Former New York Racing Association executive Bill Nader missed his first Belmont Stakes (gr. I) in more than a decade. Nader was named executive director of racing at the Hong Kong Jockey Club and relocated to Hong Kong in April.
1-- Where did you watch the race?
"I plan on watching the race on my computer at 6:30 a.m. Hong Kong time. None of the Triple Crown races were picked up here by television."
2-- What is like watching the Belmont from the other side of the world?
"It is extremely frustrating for a number of reasons. I can feel so close to family and friends by phone and email, but feel so far away when there is only token coverage and interest in the Triple Crown series. More people here knew the Queen was in Louisville than Street Sense in the winner’s circle (after winning the grade I Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands). Here I am 8,000 miles from home in a place where average daily handle is US$105 million and horse racing is the national sport, and I am reading about cricket and rugby. Americans are no better. They should know more about good horses like Vengeance of Rain, Viva Pataca and Medic Power, but they don’t. I didn’t until I got here and now I understand how far racing has to go and grow as a sport. We are all missing out."
3-- Do you miss about being in New York on Belmont day?
"I miss it more than I thought and I thought a lot. It is such a great day of racing and it is incredible to see New York come alive at such a historic and beautiful venue. The Belmont Stakes and Saratoga were my two favorite times of the year."
4-- How have you been keeping up with the Triple Crown races?
"I can tell you everything about this year’s Triple Crown. I am still addicted."
5-- What was your all-time favorite Belmont?
"My favorite Belmont was Birdstone and Smarty Jones in 2004. To see Belmont Park basking in the glory of over 120,000 fans and little Birdstone upset Smarty Jones was something I will never forget. It was one of the greatest days in Belmont Park history and there have been many."
6-- What did you miss most about Belmont week and the planning?
"I miss being so involved and the ideas that pop in your head about how you could push things a little further, make things a little better. I miss working with everybody and watching people find renewed motivation to make sure that the Belmont Stakes and Belmont Park was presented picture perfect. I miss everything about Belmont week, including Fran LaBelle singing at the press party."
7-- How have you adjusted to Hong Kong living?
"It is absolutely great here. Driving is still a challenge, but horns are honking at me with less frequency. The people here have been incredibly nice to me and racing is king, so the adjustment is easier than I could have ever imagined. I really hope some American-based horses, trainers, jockeys, and media make it to Hong Kong when we have four big money, Group I international races on turf."
Nader was interviewed via email by Leslie Deckard June 9 from Belmont Park.