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Teresa Genaro is a high school English teacher and freelance turf writer whose work has appeared in a variety of turf publications. A former and erstwhile resident of Saratoga Springs, she lives in Brooklyn and writes about New York racing at Brooklyn Backstretch.

New York’s Easy Goer!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

When I had a Significant Birthday a few years ago, my brother and his family presented me with a framed, poster-sized cover of the June 13, 1994 Sports Illustrated:  “Captain Marvelous:  Mark Messier and the Rangers chase that elusive Stanley Cup.”  It was signed by the Captain.

When my brother hit a Significant Birthday not long thereafter, I, in search of a similarly satisfying bit of sporting memorabilia, called his best friend.

“Who’s Michael’s favorite horse?”  I asked.

“Easy Goer” was the unhesitating answer. 

My brother has taught me much of what I know about racing, about pedigree, about betting; he brought me to the Belmont for the first time, and for the last nine years, I’ve run with him from the gates at 7 am on Travers Day to the backyard picnic area, victoriously securing tables for the afternoon’s events.

I’ve been reading Joe Drape’s To The Swift:  Classic Triple Crown Horses and Their Race For Glory, a collection of New York Times articles on the Triple Crown races from 1875 to 2006; earlier this week I finished the chapters on 1989.   Drape includes articles on Sunday Silence’s wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, but surprisingly, missing from the anthology is the report of Easy Goer’s Belmont win. Though I initially suspected that Drape might have been a Sunday Silence fan, I have been assured that editorial considerations, and not those of allegiance, led to the decision to exclude Steve Crist’s piece on Easy Goer’s remarkable victory. 

Crist called Easy Goer’s performance “one of the most impressive in the history of the sport.”  He also noted (dare I suggest a little smugly?) the bicoastal rivalry between Easy Goer and Sunday Silence:

After [the Derby and the Preakness], Sunday Silence’s camp derided Easy Goer’s lofty reputation, saying it was a fiction perpetrated by parochial New Yorkers, and called their California-based colt a cinch to win the Triple Crown. Yesterday, the New Yorkers were gloating a bit.  As Easy Goer crossed the wire, the track announcer, Marshall Cassidy, could not resist saying, “It’s New York’s Easy Goer—in front!”

I recently asked my brother to recall that day at Belmont Park, and here’s what he told me:

My recollection was that the race was a foregone conclusion. No one there ever conceived that he might lose. Seemed to always be the way when he raced Sunday Silence, though Sunday Silence won the majority of the races. Look back and I think you will see that Easy Goer was favored in each of their four head-to-head races. [In fact, Sunday Silence was favored in the Belmont—Easy Goer’s only race in which he was not the favorite.]

Also interesting is how the atmosphere was so different from the other Belmont Stakes with a Triple Crown on the line – where the fans are always so keyed up for a Triple Crown win. No one expected – nor wanted - a Triple Crown winner that day.

He was the fourth horse of 11 with a chance to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978 following Spectacular Bid in 1979, Pleasant Colony in 1981, and Alysheba in 1987; and before Silver Charm (97), Real Quiet (98), Charismatic (99), War Emblem (02), Funny Cide (03), Smarty Jones (04) and Big Brown (08). Sunday Silence was quite possibly the only horse of that group who most of the crowd rooted against.

While that Belmont victory over his nemesis offered vindication for Easy Goer fans, I suspected that the chestnut colt’s win two months later, which joined the favorite horse, the favorite day of racing, and the favorite track, might hold some particularly celebratory value.   So, hanging in the living room is a framed photograph of Easy Goer crossing the wire first in the Travers, along with the race’s program, signed by Pat Day—the birthday gift.

Below, two of Easy Goer’s New York victories—with, of course, Marshall Cassidy’s call in the Belmont:

Comments :

  • Ernie Munick | May 14 2009 04:38 PM

    Mike, the stench of your arrogance just sent me to every corner of my apartment, opening all my windows to the max. Teresa's piece is a thank you to one of ours; she's not dissing Sunday Silence in the least. I am a New Yorker, and it took me at least ten years before I could admit that Sunday Silence was the better horse (he also had the better rider---I'll argue you over that another time). Sunday Silence was a tremendous athlete, a fine champion, NO DOUBT; Easy Goer had a few great moments and one spectacular, historic day. Having said that---no need to be a bully. You're very right about a point Teresa wasn't making. You're just looking to tee off. Easy Goer gave New Yorkers humongous hope, so that one day, the day he beat "the better horse," is held special in our hearts---especially since he did it here in New York. I'm sorry Sunday Silence wasn't great enough to win the Triple Crown, but neither was Spectacular Bid and the Bid could've beaten Sunday Silence anywhere, anytime, at any distance. I got over it. Maybe, sir, you should get over Easy Goer devouring Sunday Silence in New York. A guy who's been around the game since Northern Dancer, by the way, shouldn't need the Bloodhorse to tell him where the best horses rank. That's real light core, actually. Good luck in the Preakness

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  • Teresa | May 14 2009 11:43 AM

    Hi, Mike--thanks for reading and commenting. I am trying to convey here the affection many New Yorkers--and one in particular, to whom I am related--felt toward the Phipps horse, and their pleasure in his win on their home track--to which, after all, this site is devoted. Sunday Silence proved his ability on the race track, and I'd never suggest otherwise. He got the best of Easy Goer, as you note--but when he won here, it made a lot of people happy.

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  • Mike DelNagro | May 14 2009 10:43 AM

    Sunday Silence was high among the guttiest, most talanted and tough big-race horses of my time -- which begins roughly with Northern Dancer, so I’ve observed a few of them. Sunday Silence outgamed Easy Goer in the Derby, the Preakness and the BC Classic. He is ranked No. 31 on Bloodhorse Magazine’s list of the Top 100 racehorses of the 20th century, ahead of Easy Goer. Please stop showing your naiveté in semi-disrespecting him. Easy Goer was great in the Belmont Stakes, but Sunday Silence outshined him in their three other important meetings. Just the facts, ma'am.

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