lets go to the races

I remember from a very young age my father sitting me down, year after year, to watch The Kentucky Derby, The Preakness, and The Belmont Stakes. He loved those races.

At the age of seven I knew names like Citation, Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and Affirmed, because those were the horses that he had either listened to on the radio or later watched win the triple crown on television.

I think Secretariat was his favorite. It’s easy, givin the horses 31 length victory in the Belmont to understand why. I can’t imagine what watching that race live on television, or better yet being there in the stands that day to see it in person would have been like. Hell, watching the video re-cap on youtube is enough to make me catch my breath. Watching it live probably would have given me a heart attack.

If you have never seen this race, take a moment to watch it and be amazed.

Wasn’t that ridiculous?

I still watch the Triple Crown every single year, and can’t actually remember a year that I’ve missed it. Though, as a kid, watching these races was fun, and routine, I never really got the thrill of it until recently.

We went to our first live races back in Maryland last year. Actually, it was Derby Day and we were at Pimlico race track (where they have traditionally run the second leg of the triple crown, the Preakness), to watch the Kentucky Derby telecast. It was the first time I’d bet on a horse. It was also the first time that I had won a bet. My two dollars turned into thirty-seven, but I never cashed the ticket. It’s a souvenir.

I’ve been hooked ever since.

Everyone has their obsessions, mine just happens to be horse racing at the moment.

Out here in California we have both Golden Gate fields, and Santa Anita (though it’s quite a ways down south and we haven’t made it to that track yet). But we’ve spent Sunday’s for the last three weeks in a row at Golden Gate fields betting on the horses. Now before any of you start to worry about gambling addiction, and my loosing all my money, let me clarify that a minimum bet on a horse is $2, which for me is often also my maximum bet 😉 In a nine race day, the most we’ll loose is $18. But our luck has been pretty good, and most of the time we at least break even. Flat out loosing on five or six races, and winning a descent chunk back on an 10 to 1 underdog a couple of times.

There’s no real method to how I pick a horse that I want to bet on in a race. I haven’t gotten to the point where I buy the horse journals, the tip sheets, and bring my clip boards and track sheets with me. Tim will occasionally bet an exacta or a trifecta, but we’re really not all that hard core.

But I love watching the horses walk the warmups. I’ll choose a horse because he’s pretty,or because he holds his head high and alert, but not because he’s the odds on favorite. Or I’ll choose him because his Jockey’s already won a race or two that day. I favor the giant dark brown ones, over the reds. So, I really have no method, which is why I loose pretty often, but it really isn’t all about the money.

I just like watching these giant animals run.

And in two weeks, you can bet on finding me glued to my television, or better yet at the track watching a telecast of the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby. It’s been 32 years since a horse has won the Triple Crown, and I think we’re long overdue.

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