Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Swifty's on a Roll....

I was fortunate enough to miss the blizzard in NYC this weekend. This is a bit of a bummer since I won't have any Snowmaggedon of 2006 stories (missed the blackout, too...but I do have a scintillating 9/11 story!!) Luckily, I was spending quality time at the Sarasota Kennel Club with my family as the snow began to fall. That's right. Me and my family at the dog track. Somehow, I was born into a family that defines family fun as betting on any kind of animals running in a circle.

As the track gods love to do, I literally just walked in and won $50, hitting a Quinella and the winner on the first dog race I have ever seen. This, by the way, happens EVERY time someone comes to see the ponies with me. They hit the first race and taunt me with it: "Hey Susan. This is easy. Why don't you win more?? I'm a frickin' genius."

Right. Check all those geniuses down at the OTB on Manhattan Avenue. And that's why I'm a millionaire.

While I like to think I "know what I'm doing" at the horse track, the dogs made no sense to me. What are we looking for -- Good breeding? Skinny legs? Frisky feet? Snapping jaws? No clue. I tried asking some of the fellas sitting on benches outside smoking themselves into an early grave. Turns out they didn't have a clue either. It was allll about the gambling for these old duffers, not the sport. I know, that's a big shocker. I still don't know if there's a pot to be won for the owners or how the races are graded, or much of anything beyond laying down the money. Or maybe, just maybe, there's no sport to be had here.

The races come fast and furious at the dog track, perhaps because it takes much less time and money to get a dog out onto a track than a horse. The card is 14 races, with grades ranging from A-D, D being the lowest class. Betting is pretty much like the horses, (doubles, exactas, tris, and supers) and in fact, the Autotote machines (betting via a touchpad self-service machine instead of a window) offered betting on all the dog and horse races being run across the country on Saturday.

Somewhere between 6 and 14 dogs are loaded into creaky-looking wooden boxes with paint peeling off them at the start of the 5/16 of a mile race. A stuffed white fake rabbit on a metal stick is launched on some sort of rolling track on the interior of the course, gaining speed as it approachs the greyhounds, with the announcer muttering on the loudspeaker "And Swifty's on a rollllllllll." As the rabbit passes the boxes, the call is made "There's Swifty!" and the dogs are released, reaching speeds up to 45 mph during the race. About 30 seconds later, the race is over. Kind of a fun way to spend a day and not that depressing either. But then again - I find Aqueduct in January to be "not that depressing."

My brother Mike claimed that at another dog track he went to, the rabbit was named Lucky. But he also said he was really drunk, so maybe he made that up for a good story. (Photos and "Snowmaggedon" courtesy of him ©Kowie2006). Either way, I really hope every track has its own name for their rabbit.

There was a group of older ladies there dressed in red and purple clothing that my mom said was the "Red Hat Club" or something. Apparently, it's a way them to be really colorful and go to the dog track. I guess there are these clubs formed all over the country so chicks looking for fun can hang out together and not stay home. Fair enough. They awarded a trophy for a race AND let me be in the photo. Hmm. Am I peering into my future....

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Eatin' Out - Despaña

408 Broome Street, just past Centre
Despaña, a Queens-based wholesale importer of Spanish foods, recently opened a retail store on the outskirts of far eastern Soho. While providing customers with such Spanish delicacies as tinned olives, honeys, olive oils and vinegars, there's also a sandwich counter at the back of store turning out yummy bocadillos (i.e. small sandwiches) made of cured Spanish meats and cheeses served on Sullivan Street ciabatta bread.

Great for lunch, lots of samples are available throughout the store, and the personable staff is more than willing to assist you as you taste various manchegos and chorizos. Go for the pork loin, manchego and membrillo (quince) sandwich.

Eatin' Out - Roebling Tea Room

143 Roebling@Metropolitan in WBurg, Brooklyn
A lovely place recently opened by a member of the Lunachicks, I found the Tea Room to be a really nice to catch up with friends. The renovation work done on the 1st floor of a dark red residental/former factory building (went to more than one party here in the 90s...I vaguely remember Matthew singing Dolly Parton on the roof....but I digress) to create this space is great - the space is welcoming yet open with huge vaulted windows looking onto beeyoootiful Metropolitan Avenue. There are tables if you want to sit down for a more "formal" dinner, an outdoor area that should be good in warmer weather, as well as couches and soft chairs for simply hanging out with the paper.

The simple menu consists of well-prepared sandwiches, salads and snacks with lots of vegetarian options, and is reasonably priced and tasty. Choices include a Bratwurst sandwich, lemon caper tuna salad, a smoked salmon plate and several kinds of crostini.

I'd come here all the time if I lived around the corner. And went to tea rooms. Which I may now be doing, since I'm a tea drinker...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Who Doesn't Love GOOD Gossip??

Now get off your high horse, and revel in this site as the baseball companion to groupiedirt.com.

Described as: "Think of 'On the DL' as Page 6....but all about baseball. Read juicy blind items and let your mind ponder over which dirty major leaguer it might be. Send us your guesses and gossip! We love the baseball dirt!"

Yes, we do. And what do we learn from both of these sites? Rich, famous guys are dirtbags whenever given the opportunity.

p.s. Page Six comes out as a 76-page glossy magazine edition in tomorrow's Post.