I officially completed this Thing to Do when I was in Miami in January 2007. After I swam with dolphins, I went up I-95 to Gulfstream Park and bet on a few races. It only took the window lady yelling at me once to figure out how to place a bet and I played it safe, placing only small bets. I bet on several races, choosing based on which names I liked, and didn’t win all day. Even though I never won, I really got bit by the gambling bug! Luckily for me, there aren’t any tracks in North Carolina or else I may be in the poor house.
Fast forward two years later and I finally got to Colonial Downs last Saturday, which is “only” 2.5 hours up I-95. Ever since I went to Gulfstream and discovered that Colonial Downs was kinda nearby, I’ve been wanting to go. And what better time to go than during the Virginia Derby?
In preparation for the big day, we reserved a table in the “Party Zone,” so as not to have to stand with the mere peons, and I went in search of a BIG hat! I bought the biggest one I could find and briefly considered decorating it for one of the Hat Contest categories, but decided I would let the Big Pink Flower that came on the hat speak for itself. I’ll plan better next year and decorate a hat for the contest, as it didn’t seem like there were many that entered=good chance of winning
On the big day, I got all dolled up in my cheapest, pinkest jewelry, and we hit the road, stopping for Bojangles (of course) along the way. The first (of 12) race was to be at 12:55pm and we were on course to get there on time. However, we hit a bit of traffic due to a car wreck and after checking in and getting all of necessary “Party Zone” perks, we entered the grounds in time to see the end of the first race.
We quickly threw down our stuff to make sure we got our bets in for the next race, discovering the joys of machine betting. At Gulfstream, I went to the window, so I knew how to give the information to the person quickly, but these machines were another matter. It took Lydia and I touching the screen a few hundred times before we realized it wouldn’t do anything without giving it money first. After that, we learned how to use the machine quickly and throughout the day, when I would return to bet, I would find myself getting frustrated with the person in front of me that couldn’t figure it out. I always panic that I’m going to get shut out. I was behind one guy that was having the same problem I had had at first and I tried to explain that he needed to give it money first. He wouldn’t believe me but when the attendant came over and told him the same thing, he said, “Oh, no one told me that.” #sexism
The perks of the “Party Zone” was: All you could eat lunch of Carolina Pulled Pork, fried shrimp, fried chicken, cole slaw, potato salad, hushpuppies, and desert; three beverage tickets; and a pretty nice cooler. We also got a re-admittance ticket for a future race this season. Having the table meant that we were even closer to the track and between the table’s umbrella and my huge hat, I got NO sun that day.
We had good weather, although I had to take off my Big Pink Power Ring and my Big Pink Bracelet because they were making me sweat on my wrist and finger. Alex won big (well, big for us, people who rarely bet more than the minimum $2 bet) on the second race with Rabbitoutofmyhat, a 10-1. He also won on Battle of Hastings, the winner of the Virginia Derby. I had chosen Battle of Hastings in a very scientific manner: the jockey was wearing silks that had a big purple smiley face on the back. Unfortunately, the horse had scratched prior to the race. Just as we hear the horn blow, we heard the announcement that Battle of Hastings was, in fact, racing and Alex ran to the betting machines, just getting in his bet before getting shut out. Before he had scratched, Battle of Hastings was a 4-1, but had gone to a 5-1 by the time Alex bet, so Alex was our big winner of the day.
Lydia also won more than she lost, but she also didn’t bet as often or as much as the rest of us. I won little bets, like a $2 bet on a horse to show that yielded $7.80. Wow. And I think Steve lost more than me, which is hard to believe.
While we may not have won big, we had a fun day, and are already started talking about going next year. Getting the table was very much worth it.
Also listed in the TTD book is going to Dog Races, Camel Races, and Pigeon Races. Dogs should be easy but I’ll have to do some research on the others…
Anyone won big at the races? Anyone been to a unique race like Camel, Pigeon, Zebra, etc?