mad in pursuit journal


Day at the Races

Monday we went to the track.

Finger Lakes Raceway

Finger Lakes Racetrack is a decent thoroughbred track about a half hour away, but I'd never been there. Never been to any horseraces. Not ever.

What's weird is that "gaming" is now predominant there. On a glorious summer's day, you get to the track by going through a glittering but stale-smelling dark hall full of Video Lottery Terminals. Casino gambling is unconstitutional in New York State, so is offered only on territory owned by Native American tribes. But lotteries are legal, so a loophole gives us VLTs, which are NOT slot machines. Whatever. All I know is that each of the thousands of machines flashed lights and emitted its own individual satanic melody, which made me feel like I was in the hold of ship during a hurricane. This section is open 365 days a year and (I would wager) supports the seasonal horseracing.

The escalator delivers you upstairs into a plain, no-nonsense betting parlor. Apparently, the serious handicappers study their programs and watch their races at tables in front of the TV screens.

But Jim and I were going au naturel —we went outside to sit on metal benches and see the horses for real.

We won some dough in the first two races. Dumb luck. As soon as we started being able to decipher the program better and see more data on the horses, our bets were all wrong. We were in good company. Monday's races were "claiming" races — the horses were all for sale because, basically, they were losers — horses who'd never won a race or horses on bad losing streaks.

Overall, a great afternoon. Pure pleasure with a little excitement.


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