Trina Machacek: Horse racing a good bet — for fun
If you’ve never been to a horse race you’ve got to go to one or two or 12. Beware though. If you have any clogging of arteries this may just be the thing that will get your heart going enough to clean out those arteries. Kind of like when occasionally you take your car out, drive fast and blow out the crud that has built up. Well, we used to do that when we had cars with carburetors that ran on regular gas and crud really did build up. Anyway. A horse race is fun from the paddock to the finish line.
Oh, sure, the jockeys wear silk and the horses are all sleeked up and ready for action. But the real fun is in the atmosphere, the sights and sounds and, yes, even the smells. You just haven’t enjoyed yourself until you bet on a horse race. Here’s what could happen …
Every year toward the end of the summer the community of Ely hosts horse races. That’s about the extent of my knowledge of how the horse races became to be part of the summer fun. I’m pretty sure there’s a whole other story of how it all got started and how it continues to occur to this day. All I do know is it’s really fun to go and see the horses run, have some liquid refreshment and just have a grand time.
There’s pari-mutuel betting on the races. You can bet as little as two bucks or as much as you can stand to bet. But before you bet, you have to see the horses. Well, you don’t have to, but to be considered a race fan you have to go down to the paddock and watch the horses enter, see the jockeys “up,” and then all dressed up and ready for the event they all parade down the track. It’s quite full of pomp and circumstance. But as a kid I remember hearing about these two guys who sat in folding chairs next to the paddock and if you were nosey — uh, friendly — with these guys you could glean from them some insider information as to who would win the race. Cool, huh?
So when I learned this valuable knowledge I, not quite a teenager, (yes, anyone who could put money over the counter could place a bet) skulked around until I overheard No. 8 in the 7th was a sure thing. Wow. This would be my luck, luck, lucky day for sure.
I had made some mad money by working the concession stand with my mother — as she manned the beer side I manned the soda side for the Elks who were in charge of the stand. She paid me a hefty wage and I decided when I heard that tip my bet would bring me riches far more than I could imagine.
Finally, the 7th race was next. I checked out No. 8. A fine brown horse. Yeah, they were all brown, but No. 8 was a fine brown. I stood in line with adults and as I got closer to the betting window my heart began to pump a bit harder. I recognized the money taker. A family friend, so I knew he would be kind to my newness of the betting world. He was, he barked toward me, “Who ya want and how do you want it?” I squeaked out “No. 8, please.” Then he again asked, “How?” Not knowing what he meant I again said No. 8. He humped and asked if I wanted the bet on No. 8 to win, place or show. Well, win, of course! Geeze was there any other reason to bet on a horse the two guys who were at the paddock sitting in folding chairs were whispering about? So, No. 8 to win was on my ticket.
I got over to the paddock just in time to see the jockeys “up.” They headed out to the track and so did I. These horse races are laid back, no real assigned seats, no nose in the air owners in private boxes — that I remember anyway. Just get up in the stands or stand at the rail and behold the race. Soon enough, the bell rang on the gate, the doors flew open and the announcer’s deep voice retorted over the loud speakers, “And they’re off!”
Yes, yours truly screamed and shouted and jumped up and down and the horses ran and the people cheered and — No. 8 won! Very cool.
I took my winning ticket to the pay window and collected my winnings. The two dollars I bet and the 20 cents I won! It was a VERY magical 20 cents.
Can’t hardly wait to go again this year.
Trina lives in Eureka, Nevada. Share with her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Really!