Friday, February 08, 2008

A Day at the Races

Here are the completely-picked-at-random winners of an ARC of Fiancé at Her Fingertips and These Boots Were Made for Strutting from Leah’s Monday post. Shelli Stevens and Jeanette J! Congrats, gals! Email me your addresses and we’ll get the books out to you ASAP.
Now back to your regularly scheduled blog…

I’m not much of a gambler. I figure relying on the publishing industry to keep me in heels and martinis is gamble enough. Once in a while I’ll feed the nickel slots in Vegas, but even then it’s just because I like all the shiny lights.

But, this week I tried something new. I went to the horse races.

Mr. Wonderful was looking to buy one of the horses racing on opening day at the track and asked me if I wanted to go. Heck yeah! Not only had I never been before, but it was an excellent excuse to procrastinate- Uh, I mean, excellent research for my next book.

Anyway, the track was very cool. A huge art deco building put up in the 1930’s decorated with lots of old photos of men in suits and fedoras cheering at the railing, women in hats and gloves in the stands. Very old Hollywood feeling, like I was suddenly stepping into a Fred Astair movie.

Since it was cold out (though nothing like the horror of Iowa. Brrr!) we hiked up a ton of stairs to this section called the Turf Club, where we could watch the horses run from indoors. Once we were settled by the windows, Mr. Wonderful bought a racing form and tried to teach me how to read it. Anyone ever seen one of these things? Good lord! Miles upon miles of figures that looked like total gibberish to me. Stats, numbers, abbreviations all over the place. I gave it a cursory glance, my eyes kind of glazing over… then set it aside and instead picked the horse in the first race that had the cutest name. Golden Michelle. Pretty, huh? And, Michelle happens to be my sister’s name, so I figured that was lucky, right?

Wrong. She came in at the back of the pack. So much for my beginners luck.

So, in the next race I changed my strategy. I’d bet colors. Each horse has a different colored saddlecloth in order to easily tell which horse is which as they zip around the track. I picked the pink one. Hey, when you’re dressed cute, you feel better, right? And, surely when you feel better, you run better. Pink was a sure thing.

Yeah, right. Not even in the top 5.

O-kay. So, considering this was real money we were betting, I figured maybe I’d better buckle down and read that racing form after all. I swear to you I studied that sucker like I was taking a mid-term on it afterward. Checking the horses’ performance on dirt tracks, mud tracks, this track, other tracks, their trainers’ records, their standings in previous races, their odds in the current race, who the jockeys were, did they sprint right out of the gate, or like to come up from behind. I was cross-eyed by the time I made a decision. But, this time, it was an informed one.

Apparently, I shouldn’t quit my day job, because I was no better at being informed than I was a guessing. That horse lost, too. Dang it!

All in all I think we bet on about 6 or 7 horses, including my favorite, Red Hot Romance. (How could I not pick that one?) Unfortunately, we lost every race. Not only that, but Mr. Wonderful didn’t get to buy his horse either. When more than one person wants the horse, they put all the names into a hat and pull one out. And, since we were on such a winning streak, his wasn’t the lucky name they pulled.

Moral of the story – I should stick to playing the slots.

On the upside, I did get some great fodder for Maddie’s latest adventure. Already plotting out a few scenes at the track…

So, anyone else here a gambler? Anyone luckier than I am?

~Gemma "Trigger Happy" Halliday


Keri Ford said...

Oh! You lucky girl! I've never been to the track, but always wanted to go! the hubby and I will watch them on TV and blindy guess. I don't know what I'd do at that track other than watch, because I wouldn't even know where to begin to bet using all that jargon.

Gemma Halliday said...

Yeah, as you can tell, neither did I. Lol! It was a really fun experience, though. I would definitely go back. I might do *a little* homework first next time, though.


Angie Fox said...

Once, many years ago, DH and I tried to go to the track. We drove all the way out there only to learn that they're closed on Mondays. Who knew?

As you can tell, we're not gamblers. But I love Vegas. Not for the casinos, although it's fun to walk through them. No. I like the hotel spas. Mmmmmm...amazing.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I love horse racing! I usually go the fun name route. If it amuses me, that's the horse I root for. I haven't actually bet on races in well, over 20 years, though. I think we won about five dollars. *g*

Christie Craig said...


Okay, I need to confess. I come from a long line of moon shiners and gamblers. Yep, it's in my blood. The gambling gene is part of the reason my dear sweet hubby got me out of California. It was just too darn close to Vegas.

