ELMONT, NY – A couple of days ago our own Cheesy Bruin put out a Facebook feeler to see if I had any interest in going to the opening of horse racing season at beautiful Belmont Park today. He didn’t have to ask twice. Now that the stench of the Islanders’ putrid Game 7 effort in Washington, DC has dissipated and the smell of this weekend’s Run for the Roses in Kentucky is already in the air, I figure a sunny day in Nassau County watching the ponies ain’t a half bad idea. So, we’re packing up some food and drink (they let ya bring whatever you want except bottles), seeing if any other of our unemployable friends are interested, and heading on out. Here’s what to expect.
Free Parking. It’s the track! They don’t expect you to pay for parking, unless you feel the need to pull your jalopy right up to the starting gate. They plan on you gambling so why charge you to park what may every well be the only negotiable asset you’ll have at the end of the day. That’s sportsmanship!
Admission and Attire. Aside from admitting that you’re most-likely a degenerate gambler, the only admission you need for Belmont is 5 bucks. You can add on a few more for a Post Parade program (you wanna know who you’re betting on) but that’s it as far as non-betting expenses go. If you’re not sure how to dress, here’s what Belmont’s site has to say about it: Elegant attire has long been a tradition at Belmont Park. Ladies & Gentlemen who honor this tradition are always appreciated. People 12 years and over must abide by the dress code. Translation: please try to keep your pants on. It goes without saying that not everyone abides by the code.
Wagering. Even those with no money, such as the Cheeseman and myself, go to the track to gamble. You really don’t even need a whole hell of a lot of scratch. You can make a day of betting a buck a race on the horse with the goofiest name or longest odds or worst-dressed jockey. You can bet dollar triples and dollar exacta boxes where you take home a portion of what is a bigger payout than simple win, place, and show wagering. Anyway, another great thing about going to the track on a regular day such as today is that you don’t have to contend with bettors who have no idea what they are doing, such as in this classic clip (around the 1:10 mark) from “Easy Money.”
People. Denizens of horse tracks get a ridiculously bad rap. Otherwise referred to as “track flies,” folks at the track are both entertaining and unusual. You can have as much fun drinking a cold beer and watching hardcore gambling histrionics than the races themselves. Still, I have never once witnessed loutish drunken behavior at the track like I have at baseball, football, hockey, and basketball games. For the most part, it’s a live-and-let-live atmosphere, with everyone focused on taking more out than they put in. It’s truly some of the best “people watching” around.
Amenities. Working toilets! Does that count? It should. Have you been to a baseball game recently? There’s also a Lost and Found, in the event that someone loses their cell phone on one of those working toilets. Finally, they have binocular rentals for two dollars! Who knew?
Anyway, I am looking forward to a day at the races. I’ll chime in from time to time when we’re not busy collecting piles of money. Next week it will be back to Mets and Yanks and NHL and NBA playoffs and the dreadfully boring lead-up to the NFL draft. For now, they’re off!
Come back tomorrow for a hilarious column from someone who’s never been in my kitchen, DJ Eberle.