'There was the War of 1812 and then there's this'
By CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun
SACKETS HARBOR, N.Y. -- For a few minutes yesterday, this little town on the shores of Lake Ontario was this close to becoming part of sporting legend.
It's still not on the map, still a place you can drive by and miss, which I did yesterday.
You've got to make that right off of Route 3 at the Trading Post, just past the Harbor Motel.
The town, home of the "Sackets Harbor 6," the co-owners of Funny Cide, was turned into one huge living room yesterday afternoon as a few hundred neighbours turned out, quaffed pints in the street and hoped Funny Cide could make history by racing to victory in the Belmont Stakes and becoming a Triple Crown winner.
How big was this for Sackets Harbor?
"Well," said Jack Cantillon, who was standing in front of the The Boathouse restaurant and bar -- owned by a brother of one of Funny Cide's owners.
"There was the War of 1812 and then there's this."
American forces repelled the British when they came ashore here.
There was no stopping the invaders yesterday.
They choked Main Street as the main drag was sealed off at both ends.
"They've got a couple of big screen TVs down there," said one of the policemen from the Sackets Harbor Police Department who was manning the road block on Main St. West.
"I don't think they're Jumbotrons, but pretty big. Forty-two inches, I think."
They filled the restaurants and bars, packed the town's hotel and the bed and breakfasts.
"The hotel is 100% booked," said Cantillon.
"They were rolling out portable beds and putting them in the conference room."
The crowd, an interesting mix, filled up the street in front of the Harbor Master Dining Lounge. There were a couple of big-screen televisions at either end of the porches that ran along the street on either side of the entrance.
There were the year-round residents of the town, like Cantillon, who was wearing a Funny Cide hat and T-shirt, and many of the seasonal visitors who dock their sailboats here and take advantage of the excellent sailing on the eastern shores of Lake Ontario, just a few yards away from Main Street.
"For a horse, this isn't bad," said Mary Winberg, who has been coming here to sail in the summers since 1978, as she surveyed the scene from the west end of the party.
"Did you hear how he gets him to run so fast? He whispers in his ear to think about the snow here in the winter time."
Mixed in with the crowd were teenagers dressed in black ties and formal dresses.
It was the high school prom yesterday, which was probably fitting given the official colours of Sackets Harbor Central School were borrowed for the Sackatoga Stable's silks.
Talk about a big day in a small town (pop. 1,386).
The crowd swelled as post-time approached.
They were into it as Funny Cide, the first New York-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby, broke on top and held the lead until they made the turn into the final stretch
As Funny Cide finished well up the track, slipping to third, a hush fell over the street in front of the Harbor Master.
"Who won?" asked somebody at the back of the crowd on the lawn of the Boathouse.
"I don't know," came the answer. "It wasn't Funny Cide."
At the east end of the street, as many members of the crowd started making their way back to their cars which lined Broad Street, a mother consoled her crying child.
A good ride while it lasted.