One of the things I enjoy about this area is that there is a racetrack nearby.
Not one of those dingy, dirty little tracks with horses pulling buggies and spiderweb-strewn betting windows. No, I'm talking about a mammoth operation with gleaming white spires and acres of horsebarns and areas to watch the horses.
I'm talking Arlington Park.
Arlington is quite the place - huge, yet divvied up so nicely you never feel crowded or lost. I've felt crowded and lost at a dog track (WAY smaller!).
They have nice self-service betting machines and you can get whatever you want to eat there, and the track is very nicely kept and they have huge viewscreens so you can see what's going on...
But primarily, there are the horses.
Thoroughbreds, some of which go on to the Kentucky Derby (same owners of the tracks) and some of which, well, are a bit out of their league. All of which are very handsome animals which you can go down to the barns and down to the track and see pretty up close.
Then you go bet on them.
I have no idea how to bet, really. Sure, I can read all the tips and figure out that Glue Boy hasn't won in fifteen starts and I can see the odds posted, but to be honest I go mostly for names and colors.
Dynareign ran Sunday, so I had to bet that one because of Aaron's Dynagirl. Similarly, Windjammer - how can I turn down that horse!?
Then there are the Irish names with two Irish parents wearing green - ho, you bet I'm going for that one!
Sexyblueeyes ran Sunday. Maggie bet on that one because of me. I bet on BrownEyedGirl because of her.
OK, ok, I do have some guides in the odds department. I'll usually choose horses that are 4-1 to 7-1. Far enough out there that they aren't favorites, not so far that a good run is impossible, high enough so the payout is worth getting is you win.
Oh, I'm a big better. $2. That's it.
So, if I lose, no big deal.
I usually hit about 3 winners out of the 8 or 9 races we get there for, which actually is pretty good - the Chicago Tribune and the Sun-Times usually only hit one or two. I'm not sure that's particularly good.
Of course, I lose the other 5 or 6, so I usually don't walk away any richer than I came in. Often a few bucks less.
But you know what? On a clear, sunny day, with white clouds gently rolling overhead, and Maggie and her neices and nephews there (yeah, I get talked into babysitting) and some diet Cokes,man, you can't get any better way to waste a Sunday.
Er, except a ballgame.
Or gaming with my friends.
But it's a nice third :)