Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Big Sky at the Big A

There is much to be said for the view from the Belmont Park grandstand across the track this time of year, when the trees that form the backdrop to the chute reveal their true colors -- flaming orange, deep burgundy, high-impact yellow. On the south side of the building, the foliage that clings to the walls is just as glorious but slower to turn and therefore largely unappreciated with the move to Aqueduct.
From the pressbox at the Big A, one can see the top of the Belmont Park grandstand situated at about 11 o'clock on the horizon about eight miles away, but it might as well be eight light-years away, so different are the two entities. If Belmont Park is the grande dame of the family, then Aqueduct is its Joe the Plumber. But was it Einstein who said, "A good plumber is infinitely more estimable than a bad philosopher?" There is much to recommend Aqueduct over Belmont in terms of interior comforts as the days shorten and the temperature drops.
There is also My View, a sweeping 180 degree panorama that starts with the unusually high ridge to my left; the end moraine of the rocks and dirt and silt scraped up and then deposited by the last glacier some tens of thousands of years ago, the outwash of which formed Long Island itself. Slightly to the left of center is a cluster of brown apartment buildings, built on the site of the old Jamaica Racetrack, and slightly to the right looms the control tower for JFK airport. Completing the semicircle is Jamaica Bay itself and beyond it, the Rockaways, home to the hawks which occasionally swoop over the infield in search of prey. But most of all, there is the sky.
Opening day, it presented a curious and ever-changing mix of clouds, gathering and darkening to occasionally spit showers, then parting to reveal a freshly washed expanse of blue that was mirrored in the infield lakes around which brown and gray horses raced. Later, creeping east along the Belt Parkway, the rear-view mirror was filled with breathtaking hues of pink and orange and purple, that, when I finally turned into Belmont Park, rendered the dying leaves almost insignificant.


Jellyberry said...

Brooklyn was right: Beautiful piece.

Thanks for all the years of fine writing.

Mary Forney's Blog said...

Very nice post. I am adding your site to my follow list, and look forward to new insights into racing on the "other" coast. Blog on!