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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Ohhh Canada...

Hard to believe I've lived in Western New York for over 23 years, but today was my first foray over the bridge to beautiful Fort Erie Racetrack. After the Space Gal decided to go see "Sex and the City" for the tenth time, it was the easy choice between doing a little yard work, writing a proposal for work (tomorrow's another day), or going downtown to watch the Gus Macker 3-on-3 (close second), so it was onward to the True North.

Don't let the fact that it was Queen's Plate Day at Woodbine escape you, as that also factored into the equation of checking out the race while in Canada. I had planned several weeks ago to drive up to Toronto, but once Harlem Rocker decided last weekend to skip the race, I did too. After a successful border crossing (no jokes here, serious business crossing the border these days...more on that later), the track is literally two minutes from downtown Buffalo. After buying a Canadian Form (Woodbine, Ft. Erie, Belmont, Hollywood and Arlington...sweet), I meandered over to the paddock before the opener to check out the surroundings. Here's a couple of photos of the paddock area which is nicely shaded and has a number of picnic benches to handicap or smoke a cigar (check, check).

They even had Bob the Bugler (Canada's version of Sam the Bugler) playing right there in the paddock. Film guy in the background was filming the daily handicapping show by James Hoser, Ft. Erie track handicapper. So off I went to attempt my American handicapping skills on $5K Ontario-bred claimers and mile and 70 yarders. I was sure to count all of the horses in the paddock before the race, as I heard sometimes they disappear off the tote board!! A spent some time in the paddock to watch the horses more closely than I usually do, say at Saratoga or Belmont, and spotted a horse acting up that I really liked on paper. I threw him out and replaced him with Athenais (5-1), and immediately and hit my first exactor of the day with Athenais (7 horse) over the favorite Piece of the Pie (1 horse) for a nice $25 winner. Here's a shot of the finish and the winner getting ready to pose for the winner's photo:

I decided to sit out the 4th, a $10K maiden claimer and smoke a Fuentes on one of the aforementioned picnic benches and take in the sights. I had some Canadian change in my pocket and just glanced at the form lazily. Since it was a sprint, I noticed a Storm cat filly Princess Roarcat, that was creeping up in the odds, so I decided to throw the Canadian change ($3) that was in my pocket at him for fun. Doesn't he win and pay $10.60!! I'm starting to like this place. (Note to self: dangerous situation, racetrack 20 minutes from work and home). I hit my second exactor of the day in the 6th (another $5K claimer for f&m) with Lastchancehitter (#4) over Strathmore (#1) for a nice pickup. I got a great shot of her closing on Strathmore at the wire. Funny these were the only two wire photos I took all day, both winners!

Here's a photo of the other 75 people who were at the track with me.

So, all in all, it was a really fun day at a really nice, clean, pleasant, comfortable race track. I was able to bet in US dollars all day long, and the people working were very friendly. It was an extremely relaxing day and a nice breeze blew through the simulcasting facility as I started to handicap the Plate. I threw my token $2 on D Flutie (what Bills fan wouldn't?) and then really started to watch the tote and see what looked interesting. Some very nice prices on the board and I was extremely surprised at the Plate Trial winner Not Bourbon being around 6-1 with 9 MTP (he went off at 9-2). He appeared to be excellent value, so I keyed him on top of a triactor with Flutie (24-1), Palmers (24-1), Ginger Brew (2-1 fav), Jungle Brew (10-1) and Solitaire (3-1). It was a fantastic race and a fantastic finish as Not Bourbon held off the late closing filly Ginger Brew (Javier Castellano up) by a head for a sweet $33 exactor! A terrific way to wrap up the day. Solitaire finished third 4 1/2 back. Flutie led early but burned out after setting fast early fractions.

The day ended with only a half hour wait at the Peace Bridge, which is totally my bad, as I know better to get behind 1) a van, 2) out of state plates, and 3) said van loaded to the gill with recreation stuff. Did I mention I love the Canadian national anthem too? We stand on guard for thee.....


Anonymous said...

I'm happy you found Fort Erie Race Track. I've been a FE fan since the 70's.
To see what the track used to be like and the crowds (not only 75 people), take the trip across the ripples for the Prince of Wales Stakes on July 13. It's the best race day they have now. Take you camera, lots of sights to snap.

Geno said...

Anon: I had an awesome time, it was really a relaxing atmosphere. I'll try and make the POW, should have a nice group of horses trying the second leg...

Anonymous said...

I hope you can make the POW, rumor has it that may be the last time the race will be run at FE. I will be so sad if it is. FE is one of my favorite places on earth.
Take a look at a good horse racing website:
I actually met Cindy at FE on POW day a few years ago.
Oh yeah, met Roger Attfield there too. Go Not Bourbon!!


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