Friday, September 08, 2006

Where the Turf Meets the Surf

Welcome to Del Mar Race Track! This little slice of heavens sits not far from the ocean in San Diego County and was founded by Bing Crosby and others back in the thirties. No dirty racetrack full of desperate weirdos this! Mom and I went with our close family friends, Joe and Sharon, this Labor Day weekend, and the place was packed with young families, teens, babies, and grandparents.

These photos were taken with my phone, so please forgive the lousy quality. But I couldn't resist sharing one of my fave spots in Southern California. Above you can see the paddock area, where the jockeys receive last minute encouragement and instructions from the trainer and owners before mounting their charges to head out a brief, fast, dangerous, exciting contest. The grey you see here is one of the many fillies competing in this race, which was for mares and fillies only.

The first race that day took place on turf, the inner ring of grass inside the dirt track. Here you can see the horses approaching the starting gate. Del Mar has an Austrailian announcer, and every time he says in that sexy nasal tone: "The horses have reached the starting gate," I whisper a damned fine Aussie imitation like some sort of readheaded mynah bird.

Here are the horses as they passed us the first time. They'll go around the track once and hit the finish line just past this point.

Mom won the exacta on this first race with a horse named Sip One for Mom and another horse whose name escapes me, whom we shall call Winner. An exacta is a type of bet where you pick the hoses that will come in both first and second. Mom "boxed" this exacta, which means she bet it both ways - Sip One for Mom first, Winner second, and Winner first, Sip One for Mom second. Sip One for Mom was a bit of a longshot, but Mom just had to pick it in memory of her mother, my grandma, who passed away a few months ago, and who would've loved to bet on the horses -- and who didn't mind a little drink every now and then either.

Mom won about $83 on that exacta, which was the biggest single win for out little group that day. I lost every single time. All part of a vast losing streak I've been on for months in every sort of gambling endeavor I try. Poker at with the girls at work, smiling at cute guys, trying to get writing project off the ground, you name it. Zero. I'm overdue for a win here, Universe. Just a friendly reminder.

But it was great to see Mom win. And even in the humidity caused by nearby Hurricane John, Del Mar is beautiful. We Berry folks have a family tradition at this track - my Uncle Bruce was the attorney for the track for many years. I have fond memories of hanging with my cousins, wandering the grandstand, eating cotton candy, and having my Dad place bets for me. Now that Uncle Bruce is gone, the track is a wonderful reminder of him. I'll tell you a secret - his ashes were scattered on the far turn.

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