Monday, June 18, 2007

A Day at the Races

Each year for the past 3 years we have spent a day at the horse track with my mother. Each year she makes a more elaborate lunch that I am afraid that next year we will have to bring a tablecloth and candlesticks in order to live up to what she has cooked. This weekend she made each of us a distinct grilled sandwich with a variety of veggies and fillings, each on a different type of bread. In addition, each of our bags was stuffed with a brownie, cookies, strawberries and grapes. It was so much food that at the end when I was throwing away my bag I accidentally threw away my brownie and didn't want to reach into the nasty can to fetch it. Bye bye brownie.

The track is always fun because
1 - you get to be outdoors for the whole afternoon
2 - you get to look at beautiful horses running really fast
3 - you get to use logic, reasoning, deduction and luck skills in picking horses
4 - there is a lot of reading between the Program, the Daily News horse race page and the Daily Racing Form, keeping you very very busy
5 - you get to gamble $2 every half hour without there ever being a chance of losing your shirt
6- you get to win every now and then and feel really smart
7 - there is a huge rush and thrill once per half hour when the horses come around the last bend, shuffle their order and race past where you are sitting for a heart pounding 10 seconds of screaming and cheering
8 - where else are you allowed to scream and cheer loudly and not have anybody be mad at you

One thing I noticed around the 4th race was that I was consistently picking the right horses but in the wrong order, thereby winning very little in comparison to what I would have won had my bet been reversed. So I psyched myself out in the 5th race by switching my picks while I was standing at the machine making my bet. And guess what, I won that race!!

The new thing this year at Belmont is that they have gotten rid of all those people at the betting windows who stand around doing nothing but work. What a relief not to have more people with jobs around. I have always looked forward to the day when they replace all humans with ATM-like machines that don't give advice or tell you when you are making a ridiculous bet by saying "are you really sure, most people wouldn't do that" or by politely explaining for the hundredth time the difference between the Exacta and the Quinella or when you can put a box around your bet and when you can't. Those people were always standing there smiling as though they LIKED their jobs. How depressing is that when you are losing big bucks on horse racing. Who wants to see such lively and kind people every half hour, like clockwork, taking your money and bewitching the horses. I'm glad that they have made it as impersonal as possible so that I can bond with the machine which gives off more LED-luck than any human could possibly inspire.

And I would also like to thank the design folks at Belmont for putting the family seating with the picnic tables as far away from the betting machines as possible. I mean, when there were humans, it was understandable that you want to keep them away from your children. Who knows what kind of background checks they did on those people. I am appreciative that they have completely thought through their environmentally friendly policy whereby putting in machines in the right half of the building would really suck electricity straight from the profits and right into global warming. And the exercise all the fat parents get from jogging from the picnic tables to the distant betting machines reduces fat and makes them all think twice about that third pack of cigarettes.

In the end Max won $1.50, Marc lost .80 and I lost $12.00. Max always wins by betting conservatively and hedging his bets by placing money only on Place or Show if he doesn't have a strong feeling for the winner. It's a rare race when he doesn't win at least something back.

All in all, a fun day at the races and no horses had to be put down in front of us - a success by anybody's measure.

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