Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Day at the Races

In high school I had a charismatic Algebra teacher who promised to take three of his struggling students (including yours truly) to the Yonkers Racetrack.

As he explained, it would give us an out of the classroom real life demonstration of odds, statistics and unknown variables. In retrospect, I'm pretty sure it had more to do with supplementing his meager teacher wages.

In any case, the local school board caught whiff of his plan and nixed the excursion immediately.

Which is too bad, because I actually like playing the ponies. Every year we join our friends from Pasadena for an outting at Santa Anita. It's a great get together where we see old friends. Eat BBQ. And expose the kids to important vices like drinking and gambling.

Unlike my grandfather, Louis Siegel, who blew my inheritance on the quarter horses at Belmont, I don't know a thing about picking a winner. Exactas, Trifectas, Quadrellas, it's all Greek to me. So while other bettors are looking up turf conditions, training runs, and jockey weights, I usually just follow the lead of my daughters, "Daddy, bet on the #4 horse he's wearing Orange. Just like Syracuse."

It's a strategy as good as any.

Most the time it results in my wallet getting thinner and a trip to the watering stand for more make-the-pain-go-bye-bye juice.

But the 6th race was different. Never My Love, the #2 horse was being ridden by R. Bejarano (OK I'll admit it, I'm partial to jockeys with Hispanic surnames). The owners of the horse were Harriet and Benny Siegel. Did I need any more of a sign than that? No, I did not.

Never My Love lingered around 4th place the entire race. But then, in the final two furlongs -- I think that's what they're called --he burst through the pack, edging out There Goes The Mortgage Payment in a stunning photo finish.

My $10 bet paid off handsomely and a lavish family meal at Pacos Tacos was enjoyed by all. My youngest daughter, schooled in the fine art of self deprecating humor, couldn't help noticing the irony.

"Daddy, I think it's funny that you finally win a race because of a horse owned by people named Siegel, has a big Jew nose."

1 comment:

Jeff said...

I too love the ponies. Used to have a little "problem" with them when I was in college. It seemed every time I'd bet my rent money - which i did more than once - the horse would lose. Eventually track officials decided my bank account was coming up lame, and decided to put it down right there on the final stretch. As a final act of kindness, they kept it away from the winner's circle so as not to spook it with unfamiliar surroundings.