An Interesting Day at the Track

I was working late one night at the Southeast Regional Center for First American Corp. in St. Petersburg, FL. We were responsible for property tax servicing for mortgage banks, ensuring that every single one of their mortgages properties were having their county property taxes paid…and on time.

It was a pretty long day & I hadn’t eaten anything all day nor taken a break.

Thank God I lived less than 7 minutes from work as I was dead tired…and starving!

So what in God’s name possessed me to stop by the St. Petersburg dog track before going home???

OK, it was right there, very convenient, just “down the road” from my place, but then again, it was there when I moved to St. Pete in February 2009 (~15 months earlier) & I had never bothered to stop by before.

Perhaps the hunger pangs affected my thinking. After all, I really just wanted to see what it was all about. I’d gone to several horse tracks in my day (both thoroughbreds & the trotters) & I enjoyed the, er, “atmosphere”.

Yeah, that’s it…the atmosphere!

I pulled in the lot & headed toward the Clubhouse Level. It was inside & a helluva lot more comfortable than standing by the track or sitting in the stands. I also figured that I could get something to eat.

Up I go & I bet a few bucks on the first dog race. My dog is actually leading the race (chasing the mechanical rabbit down the track) until he decides to suddenly make a sharp right turn.

Unfortunately, the track was turning a little to the left, so he finished well out of the money.

Somehow, this type of racing really didn’t catch my fancy. I sit down & decide to get something to eat.

Along comes this extremely pretty waitress…cute as anything.

We actually strike up a nice li’l conversation & before I know it, I’m ordering a double Southern Comfort on the rocks. (What the hell happened to that cheeseburger I was craving???)

Well, that drink went down rather smoothly & I seem to have misplaced my hunger someplace. I mean, it was right here a second ago!

Along comes my little waitress & she asks if I’d like another.

“Sure, thanks!”

A couple of doubles in a completely-empty stomach will hit you faster than a speeding locomotive.

And possibly harder.

I’m looking around the place when I notice a bank of TVs mounted high on the wall in a long row. Seems they were simulcasting dog races from other tracks across the country & with simulcasts, you can also bet in these races from this same location in St. Pete.

But wait, what’s this on the very first TV? Those are awfully funny-looking dogs I’m seeing!

They were…kind of. They were horsies!!!

And they were simulcasting from Yonkers Raceway in NY, just north of NYC. My buddies & I used to go there about once or twice a year. I was a little homesick (being a homegrown NY boy) so I decided to investigate the situation.

They were getting ready to run the first race (trotters…that’s where the horse “trots” & the driver sits behind in a sulky, controlling the speed & direction with these long reins) & the betting window just closed.

Now this has my attention!

I remember them selling the Racing Form downstairs by the entrance to the Clubhouse. I rush down & ask for the Yonkers Racing Form. Each track usually has its own Racing Form for that particular day’s race.

You’ll see all the horses entered, projected betting odds, past performances, breeding, jockey, trainer & just about every piece of information to make an “informed decision” on whom to bet, what type of bet, how much, etc..

*clears throat*

And we all know that alcohol can only sharpen one’s perception & good sense, right?

I immediately go into heavy study mode as I wanna bet the 2nd race at Yonkers.

I always compare the projected odds to what’s happening at the race track. The odds are established according to how the betting public place their wagers. The projected odds, meanwhile, are just that…projected. But they’ll give you a good idea of how a specific horse sits in comparison to his rivals in the race.

I compare the actual updated odds to be projected ones to try & find some “good bargains”…horses that will pay off higher than their projected odds.

I study the 2nd race entries intently.

First off, the #6 horse (4-1 odds in the Racing Form…the lower the odds, the better the horse) is going off at 6-1. Yep, that’s considered a bargain.

If he wins at 6-1, you’ll get back $14 for a $2 bet.

At 4-1, you’d only get back $10.

I also like the #2 horse.

*enter those 2 doubles on the rocks*

FYI, I’ve never bet more than $50 in any once race in my life & usually it’s cliser to $20 per.

I go to the betting window with only 2 minutes left to place a bet.

I bet heavily on the #6 horse…to win, place & show. (If he finishes 1st or 2nd, you win your “place bet. If he finishes in the top 3, you win your “show bet”. They pay off much less than your “win bet” as you have a much greater chance of winning.)

