My day at the races

One of the reasons that I like going to the races is that for me, it’s an immensely social event; going with friends, eating and drinking, watching the races, talking and hanging out, enjoying good weather—there are, in fact, few more pleasant ways to spend an afternoon.

The only problem with the above scenario is the handicapping distraction: I didn’t spend a lot—OK, any—time with the card on Saturday, so I got to Sunday with pretty much a clean slate in front of me, at both Aqueduct and Gulfstream. That made it a sort of good news/bad news day at the windows, with, unfortunately, a little more bad news than good.

The good news is that I hit a chalky exacta at Gulfstream—much chalkier at post time than when I’d bet it, unfortunately—and a hunch bet, For Michael’s Dad in the fifth at Gulfstream paid $10.80. Given the four generations of Michaels in my family, it was a no-brainer, and it helped to mollify my irriation at not taking Madison and Floyd’s Phil Cat in the 6th. That $13.60 payout would have done me much more good than it does them.

The agony of the day rests in the seventh race. One of my friends excused himself from our table to go down to the paddock to meet up with a trainer friend who had entered Aegean Breeze. “How nice for him,” I thought, blithely continuing with my lunch and wine, chatting away, sitting the race out, enjoying the day and the company…until the horses hit the stretch and I noticed that not only was his horse on the lead, but that Alan’s filly was right behind…and that they were 9 – 1 and 7 – 1 respectively. I sat and watched as my friend got his picture taken in the winner’s circle, and as the $106.50 exacta price got posted. Agony, agony, agony…and I’ve only my own lack of attention to blame.

I don’t know what the opposite of schadenfreude is, but at least the day ended with it, as another of our party hit a $4,000 Pick 4. I’m not sure that I’ve ever been with anyone who’s won that much money at one time, but it gave us a hell of a lot to root for going into the finale, and much made up for any other disappointments in the day.

While gritting my teeth over my lack of focus and subsequent lack of success at the windows, I was reminded again of what a pleasure it is to be at the races. It was warm here, and the sun was melting the snow remaining from our little storm on Friday; good trainers had interesting horses racing; and I was with fun, sociable, racing-loving people, at a table on the glass in the restaurant on the top floor of the clubhouse. One friend got to the winner’s circle, and another won big…so really, who could complain? As I wrote in an e-mail last night, I’ll take a bad day at the windows and a good day with friends, rather than the reverse, any time.

And as the Rangers made it two for two over weekend, one can only go into the week hoping that it’s as good as the weekend.

4 thoughts on “My day at the races

  1. There’s socializing at the track? Who would have thunk it. LOL.I always thought there was an unwritten rule about you were supposed to bet on horses related to the people you are with, horses owned by clients, and other such notions. Or am I the only one that makes those bets, just in case?

  2. I have friends at the track who always insist I spend too much time agonizing over the Form. They have sayings about it, but they escape me at this moment. So yesterday, with such, fine, fine company, I couldn’t not play, so I went to the two-minute drill, which can be just as potent. I guess it turned out OK, eh? Guess who?

  3. Oh, no, Trip, you are not the only one who makes those bets…I just didn’t pay enough damned attention to which race it was. Too many distractions.As for my anonymous friend…is that money burning a hole in your pocket yet?

  4. Boy, there’s a loaded question …Actually, my IRA is calling for some of it, and the taxman for some more, so before there’s none left for fun, I’m sensing a trip to my favorite seafood house is in the offing. This Saturday: Big-Game hunting on yet another Magna 5 safari . . . That is the one bet I want to hit more than any other. I did once, with an enormous payoff of probably twenty grand awaiting my greedy, grubby little hands, hands that singled Corinthian in the final leg . . . The Fountain of Youth, curiously enough. DQ’d after five agonizing minutes and my entire gang immediately grew respectfully silent, knowing no words could soothe my agony or make things better. I closed up my bag and went home to a salve called booze. Corinthian called and profusely apologized and later won the Met Mile for me.

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