By Bob Ehalt
If you happen to have a picture of Aqueduct Racetrack from
around 2009, put it in a safe place.
It’s destined to become a collector’s item.
Those not so long ago days of Aqueduct masquerading as a
ghost town are rapidly moving into the past, with the combination of New York
City Off-Track Betting’s demise and the opening of the Resorts World Casino New
York City making the Ozone Park track a red-hot destination.
And, don’t look now, but there’s more company on the way as
NY Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to add a huge convention center to the complex.
Amazing, isn’t it, how the bells, whistles and buzzers of a
slot machine can bring a business back from the dead as Aqueduct is suddenly as
crowded as Saratoga.
Which can create a problem, that we’ll call the Yogi Berra
Decades ago, Berra came up with a funny yet wise remark when
he uttered, “Nobody goes to that place anymore, it’s too crowded.”
There is some logic to that as the New York Racing
Association, after needing little more than a skeleton staff at Aqueduct — and
Belmont for that matter — suddenly has a small army of people to service. A
visit to the Big A on New Year’s Day found long lines trying to get into the
track’s parking lot and long lines at the betting windows.
In an era when it’s actually more efficient to wager online
from home, the last thing NYRA needs is a deterrent to attend and bet on the
With a walkway between the track and casino now open and
streams of people using it, a good resolution for NYRA in 2012 would be to
spend some of its new-found gold from the casino on staff and equipment at the
Big A to keep its customers happy.
Judging by the crowds at the casino and the construction
plans being voiced by Gov. Cuomo, those days of spending a quiet day of
solitude at the Big A are long gone.