Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
Ladies and gentlemen, I had my first vicarious racing experience today on opening day at Gulfstream Park, and I will report that it was actually relatively enjoyable. Sadly, I was not able to physically participate in today’s on-track activities, being stuck here across the continent in the desert, and so being there in spirit via my Miami-dwelling eyes and ears was the next best scenario.
The back-story: I am in Tucson earning my master’s degree in the Race Track Industry Program at the University of Arizona. My husband, Gunner, is a maritime attorney and therefore stayed behind in Miami in order to make money so that our dogs didn’t starve since there are not a lot of navigable waterways in the Sonoran Desert. So he is there and I am here. Which is unfortunate for the most part, with certain exceptions such as the following tale.
On opening day of the Gulfstream meet, Gunner calls me up and says that his friends want to go racing but that he doesn’t know if he wants to go because it would require him to get off the couch on a Saturday. I practically hit the ceiling when he said this and began prattling on about how Gulfstream is so pretty, and that I am so jealous that he can go, and I insisted that he attend and use his minimal yet innate Kentucky-bred racing skills to aid and encourage his friends to love this incredible sport like everyone should. That and I really wanted him to get me a free “Keep Calm Racing’s Here” T-shirt which was being offered as an opening day promotion. Life’s ultimately all about the free swag, isn’t it?
Well I guess my unbridled enthusiasm for the sport and gratis garments lent him the necessary motivation to attend because I was awoken from a mid-morning nap … er study session, by my phone ringing. It was my beloved. He was at the track, had already procured me the coveted shirt and wanted to know my picks for the next race. My heart grew three sizes that instant.
So I promptly whipped out my trusty laptop, purchased the day’s past performances and loaded up the live feed offered on the Gulfstream website. What can I say? I’m a long-distance handicapping machine. Or so I’d like to think. As it turns out, my handicapping prowess has not improved much since my woeful underperformance at the Breeders’ Cup. In the Claiming Crown Glass Slipper Stakes, Gunner picked Starship Truffles to win based on the fact that her sire is Ghostzapper, who he knew was a good racehorse and sire, she was a Kentucky-bred, and he liked her name (I really think he just liked the name). I picked a different horse. Truffles won, my horse did not. My husband calls me up and exclaims “I’ve been here two hours and have won more money than you did in two days at Breeders’ Cup!” My heart shrank three sizes, and I mumbled some rationalization about those races being harder to bet.
To change the subject, I told him to find me some fashionable women and non-creepily take pictures of them so I could help showcase racing fashion at Gulfstream for all to see.
This is an almost laughable request as South Florida is God’s waiting room and therefore densely populated with the polyester shirt and black-socks-with-tennis shoes ilk. But the lovely ladies he was there with did not disappoint and he sent me a picture of them so I could show the world that racing fashion exists everywhere in this great nation.
So here it is, fashion at Gulfstream, baby!
But most importantly, Gunner and his friends had a magnificent time WBAM (wagering by arbitrary means), collecting some winnings based on said arbitrary wagers, drinking some booze and … they want to go back after I arrive home for the holidays! Success!
I read that on-track handle at Gulfstream was up 66% from last year’s opening day. I’d like to think that this was a direct result of my personal contagious enthusiasm for Thoroughbreds.
So all in all it was a good day for everyone involved. I successfully helped convert some new fans via my handsome and dapper Miami proxy, I added to my T-shirt collection, and I actually did correctly pick the exacta in the 8th race with Starsilhouette and Malibu Yankee, but my representative led me astray, betting another Ghostzapper progeny instead because he felt like he had to give the guy “props” for his previous win. Whatever, I’m no fool. It’s not like I married him thinking he would actually start listening to me.