Then I bet the #6 horse in “exactas” with the #2 horse. With an “exacta” (which I very rarely bet), you must pick the 1st & 2nd place horses in that exact finishing order.

I bet a ton of 6-2 exactas. The 6 horse must win & the 2 horse must finish second. Anything else & you lose.

I must’ve been in some sort of mind freeze (or possibly in love with my waitress) because…

…I have bet well over $300!

After never betting more than $50 in a race before, I go & bet $300.

I must be nuts.

Or tipsy.

Or both.

Now, the interesting part starts to unfold.

Before the race starts, the horses walk around the track in what’s called a “post parade” (they’re heading toward the starting gates or in the case of trotters, they’re getting behind this wide mechanical gate, hitched to the back of a moving automobile so they can get a running start).

During this post parade, they’ll give you the horses’ name & numbers (in order), the rider, the trainer & the closing/current odds.

I’m staring intently at the TV screen, holding my “Yonkers Racing Form”, waiting for my #2 & my #6 horses to be announced.

Up comes the #1 horse…but the name doesn’t seem to match the info in the Racing Form. Ah, no big deal, I think. Just a fluke!

But when my #2 horse is announced, it DOES NOT MATCH what’s in the Form. How the hell could this be happening?!?

Same story for the #2, #3, #4 & #5 horses!!!

Have I entered some strange parallel universe? Is my waitress really an alien? WTH is going on?!?

My #6 horse??? That’s not mine either! None of the horses match the ones I’ve been studying in the Racing Form all this time & the ones upon I made all those bets.

I check the TV. Yep, the 2nd race at Yonkers.

I check my betting slips. Yep, 2nd race at Yonkers. (Note: They only provide you the horses’ numbers, no names given.)

I definitely bought the Yonkers Racing Form as I remember telling the guy that I was from NY.

And then it hits me…like a ton of friggin’ bricks!

I pick up the Racing Form & am looking through it. Somehow, I flipped it over & there, on the back cover, was the Yonkers Racing Form…but it was upside down.

I flip it over again & there is it…the Racing Form for Rottingham Downs in Massachusetts!!!

It took me a second or two to realize what happened.

They sold both Racing Forms (Yonkers & Rottingham Downs) as “one purchase”. You get Yonkers on one side, then turn it around & flip it over, and there’s Rottingham Downs!

I had never seen that as I only bought the Racing Form for the track I was at. I never bet simulcast racing before so I never encountered this situation before.

$300 of bets studying the wrong horses at the wrong track, no less!

I’m doomed.

I’m just about to dump my tickets into the nearest trash container. I decide to wait & watch the race instead.

The #6 horse WINS!!! The #2 horse finished 3rd, thereby killing all my exacta bets.

But I would win all my win, place & show bets on #6! I’d still make a small profit after covering my $300 investment.

Then the worst thing a bettor ever wants to see when he has the winning horse…the dreaded “Stewards Inquiry”!

That means that the judges have noticed an infraction during the race & now have to decide what punishment needs to be handed out & to whom.

Most times, the penalty is against the winning horse for doing something wrong, e.g., impeding another horse’s path, bumping another horse, etc..

And, in these cases, his “number is taken down”, that is, he’s moved from finishing first to anywhere from 2nd place to dead last!

Oh, noooooo!!!

I screw up the betting…cried a little…my main horse wins anyway & I manage to make a small profit…but now this?!?

I’m getting more despondent as the “Stewards Inquiry” remains on the Yonkers tote board.

What a damned loser I am.

And now there’s an announcement…

The penalty was against the #5 horse, NOT my #6 horse!!!


The #5 horse had originally finished in 2nd place, but now has been placed in last by the judges.

That means that my #2 horse, who finished in 3rd place, automatically moves up to 2nd place!

I now win all of my 6-2 exacts as they finished 1st & 2nd in that exact order!



I wind up clearing almost $5000! I kinda went from $0 (wrong horses to wrong track) to a small profit (as my #6 wins) back to -0- (assuming the Stewards Inquiry would penalize my winning horse) to almost $5000 as I now win all my exacta bets when the #2 horse gets placed in 2nd, right behind my #6 horse!

I tip the lady who took my bets $200 & my waitress $300.

And I got a couple of excellent dates with the waitress as well!!!

Then I find out she was a psycho so I hadda drop her like a hot potato.

And that was my day at the track!

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