STARS AND STRIPES
AND THEY'RE OFF!
INTERCOASTAL (WINNER OF RACE 4)
ONE STARRY NIGHT
LADIES OF THE RACETRACK
SHOULD I PICK "HEY BABE" OR "NAUGHTY YOU?"
NANCY & JIMMY
WE'RE NO GOOD AT GAMBLING, BUT HAVING FUN ANYWAY
Jimmy has worked in the horse racing industry for over 30 years, and the main draw for visiting Saratoga, in addition to being a stopping point to break up a long drive to a farm near Lake Champlain, where we are headed off to tomorrow, is that we could get a private tour of the track by someone who knows seemingly every employee, jockey, trainer, and owner by name. By 6:30 in the AM, we were at the track watching the horses exercise and seeing what goes on behind the scenes at the oldest horse racing track in the United States. These thoroughbreds are treated better than children, and seeing them pampered is a far cry from the way some farm animals are treated. Some of these horses are worth over a million dollars; hard to imagine any other barnyard animal fetching that kind of price tag. Of course these horses are fast, really fast, a skill that separates them from all the other animals, but still, the way animals are raised for food versus the way animals are raised as pets is a curious paradox.
It was a treat to see the morning workouts, and get so close to these beautiful, large creatures. We've been around a lot of horse manure on our trip, but not too many horses, and listening to them breathe and whinny makes us giggle. There's nothing like back stage passes.
By one o'clock, we made our way into the stands to watch the afternoon's 9 races. Consistently placing $1-$5 bets on various horses in various combinations for various reasons, we made short work of losing $30. There's a running joke that although Jimmy works for the track, any horse he thinks will win invariably disappoints, and after his predictions yesterday, we see no reason to think anyone should take his advice anytime soon. In one race, he predicted the top two finishers; one did win, but the other took a spill on the far turn and the crowd held its breath. Luckily neither the horse nor the jockey were injured, but seeing as we picked him finish in the top two, we slapped our thighs with our racing programs in exasperation. Nancy however had great success, and on two separate one dollar exacta box bets on three horses, she earned over $150. When you win at the track, you curse yourself for not wagering higher amounts, and when you lose, you curse yourself for having made a bet at all.