Heavy Bettin’

I was hoping I’d get to this before the race.

For reasons that I couldn’t begin to explain, I’ve suddenly become interested in horse racing.

Since today was Kentucky Derby 133 I had to bet on my first Derby.

I picked my horses last week and the person whose office is a mountain of paper offered to show me how to place the bet (which I kept referring to as voting) and we went to an off track betting place downtown.

This was among the most depressing places I’ve ever set foot in. The room was like the rec-room in a halfway house (I suppose you could argue that’s what it is) and a dozen or so, lived-hard type guys sat slack faced in front of a wall of TVs with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths. One of the guys was on oxygen.

They just remodeled this place. Apparently it was more depressing before.

There’s a bar adjacent that I did not see so maybe it’s fun in there. We found out you couldn’t place bets until Friday and I wasn’t going to be downtown on Friday so I would have to place the bet on my own. There’s a racetrack not far from our house.

This morning I almost talked myself out of going over there because I’m not the kind of person who gets in the car on a Saturday morning to go and place a bet. But I did anyway because I picked my horses and what if they won and I didn’t bet? And while I was over there, I could stop at Lowe’s and buy dirt and manure and mulch for the pumpkins.

I’ve only been to Portland Meadows one other time. It was May 1995 and my future husband took me to see the Grateful Dead. I think Chuck Berry also played. I remember weird people and being unbelievably hot. I’m sure my husband will come running upstairs with a disk after reading this post so we can re-live every moment.

This morning the scene at Portland Meadows wasn’t a whole lot different from the downtown betting place but for some reason it wasn’t depressing. I made my bet and then wandered around and checked everything out. Then I waited and watched another race on the wall of TVs. The average patron, at that point, was a man of advanced age wearing a sweatshirt and a trucker cap. The ratio of men to women was about 20 to 1. I don’t know what it was like this afternoon when they started running live races. But I want to find out.

I didn’t win any money but I had a great time watching. I’ll be back.

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