The Week That Was: Justifiably Great

      I admit that I wasn’t as surprised that Justify won the Belmont Stakes, and in the process the Triple Crown, but rather that the horse won from wire to wire. Not that he probably needed the good fortune but having the first post position right near the rail cut down the distance to the finish line and he and his jockey, Mike Smith, took proper advantage of it.

     Post positions were determined at the annual Belmont Stakes draw which was held last Tuesday at Citi Field’s Foxwoods Club. Middle Village native son Mike Repole, who founded Vitamin Water before selling it for a fortune to Coca-Cola (he has since started a new sports drink company, Body Armor on the old Whitestone Expressway location of Vitamin Water), has long been both a diehard horse racing and a Mets fan.

     Repole knew that the odds of either of his horses, Vino Rosso, which won the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct in early April, and Indy Noble of beating Justify were pretty slim after they drew the eighth and ninth post positions respectively in the mile-and-a-half race. Nevertheless Repole, who graduated from Holy Cross High School and St. John’s University, and still thinks of himself as Mike from Queens, told me he’d happy to be a part of history if Justify did win the race.

    When I asked him if he thought that the Mets could turn things around this season he quickly replied, “No way. Wait until next year!”

     Mets fans who may be hoping that Mike might consider approaching the Wilpon family about buying the Mets will be disappointed. Right now, he is just concentrating on horse racing as opposed to getting into the world of professional team ownership.

      A Triple Crown winner always raises the profile of thoroughbred racing so this is a gigantic opportunity for the New York Racing Association to get customers to visit beautiful Belmont Park for the rest of June and July until the racing shifts to Saratoga.

     NYRA hired the ‘90s rock band Third Eye Blind to perform on Belmont Stakes Day which is the one day that crowds show up anyway. Forty years ago Belmont Park used to regularly host concerts in its beautiful backyard with name entertainers before the first race or after the last one on weekends and holidays. Then the music stopped and so did the crowds.

       Chris Kay, NYRA’s CEO, told me at Citi Field that he may try to sign name oldies acts who play the summer country fair circuit such as KC & the Sunshine Band to play at Belmont’s leafy backyard.

       Attracting new customers to horse racing would be a smart move before pro sports team gambling comes to New York and then all bets will be off regarding the sport of kings.   

     The Mets needed to win one game in the Subway Series to keep their season from completely imploding and thanks to a great pitching performance by Seth Lugo, who was pressed into service only after Noah Syndergaard reported swelling on a finger this past Friday, they were able to accomplish that.

     Lugo outdueled Yankees ace Luis Severino as the Mets became the first team to shut out the Yankees this season by a score of 2-0 thanks in large part to third baseman Todd Frazier’s two-run home run.

     Even if it was a frustrating Subway Series for the Mets, as most of them tend to be, Lugo enjoyed a great weekend. Not only did he get the only win for the Mets against the Yankees but he was interviewed by “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert for a comedic bit in front of the Mets dugout on Friday afternoon.

     Colbert, and veteran TV actor Patrick Wilson, sang the national anthem before the first game of the Subway Series. They were initially booed (I guess there were a lot of Trump supporters at the ballpark and the President is a favorite foil for Colbert) but they performed “The Star Spangled Banner”so well that there was only applause when they finished.

     The Mets released veteran first baseman Adrian Gonzalez following their Sunday night victory which ended a dreadful eight-game winning streak. The Mets’ bats have been ice cold even in the few games that they have won recently and Gonzalez, who stuck out three times in the Sunday night win, paid the price. It also didn’t help his cause when he made a fielding error in the sixth inning of the first game of the Subway Series Friday night that opened the doors to the Yankees’ first run off Jacob deGrom.

     Adrian Gonzalez was brought in as an insurance policy to give first base prospect Dominic Smith more minor league seasoning. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson figured that the Mets got their money’s worth out of Adrian and since the odds of the Mets making the post-season seems remote at this point he might as well see if Smith is a bona fide major leaguer.

     The best golfers in the world will be participating in the US Open taking place starting today and going through Sunday at the Shinnecock Hills County Club in Southampton, Long Island. Traffic is a nightmare heading east in June even when there are no special events out there so the best bet is to take the Long Island Railroad from Jamaica.

      As was the case in 2004 when the US Open was last held here there will be a special train station that leaves you off right at the golf course. Hopefully the LIRR will do a better job this time around. I remember waiting an hour in line just to get on a train to get me back to Jamaica.

   Baby boomers who remember the 1970s should enjoy a pair of summer TV offerings.

   “American Woman” stars Alicia Silverstone as a young Beverly Hills mom with two daughters who suddenly has to adjust to life after a painful divorce. The show airs Tuesday nights at 10 PM on the Paramount Network (formerly Spike TV) and it is loosely based on the childhood recollections of Bravo TV personality Kim Richards. The show features numerous 1970s pop hits as its background soundtrack.

     I wasn’t crazy about the first season of Showtime’s look at the late 1970s LA stand-up comic scene, “I’m Dying Up Here,” because it moved at a snails pace and the characters weren’t very interesting.

     Things have changed for the better in season two thanks to the addition of the always welcomed Brad Garrett as a manic comedy club owner named Roy whose mood changes in a nano-second.

    “I’m Dying Up Here” airs at 10 PM on Showtime.

About the Author

Get connected with us on Social Media