No one will replace Durkin. Collmus has worked his way to the top and will undoubtedly carry the torch. Here’s a shout-out to John Imbriale, a true professional who has been a credit to the sport for many years.

Wednesday’s jump race is rescheduled for Monday.

Wayne Catalano is coming home from the hospital after weeks of fighting for his life after catching bird flue and pneumonia. Arlington Park just got a jolt.

Now, in other news…

Violent protests broke out in Ferguson, Mo. after unarmed 18-year-old Mike Brown was shot and killed by police.

A three-day ceasefire is almost over in Gaza. It appears nothing has changed.

Tony Stewart ran over and killed Kevin Ward Jr. Saturday night while driving in a sprint-car race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in upstate New York. Stewart and Ward veered high around a turn and Ward crashed into the wall. The young driver climbed out of his car and ran onto the middle of the track, gesturing at Stewart. Several drivers passed him, Stewart’s car clipped Ward with its right rear tire. Outrage, accusations and sadness ensued. A young man is dead.

Record rain flooded parts of Long Island Wednesday. Saratoga is off the turf, Islip is off the map with 13 inches of rain.

The Ebola virus has erupted across four African nations. Experts have used the term, “unprecedented” to describe the outbreak. I read The Hot Zone 20 years ago. Terrifying.

Robin Williams is dead. The comedic genius died from an apparent suicide. This one rocks you. A man that talented, that (financially) secure, that respected, that loved…struggling that desperately.

Williams served as a GPS for our generation, as we navigated through life; Mork and Mindy, the World According to Garp, Dead Poet’s Society, Good Morning Vietnam, Good Will Hunting, I remember where I was, who I was with, who I was when I saw each for the first time.

I still have the ticket stub from Good Will Hunting, watched with my college roommate Paul Wasserman, in Florida, I felt better when I walked out of that theatre.

Now, he’s gone. Genius is hard to comprehend. Harder now.

Lauren Bacall died Tuesday. What man didn’t fall for her? That sultry voice and those lines, delivered like hot fudge over a vanilla ice cream cone. “It’s even better when you help,” as she walks away in To Have and Have Not. Then, even better, “You don’t have to say anything and you don’t have to do anything. Not a thing. Oh, maybe just a whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.” Yowza.