by Bob Sparrow
On the way to my seat I pass the ‘Cross Over’ – a path through the bleachers where all the horses and jockeys travel on their way from the paddock to the racetrack – I stop to watch the parade for the first race. To my amazement even the horses are wearing little silk hats on their saddles in the shape of a joc . . ., no wait, that is a jockey, my gosh they are small. I’ve seen a jockey bigger than that on my neighbor’s lawn.
I finally make my way to my seat. When I bought my ticket over the phone, I was told that my seat was in the ‘pole position’; I thought the pole position in racing was a good thing – not so much. Fortunately, my poor pole position seat was minimized by my lack of betting acumen, so I never really needed to see the finish line at the end of the race, as my horses were in no particular hurry to get there. The picture to the right shows that long after the race was finished, I was still waiting for my horse to round the club house turn.
“No, think I’ll have one of those Mint Julep things, you know, kind of get into the spirit of things?”
“You’re not at Churchill Downs.”
“Do you want some fruit and an umbrella with that?”
“Hey, are you saying that it’s kind of a girlie drink? I thought it was a ‘racing drink’.”
“Sir, there’s a line behind you?”
“Fine, I’ll take one . . . and a shot of tequila!”
Guess I showed her who’s a man!
Aside from a few pre-historic creatures with faces you could bounce a trifecta ticket off of, the crowd was generally very young – I kept wondering, ‘Do their parents know they’re here . . . dressed like that?’ And I found that most of these 20 and 30-somethings paid, even for a single drink, with a card, not cash. I understand that that generation really doesn’t use a lot of cash, but I’m just hoping they were using debit cards and not credit cards; otherwise those $9 beers, with interest, were costing them about $10.75.
With a bratwurst, a beer (Oh yeah, I got another $9 beer) and my racing form, I sit down in my pole position seat and watch the people parade. I must admit that the ladies do a great job at ‘dress up’ – I guess that’s in their DNA; most of them look great. The guys? Not so much, although a couple of ‘dandies’ (left) did stop and pose as well as a guy (right) in a seersucker jacket – Sears made it, a sucker bought it.
There were a few party fouls perpetrated by ladies who tried to pour their 12-gallon bodies into an 8-gallon dress and top it off with cheesy chapeau; consequently ‘Where the Turf Meets the Surf’, became ‘Where the Hat Meets the Fat’. Thankfully, no pictures are available.
Here’s me ‘tearing it up’ – my ticket that is, on some nag with a catchy name that ran like she was headed to the glue factory. You can see that the guy sitting next to me was less-than-amused with my racetrack antics.
Surprisingly, I didn’t win a race all day, but with great weather, great refreshments and great scenery, I managed to eke out a good time.
For those worried that I may have been driving under the influence on my way home, worry not; I took the train; not that I was being so responsible, I just couldn’t remember where I had parked my car and OK, I accidentally got on the bus to the train station. It was just as well, I couldn’t find my keys.
Disclaimers: The Del Mar Opening Day experience was wonderful, my seat wasn’t as bad as it looked, the horses were awesome animals (just not the ones I bet on), the jockeys are courageous athletes, I did see a few over-weight people there, but they all seemed very jolly and, the beers were in fact $9 each, but I only had two of them (honest, Officer).
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