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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Remembering the First Time

I broke my maiden at Saratoga Race Course on a Wednesday afternoon in August of 2004. The 25th if you're keeping score at home. The first horse I ever watched live at a racetrack win a horse race was named Lukelynn at odds of 7-1. Of course, I didn't have him. The second horse I ever saw win a race was named Closing Argument. Yep, that Closing Argument. The one who was 71-1 in the Kentucky Derby and finished second to Giacomo, leading to gigantic payoffs in the exacta, trifecta and superfecta wagers. He won a 2yo $45K MdnSpWt and paid $13.20. That's definitely something that stayed with me. Now he's at stud and I'm keeping my eye on him.

It took me four races to cash my first ticket, after the Saratoga Resident taught me how to call the numbers at the window, what an exacta and trifecta was, and how to box bets. I hit a $2 trifecta box of three horses that paid about $50. I'm not completely sure, but I think that's the moment I was hooked. There was something about deciphering all those numbers, figures, statistics meant within the hieroglyphics known as the Daily Racing Form. I'm still trying to figure it out, but that afternoon, it was like a light bulb went off in my head, that this was something I could really get into. The rest of the afternoon led to a profit of about $39 and one new fan for life.
I can't believe I missed out on all of the great races that happened prior to this day. Sure, I watched with the rest of the country on Derby Day, but usually with a casual glance at the tube. Maybe I'd watch the Preakness to see if the Derby winner would come back and win. But to be honest, I was never that enamored with it until I became engaged with the sport on site at the track. There's nothing like it. The way the crowd murmurs for the first quarter, half, top of the stretch. Then the noise starts building as they roar down the stretch. People screaming for their horses to "get up" or "stay up" or "go go go." The simultaneous groans of the losing ticket holders with the cheers of the fortunate winners and the rush that comes with it is something unmatched in other sports. Mainly because they are usually played at one team's home venue. This is something that fascinated me.

I remember watching Smarty Jones' Belmont down in Key West while on vacation with the Space Gal earlier in 2004, going for the Triple Crown. I am into watching significant historic sports events and you wouldn't find me on the beach that day, but in a bar packed with sports fans rooting the Philadelphia based horse home. Ironically, he was beaten by the horse who sired two of the 2009 Classic winners, Birdstone. A fitting beginning to peak my interest into the great sport of thoroughbred racing. What's cool for a newcomer like me is that the horses I followed and loved in my first years following the sport (see Roman Ruler) are now the hot sires of the current crop of 2 and 3 year olds.

I'm not sure how my interest has evolved into this? This being the 397th post (mainly on horse racing), and it sure has been a fun ride. I'm eternally grateful for that day in August at the Spa because it was before I knew of any of the problems that have dogged thoroughbred racing, so I was truly seeing it for what it is, a tremendous spectator sport (with a hint of gambling, of course).


Ernie said...

You got in at a cool time, and we're lucky to have gotten you. And the Space Gal. And your 2005 dagger questions

The_Knight_Sky said...

Sorry. I wound up here when Googling up a Foreigner video:

And it feels like the first time
Like it never did before
It feels like the first time
Like we've opened the door

BTW I went 0h-fer-10 on my first thoroughbred card. Labor Day 1985 at the Meadowlands.

Just call me Zippy Chippy.

Geno said...

E: Thanks, appreciate the kind words.

Zippy: I actually was going to download that youtube, but the hotel I am at was blocking it...I knew you'd be all over it!

The_Knight_Sky said...

A hotel blocking a Foreigner video?

What tune were you searching for?

Double Vision? :D


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