I prefer the game of roulette, but slots will do in a pinch, and horse racing not too far behind slots. I know a little about reading those numbers, but since I've never won big, I guess I don't know enough.

I'm actually going to Mississippi to invest in the sport of gambling in a couple of weeks. Now, I love it, but I'm also smart. I limit myself to $100 playing money. I mean, I have cats to feed at home and they like the good stuff, so I can’t lose more than that.

Crime Scene Christie

Shel said...

I fed the slots in California a few weeks ago. It was a nice donation to the Indian reservation during a business trip. I think I need to stick to poker.

It sounds like you had a fun date with Mr. Wonderful - YAY!

Kathy Bacus said...

I so totally stink at gambling it should be a crime for me to even walk into a casino. Which is why I'm not a frequent patron.

And believe it or not, we actually have a horse track/casino half an hour away. Of course, the horses only run four-five months out of the year--if we're lucky.

And bummer that Red Hot Romance didn't come through for you, Gemma. You could have taken that as a sign you'd found Mr. Right!

~Bullet Hole~

Gemma Halliday said...

Angie -

Oh! Vegas Spas - a much better place to throw my money. :)


Gemma Halliday said...

CC, remind me to go to Vegas with you sometime. You sound like fun. hehe.


Gemma Halliday said...

Kathy -
Yeah, I learned that the horse racing season is actually pretty short most places. We went on opening day and May is when it ends at this track. I think it's different depending on the regional weather. Obviously no horses making their way through Iowa this time of year, huh?


Estella said...

I buy a lottery ticket twice a week. An no, I'm no luckier than you are.

Keri Ford said...

Christie, you wouldn't happen to be going to Vicksburg, would you? I've gambled on their riverboats once, maybe twice. I do decent enough at slots. Don't get me anywhere near a blackjack table...I loose fast. They need quarter blackjack tables for me to play.

Now my grandma, lucky devil she is! Family took a cruise and I tell you, every time she went in the casino she came out with about $600+. I do believe she made enough off the casino to pay for her cruise!

Anonymous said...

I love this! Especially Red Hot Romance - names are my favorite way to pick horses, too. Yeah, I don't win either.

I had a roommate once whose father and brother were horse trainers. We went out to the track once and got to go to the barns before the races. My favorite part was when you had three guys standing there whistling various random tunes at the horse, which apparently was supposed to make it pee so it could be lighter during the race. But I don't think the horse was aware of the tradition.

Anonymous said...

I love gambling even if I don't win very often lol. I remember over 30 yrs. ago my husband and I went to Vegas and we saw a sample of how to play Keno - so we did it just like the sample - played 70 cents (remember this was a long time ago lol) and we won $700. That was nice but of course we would have bet more had we not seen that darn sample - I mean, who bets 70 cents lol.

Gemma Halliday said...

Lol, Leah! Pee songs? Ha!
Had Mr. Wonderful won the horse, we would have got to visit him in the stable. But, alas, no such luck for me. Though, prolly a good thing since I'm allergic to horses...


Gemma Halliday said...

Oh, that's it, I'm betting 70 cent keno next time I go to Vegas. ;)


Mrs. C said...

I go to the horse races in Vallejo every July when the fair comes through. I don't have much luck either. My husband and I check out the horses when they're saddling them up for the race. I generally root for the one with the catchy name, the way they look, or depends on the jockey sometimes. My husband's favorite jockey is Russel Baze. I don't have one. Did you go to Golden Gate Fields? I've never been to that one, would love to go though. They have dollar days...My kind of day at the races.

Terri Osburn said...

I'm not much of a gambler but I've done the casino thing a few times. I usually stick all the money I'm willing to lose in one pocket and if I win anything I stick it in the other pocket to keep. Then I lose the money in the first pocket and gamble away the money I won. In the end, I've had a time. LOL!

Used to go to Oaklawn horse track in AR when I lived there. I just loved the atmosphere and those animals are gorgeous to watch. I don't understand all the numbers either so I went the lucky number or the cute name route.

I do remember the one time there was a horse named Goober in the race. How do you not scream for Goober?! That was a hoot. And he almost won too.

Gemma Halliday said...

No, we went to Bay Meadows. It's their last season, so in May they close their doors after 60 some years. They're planning to build condos on the site instead. How sad is that?


Unknown said...

I love the track...not that I've been all that often, but I've often said that if I'd been a man I'd have followed the horse races up one coast and down another. The beach being my other favorite place. I've lost money everywhere. Loved your blog.