And after Mitch and I went on a…
While the official start of summer was Monday, for the TimesLedger Sports Department it was June 13 when reporter Mitch Abramson covered the Mayor’s Cup individual tournament, the last high school event of the season.
And after Mitch and I went on a quick tour of Queens high schools to get head shots of our All-Queens teams, which will run the next three weeks, I decided to pamper myself a bit.
With no games to cover on a Friday for the first time in what feels like 35 years — which would be difficult because I have yet to turn 30 — I decided June 18 would be Dylan Day.
And the main event for Dylan Day would be my first trip of the season to beautiful Belmont Park.
I didn’t cover the Belmont Stakes this year — Mitch did — as I covered the youth soccer State Cup in Plainview, but I’ve been itching to get back to Belmont.
The last time I went was a Friday last summer, when I did pretty good for myself by betting my now-favorite jockey Edgar Prado as many times as I could.
Originally planned as a group outing, Dylan Day became a solo event when, one by one, my friends dropped out. Some nonsense about work, responsibility, blah, blah, blah.
But that was fine. Knowing Prado was racing several times and armed with some advice my late grandfather once told me (Always bet the horses with alliteration in their names, i.e. Dynamite Doug or Fast Freddy), I did a little homework by buying the Daily Racing Form in the morning.
I admit I’m a bit of a novice when it comes to studying the ponies, but I read up on each horse, double-checked for Prado and looked for alliteration.
Over lunch, I charted my course to make some serious money. By the time the check came I had all my exactas and trifectas picked and was ready to venture off to Belmont.
Problem was that I was so engrossed with my homework — that has to be the first time in my life I ever said that — that I realized I had already missed the first three races.
I raced out onto Hempstead Turnpike, which anyone in that part of Nassau County can tell you is more of a crawl at 4 p.m.
For fun, or torture, I turned on 1010 WINS to hear the results of the third race, which was the first I decided to bet on. Wouldn’t you know that I picked the winner (Aggadan, ridden by Prado, of course) and the exacta (Aggadan-Key Deputy).
There goes $73.75 I would have won if I was there!
Undaunted by that missed opportunity I made it to Belmont with about two minutes to spare before the fifth race.
Feeling confident I blurted out my bets like a pro. “Yeah, lemme do a $5 tri with 7-13-8 and lemme…”
The teller stopped me short. Apparently, there was no 7 and there was no 13.
Slightly embarrassed I made my bets on the fly for the race, which now was about one minute to post. I put $5 down on Tuesday Prayer to win and the 1-4 combination of Tuesday Prayer and Right Out Ro for a $5 exacta.
I could lie and say I picked Tuesday Prayer because it set the pace in its turf debut this year or that Right Out Ro was due after going winless in its first six turf starts.
I just picked two numbers and crossed my fingers.
About two minutes later I was $108.50 richer thanks to those picks.
Maybe I looked like I knew what I was doing but soon I found myself in a conversation with an old man with an unbuttoned shirt who was asking me why he bet the 1 (Tuesday Prayer) to show and not to win?
And then he told me his theory about the seventh race being fixed if a certain horse didn’t “come in the money.”
I nodded my head and decided to treat myself to a cold beverage as I prepared for the next race.
I wasn’t as lucky with the sixth as Liverpool Lad (there’s my grandfather’s alliteration for you) lost to Rubi Echo by a nose in a photo finish.
After receiving a refund because of a late scratch in the seventh, and winning $27.50 when Onemorefashion won, it was on to the eighth where I had a little fun.
I had several combinations going, including betting the Prado-ridden Golden Commander to win and putting it in an exacta with Indy Dancer, but this was going to be my race to pick a long shot.
I went with Vanity Affair, which was almost a 20-1 shot. There was no rhyme or reason with this one, either, just a hunch, I guess.
And wouldn’t you know it came on strong at the end of the race and won, paying me a cool $104.50.
I was unsuccessful in the ninth, but then I went back to the teller, the same teller who probably thought I was an idiot two hours earlier, to collect my winnings. All told I won $250.10.
Hmmm, maybe Dylan Day won’t be an annual event.
Reach Sports Editor Dylan Butler by E-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.