Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Low Stakes

Five hours of racing fun equates to sweat, tears, exhaustion, cigar smoke, drunken idiots, horse smell, and empty pockets.  It's my kind of fun.  Instead of watching the Belmont Stakes from home, SMM, AF, Eddie, and I went on over to the track.  When we arrived around 1, the parking lot was on the fuller side.  One of the attendants called out to us, Want to take the bus?  We said sure and climbed aboard the mini school bus they had shuttling people from the parking lot to the race grounds.  Then we were off!  The ride lasted under a minute.  We looked at each other like, That's it?  An older man two rows ahead of us looked back and said, But when you get to my age, there's no shame in it.  True dat.

People swarmed everywhere--on the lawns with picnics, at tables to learn how to bet, in lines for the food carts that sell everything from hummus with too much garlic to tacos to popcorn to pizza to lemonade, to the inside where men and women from all walks of life stared intently at all the monitors to watch races at other tracks.  During the stakes, a highly mixed population attends--the old men who gamble every day, the degenerates who wear stretched-out suspenders that barely hold up their pants, the infants whose parents decided a fun family activity would be to go to the track where people smoke cigars and cigarettes and get so drunk they can't stand, the skanks who pretend to like racing so they can wear dresses so short you can see their hoo-hahs, the rich horse owners in linen suits, the ta-ta women in business suits and Sunday church hats.  And us.  We were there.

Oh, and a guy in a suit was there wearing these on his feet.

So really it was anything goes. 

Time to bet the first race!  SMM, AF, and I were all confused.  Eddie was directing us.  He got everyone programs.  He explained how to read them.  He told us exactly what to say to the people at the betting counter.  He basically held everyone's hand.  Then I made him bet for me because I just couldn't do it.  Maybe next time.  Eddie's a good teacher.  He should open a how to bet the horses school and call it A Class At The Races.

We spent most of the day walking around, checking out the carts, betting, waiting, and then watching the races that took about a minute.  I chose horses the way I usually do.  I chose the best names: Howie's Tiz, Wabbajack, Tenango, Zee Bros, and Finnegans Wake.  Funny thing: the ones with the best names have the worst odds.  Sometimes, that works out all good for me.  This time?  Not so much.  I lost every friggin race.  Not only did I lose, but I'm pretty sure some of my horses simply stopped running and started grazing in the field or napping in the bushes.  It was that bad. 

In the beginning, very few people were outside.  There was some cheering, some shouting, but not much.  As the day wore on, the grounds got more crowded and everything was a little louder.  We watched a bunch of races on the screens out front when we couldn't get through the crowd in time to get back in.

AF found some seats down by the track so we camped out for the last few races, noticing that we didn't understand the tight rules the website lists as to what you can and cannot bring.  It said no coolers and no big bags.  Everyone around us had clearly spent the entire day there with their big insulated cooler bags and huge trays of food. The couple in front of us had printouts of stats on every horse and lots of fruit they peeled and dropped on the floor.   Bringing food was a better idea than buying it considering a bottle of water, a bottle of Coke, and a pretzel was about 20 bucks. 

Oh! Did I mention that Eddie and SMM got free hats?  They'd gone inside because they'd won a race and wanted to get their profits (which they just rolled over into the next race--so not what I would've done), and Eddie saw a booth and was like, They're giving away free things.  I've rubbed off on him.  SMM gave me his hat because neither he nor AF wanted it.  How could they not want a free hat?

For the last race, I chose Freedom Child.  Subconsciously, my mom was probably lurking.  I also thought about Palace Malice, but then remembered that I'd bet two horses on a previous race which made me lose more money than gain it, so I stuck with my first pick.

As we all know, Palace Malice won.  Freedom Child had led the pack the whole way and then finished second to last.  At least he wasn't last.  But that still doesn't get me any profit.  We did not take the mini bus back to the parking lot.  We took the two minute walk.  We got out pretty quickly.  That's what happens when you don't have to wait around on the lines to collect your winnings.  Good for us.

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