The party was sponsored by Frank Stronach and was held in New York City. Admission was free, but in a slightly odd twist, if you worked for the DRF you were charged 50 cents to use the bathroom.
|Don't let this person in|
The first people I saw were Joe Drape and Sid Fernando; Sid with a craft beer of some sort and Joe with punch. Drape was reading a brand new New York Times editorial.
"It looks like we want to ban the iPad in New York State," said Joe. "We have evidence that some people are still fielding fantasy teams using the iPad and we must stop it before civilization crumbles."
Sid became ashen. The thought of having to buy a Microsoft Surface would make him want to move to Ohio, where there are few Turkish restaurants and no Park Slope.
I saw PETA's Kathy Guillermo chatting with Clark Brewster, but I think they had no idea who each other was. Ray Paulick was seen begging Equilottery's Brad Cummings to come back, "I'll right this wrong and call it the Cummings Report", was overheard. Steve Byk was seen agreeing with various people. CDI executives were seen leaving cheap tips. Stronach was telling stories about when he was a boy in lederhosen. A kerfuffle was heard at the door. It was Inside the Pylons being tossed out for "not complying". The ABR Live team took selfies with him.
Then he walked in and the crowd cheered louder than a Tuesday night crowd at Mountaineer (hey, it was early). American Pharoah.
"Two hundred thousand dollar dong", said horse sex expert Sid Fernando, prompting Barry Irwin to tell anyone in earshot his Animal Kingdom Ascot story.
"You wuz robbed", yelled someone wearing a button with SI's Tim Layden's face crossed out.
After everyone was settled, the first speaker of the night was NYRA's CEO Chris Kay. Chris took the crowd through slides.
"This year at NYRA we made some changes, like charging for picnic tables, increasing fees, upping our signal price, increasing the price of food, beverages, seat covers, beer, programs, parking, TV rights, admission and hidden taxes on secret things I can not divulge." Kay noted."We did that for our guests and they responded. I am happy to report that over 1 billion people went through the turnstiles this year at NYRA racetracks. "
Bloodhorse reporter Tom LaMarra raised his hand and asked "Chris, that's one in seven people on earth, are you sure about that number?"
"Pretty sure", Kay responded.
Next up was Frank Stronach's right hand man Scott Daruty. He thanked people for coming on behalf of his supreme leader and then he made news. He announced he was now running - in addition to Magna betting stuff - Equibase.
Before his first slide he asked for a plate to be passed around and everyone who contributes $1 will get to see the slide. Everyone, curious, did. They were surprised when the slide was simply a past performance of American Pharoah. He announced the money raised on the plate will go to a good cause - The Jockey Club.
Next he detailed a new bet at Magna tracks, the Jackpot Win Bet ®. "If more than one person bets on a winning horse, 98% of the pool is carried over. We think it's innovative and will help get the millenials interested in horse betting" he noted.
Then he left the stage. And this is when the fireworks started.
Daruty made a beeline for American Pharoah, grabbing his lead and making a run for the exits. He was stealing the
"Stop him", yelled someone who looked like the guy who played Kegasus.
In an instant, Scott Daruty who was stealing American Pharoah was being tackled by Scott Daruty.
"Oh God, there are two of them," fretted Horseplayers Association of North America President Jeff Platt.
The second Daruty had the first Daruty pinned and Frank Stronach reached down to the first Daruty.
"Look, he's wearing a mask!" said one of the kids from the ABR bus.
A gasp came over the room when the mask was removed. It was Jonathan Pippen!
"This man has been posing as me for months," said the real Daruty. "All of those things, all that talk, like suing Derby Wars, higher signal fees, jackpot quadruple quarefectas, some of our other strange ideas, they were all him." he continued.
"I can assure everyone here, now that I'm back, things will change. Things will get better, things will improve, so horse racing becomes the greatest game the world has ever seen."
The room erupted. Steve Byk asked the real Daruty to be on his show. Frank Stronach hugged him. Those who knew the words to 'he's a jolly good fellow' sang them.The Zayat's promised Scott two free breedings for saving their horse.
On this Christmas Eve all was right in the horse racing world. American Pharoah was safe, people were smiling and happy. Friends were friends, not enemies. Old foes buried the hatchet. The PETA lady was arm in arm with Brewster, but I still think neither of them knew who each other was. The CDI executives even offered to buy everyone a round of domestic beer.
What started as a celebration of the "one percent gain" ended with horse racing believing it could work together and take over the world. In 2016, the message was clear: It's onward and upward.
To those who celebrate, a hearty Merry Christmas from my family to yours.