Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Day at the Races

On Sunday, in celebration of my dad's 60th birthday, we visited some family friends who own a horse ranch. We pulled in at the Czech Mate Ranch, and promptly got a tour of the grounds. They own mostly fillies and mares, because they have a potential return on the investment that colts don't if they don't run well. They took pride in showing off the horses that they owned. They were nice horses, so I can't blame them. We started off by checking out the weenlings, the horses who are less than a year old.

An interesting fact about thoroughbred horses is that they're all officially born on New Years Day. Even if their birthday is New Years Eve, for racing purposes, they're considered one year old on January 1st. So most Thoroughbreds are born in between January and June, any later, and they'll be so far behind the other horses in terms of physical development that they just won't be able to keep up.

As we walked around, they showed us the yearling fillies who were going to go up for sale pretty soon. They were expecting over $30k for some of them. Impressive.

Finally they showed us their yearling colts. They warned us that the colts are a little more feisty than the fillies. I should have listened. As I petted one of them, it snapped around and bit me on the wrist. Irritated, I grabbed the horses halter and got ready to yank it back down to my level. Then I realized that this horse could be worth over $30k. I let go, backed away from the fence, and apologized. They laughed it off, apparently it's a pretty common occurrence.

They also talked about their prize horse, Enumclaw Girl. Enumclaw Girl is a 3 year old filly that they weren't able to convince anyone to buy as a yearling, so they decided to race her. She had a rather unassuming pedigree, although if you go back 7 generations she's descended from War Admiral. She's had 5 starts, won 3 of them, came in 2nd in another, and 3rd in the last. She's already earned them over $82k. Pretty nice.

We headed over to Emerald Downs to watch the races for the day. They didn't have any horses that they owned racing, but there was one horse they had bred, CatSilverandGrey, in the 2nd race. Cat hadn't done too well thus far, but they placed a bet on her just for the hell of it, and she came in third.

We watched a few races, and decided to hop down to the ground level to watch some of the races in the grandstands. Mom displayed an uncanny ability at this point. We walked down to the paddock to watch the horses being saddled. Mom considered them, and said, number 9 is going to win. Dad placed a bet on number 9. Number 9 won. Next race, number 7 is going to win, placed bet, 7 won. next race, number 8 is going to win, placed a bet on number 8, 8 won. That last race was the most interesting. I had a $1 8 to 7 Exacta bet on it. Coming around the stretch, number 8 was in the lead with number 7 closing fast on his tail. As they passed us, it seemed that number 7 had taken the lead, screwing me out of my bet. They cross the finish line, and declare a photo finish, meaning that it would require some time to verify. I gnawed on my lip as the time seemed to stretch off into eternity. Finally, the results came back, 8 had staved off 7, who finished in second. I won! I was ecstatic. Then the exacta results came out. I won a whopping $6.90... Most exciting $6.90 in my life.

We watched a couple of more races, and we decided to leave after the ninth race. I decided to place one final bet. After helping my aunt with a bet, I placed a $2 bet on Way Too Much to win the ninth race. When I came back, my aunt asked me why I chose to bet on that particular horse. Doris, the old lady who's been around horse racing longer than I've been alive caught me before I could answer.

"He's not betting on the horse, he's betting on the jockey."

Perceptive woman. It's true, Seth Martinez had won 5 races already today, and he was riding on Way Too Much for his last appearance today. Way Too Much won by two lengths. Hot damn.

While I didn't win a whole lot of money, I did have a great time. I hope to go back soon.

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