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LIers Come Out for a Day at the Races

Long-Shot Drosselmeyer Defies Odds, Wins Stakes

The 142nd Belmont Stakes had all the makings of a great sports story, complete with a $1 million prize and a dark horse who did not give up. Long Islanders watched in amazement as the 13-1 long-shot Drosselmeyer galloped his way into victory on a hot afternoon at Belmont Park.

Drosselmeyer, a 3-year-old chestnut colt, was excluded from the Kentucky Derby because of insufficient graded stakes earnings, yet managed to outrun First Dude and held off Fly Down by a mere three-quarters of a length to seize the final leg of the Triple Crown.

For Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott and jockey Mike Smith, the win was a milestone moment in their long careers. “It was a great trip. It was all about getting into the rhythm and we did it. It worked out. It was incredible. It’s great to come home (after winning two Grade 1 races) today for trainer Bill Mott,” Smith said.

According to the New York Racing Association, a crowd of 45,243 wagered $7,598,840 on Belmont Stakes Day races, a 15.6 percent decrease over $8,998,630 in 2009. An additional $630,479 was wagered at Belmont on incoming simulcasts, bringing the total on-track handle to $8,229,318 compared to $9,632,241 in 2009, the record Belmont Stakes Day on-track handle for a non-Triple Crown year. Notable attendees included Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and Governor Paterson. Making a surprise appearance were Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd, in support of their horse, “First Dude,” who finished in third place.

Despite the blazing heat, fans exemplified their racing spirit by dressing up for the occasion. Hats, the must-have accessory of choice, ran the gamut from plain bonnets to elaborately trimmed chapeaus. Shana Reade of Brooklyn showed off her eBay purchase much to the delight of spectators, while Mastic resident Laura Van Schaick dressed in a straw-colored sun hat, attended just to be a part of the nostalgia that is associated with the Belmont Stakes. “I am having a lot of fun…This is my second time ever here. I was probably here as a kid because my grandfather used to work here,” Van Schaick said.

Floral Park resident Ellie Dinnetz placed a few bets but was not concerned with winning or losing. “I am not very good at it [betting],” Dinnetz stated, adding “I’ll see if I win anything; if not it’s just for the fun and excitement of it.”