ROWS GARDEN 80 — HARDER
ROWS GARDEN 80 — EASIER
Rows Garden 80 Harder — Solution
Rows Garden 80 Easier — Solution
I did promise a short write-up regarding last week’s puzzle, so if you still haven’t solved #79 yet, a) SOLVE IT RIGHT NOW AS IF YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT, and b) skip the spoiler ahead. I repeat: there are major spoilers in the next paragraph.
MAJOR SPOILERS ABOUT PUZZLE #79 BELOW!
Obviously the seed for #79 was ILL HAVE ANOTHER. I fancy myself a fan of horse racing and was especially excited for last Saturday’s Belmont, mostly to watch the climax of I’ll Have Another’s run at the Triple Crown. I was even considering putting a bet on the horse, but his odds were so short that it was hardly worth it (I believe he was 6-5 at one point). Considering both his Derby and Preakness wins were late comebacks, it seemed like the longer track at Belmont would perfectly suit the horse, as it’s designed to reward stamina and late speed. So I was confident in the horse’s ability, and felt good that the 34-year Triple Crown drought would end.
I usually start writing the grid on Tuesday or Wednesday of the week preceding, and I knew ILL HAVE ANOTHER was my seed. Surprisingly, it was not an easy entry to work around; those look like friendly letters from afar, but it was a struggle. I especially liked that the equally-equine DRESSAGE was under at C1, and HORSE TRADERS came later on. As of Friday morning, when I’m usually ready to clue the grid, I was all set.
And then the news came that ILL HAVE ANOTHER was scratched. I was disappointed first as a horse racing fan, because nothing but a Triple Crown chase could spark interest in a sport struggling to stay relevant. Then I realized my puzzle could be in jeopardy; I had figured that even if the horse lost, I could clue it as “Nth horse to lose the Belmont after winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown,” as there have been plenty of close calls since Affirmed won the Crown in 1978. But somehow I thought the scratch sort of negated the buzz leading up to the Belmont; ILL HAVE ANOTHER would seem belated in its “crossworthiness” and maybe not all that worthy of a puzzle inclusion to begin with.
Begrudgingly, I set out to edit the puzzle. Again, not an easy edit, even with only two rows being changed. OBAMACARE came out at Row A; ANGELS AND DEMONS was there in Row B, and there were a few more so-so entries. I didn’t love OBAMACARE due to its overtly political connotation (and negative connotation, to some), and then it was debuted by David Quarfoot in Saturday’s NYT themeless, which again was disappointing. And both the book and the film use an ampersand instead of “AND” in ANGELS AND DEMONS — a slight inelegance, but an inelegance nonetheless.
Thanks to test-solver Jon Delfin, I was convinced to go with my original draft. As it turned out, ILL HAVE ANOTHER’s scratch was newsworthy in a unique sense; the minor controversy became water-cooler talk (of course, the horse’s trainer was no doubt making the call for financial reasons, as the horse would have been worthless if it had suffered a fatal injury during the race). So, in the end, ILL HAVE ANOTHER avoided a scratch at AP.com, and I hope you enjoyed the puzzle. Feel free to voice your opinions of his “crossworthiness” in the comments.