Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Horse Race

I have always loved horses and horse racing. The Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, the Belmont...I read everything I could get my hands on about Seabiscuit, that magnificent runner and descendant of some of the greatest champions known to man. When we arrived in England I was surprised (I don't know why I was surprised, but I was) to find horse racing nearly every day. They raced at Haymarket, they raced at Brighton, they were running at Yarmouth and Ayr...they ran on flat and they had steeple racing...it was a horse lovers heaven. We hadn't been settled in our new home too awfully long when I learned how to place a bet. I never bet too much, usually no more than a pound, sometimes only 50p. But like the lottery over here, I played a ticket every Saturday. Sometimes I won, sometimes I lost. Every so often I would play the ITV7, which was based on 7 races in a row... the races were held on Saturday morning. The boys would usually be out playing and Mac and I would be filling out our tickets then one of us would run down to the OTB (Off Track Betting) shop and place the bet. This one morning after we both filled out our separate tickets, it would be me going in to place the bets. Mac had worked all night (in London) and was planning on going straight up to bed after the tickets had been filled in. Now, you can bet the tickets Win Place and Show and doing it this way you have a better chance of getting some return on your money. If there are more than, say 7 horses in the race, and your horse comes in third, you get a bit back on him and your ticket is still viable. So anyway, I had my system of how I chose my horses. If I liked the name, or the horse was pretty, it didn't have to have blinkers...you know, very scientifically calculated...then that's who I bet on. If the odds were long, well that was a plus. Okay, so I have my ticket ready, Mac has his ticket filled out but now I'm marking the Win Place or Show when Mac glances over and does what men do when women are perfectly content to go on their merry way as they were. "I'd play it win only." I looked over at him and asked him to explain himself. "Well, that third race only has 3 horses in it, if your horse comes in 2nd, it won't pay out place or show. You have two races like that. I'd just play it Win only. Why waste money?" Well, it sort of made sense to me. I don't know now why I listened to him, it's not something I'm known for doing. But listen I did and win only was how I paid the ticket. Now, in the ITV7 you have to keep the ticket going, you have to win (or place and show if that's how you mark the ticket) all the races in order to collect on any. And this is how I almost became rich. You note I said almost, which only counts in horseshoes, not horse races...

The horses were lining up in race 1 and Mac had already gone up to sleep. I was sitting on the edge of my seat, jumping up and down and urging my horse, on and he came in for me at 25 to1. The second race lined up and Clouded Vision, a vision at 37-1 was running his heart out and when he won (after I had been warned he was a dog by the fella at the Betting Parlor) I nearly fainted. The races proceeded and I won both the races that had only 3 or four horses and was feeling good and had one race to go. My horse was a shoo in, I was assured by all and sundry that all this horse had to do was show up. He was picked for me by Mac, who also had him on his ticket. I had figured up that so far I had 198,000 pounds in the bag and my heart was pounding as they lined up. I saw something that disturbed me so much, I stood up to watch the race. The horse had blinkers on. This boded ill, and I watched as the horses walked down from the paddock to the track and he was so beautiful and arrogant, his jockey so calm and sure, I relaxed when I watched him gallop sideways and try to reach back and bite his jockey, he was full of p*ss and vinegar, all black and glistening looking like the biggest hobbyhorse I had ever seen on any carousel...I loved this horse. This horse was going to make me rich. I began spending the money in my mind, imagined the beautiful red leather heels with matching purse I would purchase to take my trip into the city to collect my winnings. I'm telling you, this horse looked at me and said "it's in the bag". The bell went, the wire went up and they were off! There were nine horses in the race, and they all started out in the lead then gradually, most of them fell to the back of the pack. Now it was a four horse race and my horse was in the lead. On they galloped and my horse decided to stop and wait for the other two horses to catch up. I began to scream at the tv set for him to RUN DAMN YOU RUN, and when the other two caught up, they were off again. The race came to a photo finish end between the three lead horses . My horse, my beloved horse, came in second. SECOND. I sat straight up on the sofa and my eyes narrowed. My gaze went towards the stairs where someone lay sleeping, someone who had told me "I'd play it win only." Someone who had told me that all my last horse had to do was show up! I picked up a pillow off the sofa and slowly mounted the stairs. I wasn't sure what I was going to do when I went into the bedroom, kill him or merely maim him. Kill him was high on the list. I satisfied myself with beating him with the pillow, thus bringing him up out of a sound sleep. He never slept that soundly again before a race. Nor did he offer me any advice on how to play my tickets. At least not untill the second time I did the unthinkable and took his advice. More fool I.

8 comments:

Terri and Bob said...

Oh my goodness! Here I am at school just splitting a gut on this. I like to bet on greyhounds, but only at reputable places.

I have won a trifecta, but since I only bet a dollar, I won $35. Think if I had bet 100!

Kari said...

Have you ever read books by Dick Francis? They are set in England and always center around horse racing somehow. Oh, yeah, and there's always murder involved, too. Love that Dick Francis. If you haven't read him, YOU SHOULD.

justabeachkat said...

Oh girl! You know how to tell a story. I was leaning forward as I read, just hoping.....

Hugs!
Kat

T*mmy said...

I was born and raised in KY and I don't know why but I'm very afraid of horses...I love to "look" at them but watching one almost tump my poor sister into an open well...let's just say, I keep my distance!

I do love the Kentucky Derby and will always "pick" my horse and yell scream and shout till the winner is announced...I'm not any good at all at picking the winner...lol!
When they play "My Old Kentucky Home" I always cry especially when I'm not living in my KY HOME state!

That is not to say I don't love OHIO...there are many things and people that I love here...but there is just something about your home state...

Penny @ Lavender Hill Studio said...

LOL Sandi!!!!!!!!!!!! What a fun story!
Penny

Mary said...

I didn't have you down as a horse race fan.What a shame you didn't win big.

Abbie said...

Aunt Sandie, I won't lie, I did not understand the concept of your ticket pickings, but I understood if not felt the tension of you almost winning by "" <-- This much!
How do you feel about Uncle Mac now? Still holding a grudge??

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