Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Day at the Horse Races

I am a huge horse racing fan. And this time of year, right before Triple Crown season, I become a little antsy, waiting for the Kentucky Derby, and the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes. I've even been known to cut out of a SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) conference session to find the hotel lounge and a television in order to watch one of the races.

Conference Speakers: The state of the publishing business is . . . blah, blah, blah

Me: OMG OMG OMG Did you see that?? Smarty Jones just won the Preakness by almost twelve lengths. Twelve lengths, people. O.M.G!!

So, for those of you who have never been to the horse races, let me see if I can share a little of the excitement.

You don't really have to get there at the crack of dawn. Most races start mid-day and last until evening, with a new race about every half-hour.

This is the statue of the famous Seabiscuit, in front of Santa Anita Racetrack in Southern California.

Here are the starting gates, where the horse will load so they all break at the same time.

Here is the saddling area. You can wander right up and watch the horses getting ready before each race. I like to do this before I place a bet, and see which one has fire in his eyes.

Here are the buglers in the call to the post. You can't help but get excited right about now, because

the horses are being led out to the track. You can get right up close to them and watch

as they each are assigned to a pony horse. That's what they call the horses that lead them under the grandstands, out to the track and trot and canter alongside them as they warm up.

Here is a pony horse leading two time Horse of the Year, Curlin.

You don't have to spend a lot of money at the track. You can place bets for as little as one dollar. People have all kinds of methods for picking winners, and some do just as well picking horses that have Cat, Kitten, or Chocolate in their names. Go figure.

I tried to get a picture of the betting windows, but a beefy security guard confronted me and threatened to take my camera. Seriously. He made me delete the picture I took, but let me keep my camera. *Whew*

Have you got your bets all placed? Great. Because the race is about to start, right in front of you

they come charging out of the starting gate and the whole crowd is on its feet cheering, and the hooves thunder by right in front of you and your heart beats fast in your chest, and the announcer is calling out names but you cannot hear because the crowd is so loud and the horses stampede right past you

and you're jumping up and down screaming which one won? Was it Chocolate Kitten, number 8? Yes, yes, yes!

And when all is said and done, they cool the horses off with a bucket of water and lead them back in front of you and you better go get a sandwich and a coke because in a few minutes they'll be bringing in the horses to be saddled for the next race, and where's my program? I need to study who's running.

Hope you enjoyed my little photo montage. Remember, the Kentucky Derby is always the First Saturday in May, which is May 1st this year. And if you can't make it to Churchhill Downs, I hope you'll tune in to NBC to watch it.
That's where I'll be, right in front of my television, jumping up and down screaming for my favorite.


Fantastyk Voyager said...

I was at the races a couple of months ago and took a photo of the betting windows. Oooops, I guess noone saw me. I wonder why you couldn't?

Fantastyk Voyager said...

Oh yeah, and I love that first gray, #3. What a hiney!!

Saumya said...

I'm so jealous! I wish I was going to the Kentucky Derby! The horses are so beautiful.