Today was a day to experience a real Kentucky tradition...horse racing. Now, I'll be the first to admit that I know very little about horses or about racing, betting, odds, or traditions related to horse racing. But Pete, Barb, Curt and I all piled into the car and headed for Keeneland, a VERY nice racetrack.
As we got closer, the scenery started to look like what you'd expect Kentucky horse country to look like: rolling hills, curved white fences, lovely farms, etc.
We got our first taste of how classy Keeneland was when Curt read that they have valet parking. We thought we'd try that, since we figured it would be quite a long walk from the parking lot. So as we pulled into Keeneland, we asked the first lot attendant which way to go for valet parking. He glanced in the car and said, without missing a beat, "They won't let you into valet parking with blue jeans." Oops. We needed the exercise anyway, so we proceeded to the parking lot for blue jean wearers. (I never knew parking lots had dress codes!)
Out front we could see the horses being walked in preparation for the first race.
We found our seats in the stands and the races began.
As the last of the big spenders, we each allotted ourselves $20 for betting. There were 10 races, and you could place $2 bets, so that sounded like a good plan. With the wind whistling through the stands, and the temperature in the 50s, we had to dig deeper into our pockets to find things from the concession stands to keep us warm.
We kept track of each other's bets and rooted for each other's horses. We'd lose a couple of dollars, then win a few. Buy more hot coffee or popcorn with our winnings, then bet again to lose a couple.
Ready to start...
Away they go....
...and here they are for the finish!
Pete was the only one who kept his $20 bill in his pocket most of the day. He was saving it all for one bet. The couple across the road from them are the trainer and exerciser for a horse named Don't Tell Sophia, and she was scheduled to run in the 9th race.
At one point my brain felt overtaxed at trying to figure out which horse to bet on, so I called my friend Jan in Kerrville, who loves horse racing, and told her I'd place a bet for her. Her horse didn't do any better than mine had. Oh, well.
I held back on a few races, figuring I'd put my last $5 on Pete and Barb's neighbor's horse. We all wandered out front again to watch the horses being walked. This was really going to be a big race, with the winner not only receiving $300,000, but also being allowed to enter the Breeders Cup Race, which Curt said is second in prestige only to the three Triple Crown Races (Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes). Pete put down his $20. After looking at the race book and recognizing the competition, Curt put his last $2 on his favorite jockey, who had already won two races today. I quietly said to him, "What do you think? Should I bet on Pete's friend's horse?" Curt said, "she doesn't stand a chance, racing against all these big names." So I figured I'd keep the $5 in my pocket and not go home empty-handed.
The race started, and Sophia came out of the gate last. She lost ground in the first turn, and continued to fade in the straightaway. By the time she entered the second turn, she was so far behind the rest of the pack that she didn't even appear on the projected screen showing the race. We all felt so sorry for Pete's friend, who had worked so hard training her. And then coming out of the second turn, she started to close the gap between herself and the next-to-last horse. One by one she passed them all up, until she reached the finish line well ahead of them all. It didn't seem possible to come from that far behind to winning in the last quarter of the race. The crowd went absolutely wild! And of course, we were delighted for Pete and especially thrilled for his neighbor! What fun to know a winner!
Here's the happy better with his fistful of winnings. That boy knew what he wanted, he waited for it all day, and it worked for him!
Back out in the blue jean parking lot, I got my prize for the day. My first set of fall trees of different colors. Have I mentioned that I love fall?
After a delicious dinner at Pete and Barb's house, we said our fond farewells. We hope to get together at Christmastime in Kerrville, hoping that our whole Bible study group will be able to have a reunion.
A couple of last photos for the road....
The good one...
And the scary one.
Old friends are so much fun!