by Tim Brannan, America's Best Racing
There is no doubt that many people across the country and the world agree times are tough right now. Unfortunately, many people have experienced economic hardship. A lot of people have lost their jobs or found their salary and benefits being cut down. We all have seen a rise in the cost of just about everything. Despite this horrible situation, surprisingly unlike other enjoyments in life, entertainment has not been suppressed. Many industries, such as horse racing, have seen a decline in revenue, while other companies, such as Apple and Netflix, continue to do very well. Whether it is only 99 cents spent for a song on iTunes or 27 cents a day for unlimited movie access, people seem to find a way to add some excitement into their lives. The need for entertainment is still alive, however people are now just a bit more conscious about pricing. Horse racing is an outlet for those who are on a budget and my blog is going to prove it to you. Grab your can of change, because that is just about all you will need.
Let’s start at beginning. Like any other good entertainment source, you will be subjected to some costs. At most sporting venues (i.e. baseball, basketball, football, NASCAR, etc.), some costs you will have to think about are parking, food and beverage plus admission fees or tickets in order to obtain the goal of the day, which is to have fun.
Every racetrack has different polices and procedures on food and beverage as it pertains to what they allow the general public to bring into their venue. It is important to check a track’s website before you plan to head there with your cooler. For a track like Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York, or Arlington Park in the Chicago area, you are allowed to bring in your own non-commercial prepared food (sorry, no Pizza Hut or Burger King) and non-alcoholic beverages. This way, budget-watching folks, like me, have an opportunity to avoid any long lines in the concession areas and they also can avoid the more expensive prices.
So now you have some details and you have decided to pack a cooler full of the acceptable food and beverages. You are ready to make a trip out to your local track for a day of fun. From the moment you pull into the parking lot of, let’s say, Arlington Park or Saratoga, you will find an ample amount of free parking. Cha-ching! Already in this experience, it is much cheaper than parking your car at a professional baseball or football game.
After you park, you head up to the admission gate. Last time I checked, Arlington Park charges $8 and Saratoga charges $3, so you will now have to break out the wallet. After you pay to get in, you roll your cooler into either one of the beautiful parks or in the backyard area to set up shop for a day of racing. At this point, you look at the racing guide and refer to the TV analyst for some betting tips. Your budget of $10 for the day leaves you with $2 if you are at Arlington and $7 if you are at Saratoga. So now what? How do you bet on every race with only a few bucks left?
Read and learn. There is a bet that most tracks offer called the Ten-cent superfecta. Yes, the bet only costs ten cents. You are thinking awesome, right? Many people I have spoken to during the Racing 101 tour didn’t even realize this bet existed. You might be sitting at home or at work reading this and thinking that you may be wanting to learn more about this bet, too. The superfecta is a bet where you have to pick the horse that will come in first, second, third and fourth in any given race. You have to pick the exact order that they cross the finish line and all horses have to be correct in order for you to win. For instance, you decide that you think the #2 horse will come in first, the #3 horse will come in second, the #7 horse will come in third and the #10 horse will come in fourth. This means that the finish of the race has to be 2-3-7-10; if one number is off, you lose. It may sound hard to win, but believe it or not, one year while working at a track in Illinois, I saw a ten-cent superfecta pay $30,000. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.
Back to the track. … There are ten races on the card for the day and you want to bet on every race, but you are worried about how much money you have left. By placing a ten-cent superfecta for every one of the ten races, you will only spend a dollar on wagering. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon spending less than $10, right?
You leave the track, winning one race, maybe two, maybe none, but for less than $10 you hopefully had a good time. Think about where you could go and enjoy yourself for less than $10? Can you go to a ball game? A concert? A local water park? Probably not. Horse racing can be inexpensive and might even be the cheapest game in town, if you want it to be. So next time you are looking for a fun time on an affordable budget, consider packing up the cooler, grabbing a handful of dimes and heading to your local track. I guarantee you’ll have fun!