My Belmont Day

Updated: June 9, 2007, 4:52 PM ET
By Jay Cronley | Special to ESPN.com

Editor's Note: Jay will be dropping by all day with his observations and musings on the 139th Belmont Stakes.

4:48 p.m. ET
Racetrack conversations.

Plan B?

A friend and I stood under a television screen and watched a replay of a race on the under-card from Belmont Park.

We almost won.

Not everybody lost.

"See him," I said.

My friend nodded. How could you miss. A man had a stack of tickets an inch thick.

"He goes through the garbage cans and gets tickets and runs them through the betting machines," I said.

"Which explains why the machines get stuck. Mustard and pickles in there."

"He's had two winners since I've been watching."

"You're kidding."

We watched him run a dozen or so tickets through the betting machine. Nothing. He wiped something off the front of a ticket and sent it in. It wasn't a winner.

My friend said something about this bothered him. He walked over there.

"You need to bet?" the man trying tickets asked, stepping aside.

We said not yet.

"How you doing?" my friend asked.

"Not bad. Couple of little winners."

"You know, somebody bought those tickets you cashed."

"They weren't lost," the man running them through the machine said. "They were thrown away. Nobody said it was their ticket. Better I have them than the track."

Could be hard to argue that.

He said he said he was going to get something cool to drink and asked if we wanted anything.

Thanks anyway, no.

"Guy going through the garbage just offered to give us a hand," my friend said.

3:56 p.m. ET
Racetrack conversations.

Highlights of my team of four great friends putting together an exotic Belmont ticket.

"How's it going?"

"Great."

"Feel unbelievably lucky."

"This is our day."

"Agreed. We own this race."

"It's like a meeting of four mediums."

"All right, let's get started," my friend with the notebook inside a fancy leather folder said. "Now. Hard Spun. The controlling speed. He's on top."

"Wait," somebody said.

"Yeah," I said. "Hang on there a second."

"He's not necessarily the controlling speed," the third great friend said. "Slew's Tizzy is as quick as any of them. Slew's Tizzy could run Hard Spun right into submission."

"Agreed."

"Agreed."

"Disagree," the person with the leather goods said.

"I want Tiago on top," somebody said.

The table fell silent a moment.

"Tiago is the trendy pick. His odds are already down by about half."

"Trendy never wins."

"Trendy and late at Belmont. Ouch."

"Says who?" the one who wanted Tiago on top said.

"Knowledgeable handicappers," the friend who had to have Hard Spun on top said.

"What about Curlin?" the other one said.

"Too short."

"What do you mean too short. You can't let numbers chase you off the winner."

Somebody wanted to key C P West second.

Somebody said not with his money.

"Could I get my pen back?" the one who had loaned it for the figuring of our exotic asked.

Somebody got up to leave.

Somebody said maybe we could get a beer later.

Maybe.

Maybe not.

3:10 p.m. ET
Racetrack conversations.

Belmont day; she said, he said.

I said: "There are a couple of things about a filly running against males at a mile and a half that make me nervous."

She said: "I cannot believe you said that."

"Why?" I said.

"I think you know why. That was an unfair statement. Bringing sex into it."

"We're not talking about applying for a job. We're talking about an animal getting around a gigantic race track."

"All females should have an equal opportunity at sports."

"She's racing. She's in the race. And she gets a five-pound sex allowance. What could be more equal than that?"

She said that she could tell I didn't think the filly had a chance to win.

I said that I though the filly could win. "I'm just not picking her to win."

"Why?"

I explained that I had a mental block about betting horses that had just had their best races on an off track. Who knows how that would translate to a dry surface.

"She was bred to run all day," she said.

"I was bred to understand math. And look what that got me."

"She's winning. I'm winning."

"You have the fatigue factor on your side. I've gotten tired just watching Hard Spun run in the last two races. Imagine how he must feel. And most of the other males look too late to win."

She nodded a little.

"And at most tracks, I'd take a female jockey over a male any day of the week," I said.

End of conversation.

Write to Jay at jaycronley@yahoo.com