Monday, February 7, 2005
What's great about racing
By Jay Cronley
Special to ESPN.com
Every time I attend a major league sporting event other than the horse races, I can't wait to get back to the track.
It's good every once in a while to sit back and have a cup of coffee and simply enjoy the highlights of a favored pastime.
Here's what's great about horse racing:
Nobody trusts anybody else. (At least you're seldom cheated. And everybody gets along fine if the conversation stays away from money.)
People in new Corvettes have no advantage. (Expensive cars in the lot means the chalk will be even shorter than usual.)
There's time between races. (In a day and age of cell phones and laptops, being along with your thoughts can be a little scary. But you get used to it.)
The losers pay the winners. (Isn't the track where you'd go to round up all the usual losers?)
There's no BCS. (Champions have beaten the contenders.)
Cheap admission. (The tickets for the most recently completed Super Bowl had a face-value price of $500. It's $2 where I go to the races.)
No gold diggers. (The only single women I've met at the track recently are sheriff's deputies.)
Close calls are everywhere. (At any given time at the races, somebody almost just won $3,000. It's like hitting that the one great shot during a round of golf that brings you back.)
Drunks pay. (Imagine playing poker against somebody with 11 empty beer bottles next to him.)
The track is not named iPod Downs. (Yet.)
Horse racing is seldom discussed on local sports talk radio. (Local sports talk radio is so bad, it could raise your car insurance rates.)
Experts are seldom right. (Being wrong with the world's best handicappers is nothing to be ashamed of.)
Generally, a day at the horse races is not a place to take a spouse. (It's like fishing a big lake in a little boat with your wife. Horse racing is His or Hers.)
You don't have to gamble. (Sit calmly and watch a race without betting a dime on it and you'll probably see things you'd have never noticed had you wagered a ten-spot.)
There are no high school punks calling press conferences to announce what college they're going to attend. (Horse people above and beside the animals are quieter than most.)
Lots of tracks are old. (And charming.)
The sport hasn't changed. (Put on the men's bracket at Wimbledon this year and watch the rocket rackets hit serves of 130 miles per hour. Wimbledon used to require a serve and volley game. Now with the new equipment, it's serve and pace.)
Colorful characters still go to the races. (I know four card-carrying jinxes.)
No crowds. (Given simulcast and off-track joints and profits from slot machines, handle and purses are way up and there are nine people in the grandstand.
Tattoos are on the inside of the lips. (Imagine what some of the human tattoos are going to look like in 35 years. Maybe that's why many women get tattoos on the smalls of their backs, little skin.
No tailgating. (Cooking sounds like work.)
Write to Jay at firstname.lastname@example.org