I’m a lifelong horse racing fan and bettor.
I write that with pride, although looking at those words I do see a hint of “Hi, my name is Edward…and I’m an alcoholic,” kind of vibe.
My early memories as a toddler involve collecting dead tote tickets and playing in the clubhouse fountain at the (now long defunct) Detroit Race Course.
As my siblings and I got older, our family vacations were spent at Keeneland, Saratoga, and Arlington. “I never took you kids anyplace we’d be greeted by a six foot mouse,” my Dad would proudly say. Missing school in April and October for Keeneland was okay because, well, it was Keeneland.
But the constant was always DRC. It was stereotypical racetrack. Hardened regulars that were either making a living playing the races (unlikely) or just showed up everyday because they had no where else to go. Tote tickets, racing forms, and programs strewn about the mezzanine like fallen leaves. That musty smell of wet cigar and stale beer wafting about.
I loved it. And those memories: My first winning bet. Those early days of simulcasting in Michigan, when DRC was limited to ONE race daily. Beau Genius winning the Michigan Mile in 1990 for local super-trainer Gerald Bennett. Cool Sunday summer nights on the decrepit third floor grandstand above the clubhouse, just me and my Dad.
Of course other sports distracted me throughout the years, but I always came back to the races. There’s really nothing like that feeling of anticipation before a race. I’m trying to predict the future for the next two minutes. I’m optimistic, my heart’s pounding, my stomach’s tightening, my hands shaking. It means absolutely nothing and it’s wonderful.