Essays

A Day at the Track

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The sun is shining, the sky is blue, the weather is Florida balmy. And a trip to watch the ponies run around the racetrack calls out.

Here in Carpenter Country the call comes every spring.

We set out early for the two-hour ride. Our wallets are filled with only the money we can afford to lose. Of course, we’re not going to lose, we joke on the way south. Today is our lucky day.

Besides, there’s more to a trip to the track than gambling. There are the crowds reading tip sheets. The flag snapping in the breeze. The scent of sizzling hot dogs and popping corn that flavors the air.

And the horses.

We mainly go to see the horses. Sleek and shiny, wearing their stable’s colors, they parade to the starting gate. Some look bored, some look alert, a few seem nervous.

We’ve watched two in separate races throw their jockeys and run the race with no one in the saddle. Each flew past the other contenders, thundered to the finish line and-amid cheers from awed fans–came in first. Both were disqualified.

But watching them run, ears up, tail high, as if they were saying, look at me, I’m a winner, was worth the price of admission.

Too soon the last race is over. The crowds thin and the sun begins to set. We head for the car to count our winnings and losings. As usual, we’re about even.

But it’s been a wonderful day. On the way home we tell each other next spring we’ll go to the Kentucky Derby.

A winning dream and goal for another year.

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