Sunday, August 7, 2011

We Know How To Pick 'Em

So we met up with Aunt Annie and took the boys to the track on Saturday.  This is what Saratoga Race Track looks like if you're 7:

Though to his credit, he did get this shot, which I thought was pretty good all things considered:

I'm pretty sure W had money on the 6 horse in this race.  This kid loves to win.  In classic W form, he placed all his bets on the horses with the best odds.  He's quite smart and he managed this big board and all of its odd-making pretty handily (which totally eased any guilt I might have had at teaching the kid to gamble... 'cause it's math!).  Needless to say, mama had some explaining to do when #6 did not win, place, or show, despite its 9-2 odds. In other circumstances, losing a game/bet/race would result in much complaining, a downward spiral of bad sportsmanship and general getting in trouble for his behavior.   But, it turns out, the emotional needs of compulsive gamblers are quite similar to those of small children, because there was barely a moment to mourn our losses before we had to make our picks for the next race and get in line to place our bets.  (The beauty of the new automated betting machines is that now you don't even have to face the elderly teller who frowns at you when you bring your kid to put $10 down on "Artie Luvsto Party."  Which I totally did, by the way....well it was just $2...but on 29 to 1 odds...and he came in close!) 

None of us came away ahead on Saturday.  I didn't win once.  J had a good run of picking the winners.  His method was to bet on his lucky numbers (4 for his age, or 8 for his birthdate).  But once he really got into cheering for his horses (we got many amused smiles as he sat on Chris' shoulders screaming, "Go number 8! for the entire 2nd race) he started using my method: picking the horse with the coolest name.  From there on out, my sweet little boy was all about screaming for the horses who sounded the most kick-ass: Silent Thunder, Dynaslew, Seek to Destroy, Duke of Mischief.   He must get it from both of his parents; I picked My Lucky Penny to win, so I could cheer for it like Desmond from Lost, calling out in his/my best Scottish accent "Peh-nay!"  Chris picked Giant Oak at one point.   He said it was because of the oak's honored symbolism in Masonic ritual, but from the pleasure he took in it, I think it was probably because he wanted 2 minutes to shout out "Oooaaakkk!!!" in what I presume is his interpretation of the giant tree's own voice.  I think he may have actually won $2 on that race.  Annie picked one race based on an rerun of 90210 she had seen on TV earlier that morning, during which Andrea and some other people (I'm trying to be as specific as I can, but I never watched that show!) went to the races, and one girl picked only horses with romantic names to send a message to one of the boys in the group.   But alas, Must Be Love couldn't pull it out in the fourth race, nor could the one she picked who was trained by someone whose last names was Fawkes, the name of Dumbledore's phoenix in the Harry Potter series.  

You can tell that we take this all very seriously.  But truly, to me, picking cool names or funny coincidences is just as good as betting on a favorite jockey or reading up on what the experts have picked for the day.  Our friend Lori used to always bet on the grey horses.  Who knows?!?!  We were there just for the spectacle of it all, the fun of cheering on our horses, and maybe the thrill of bringing in $3.20 on a $2 bet. 

And in the end, we still had enough cash to go get some pizzas in the pouring rain (thanks in large part to the fact that Chris found someone's cash voucher worth $13 while he was checking out), and the boys each got four soggy dollar bills in winnings, so it was a good day all around. 

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