Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

What you have here is an old guy. In education for 30 years, started teaching elementary, ended as library and media director of community college. I've enjoyed mountain climbing, sports car rallying, was pipe major of a bagpipe band, played guitar and sang during the folk revival, walking and hiking later in life. Now fairly sedentary. Enjoy reading, esp. mysteries and fantasy, but my reading is pretty eclectic. Enjoy movies, giving Netflix a workout.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Trip Report #1 - Lexington, KY and Keeneland

I promised sooner or later to write about our trip, or rather, some selective highlights of our trip. I probably should approach this sequentially or chronologically but I won’t. Hit or miss is what you get. One of the last places we visited before turning for home was Kentucky. I have always wanted to see blue grass and thoroughbred horses. Not that we don’t have thoroughbreds in Washington State. Emerald Downs is a bit south of Seattle. But the level of horses is a bit lower than those that run in Kentucky. We arrived in Lexington to find that the fall meet was still in progress. We determined to go to the races the following day, which was a Saturday. When we arrived at the Keeneland track we found that the grandstand was completely sold out. If we were to watch the races it was to be from benches down at the apron of the track. It was a bit windy and there was a chill in the air. It didn’t bode well for an entertaining day at the races. Anna went back to the car to get an umbrella (just in case) and hats for each of us. When she encountered a woman employee of the track (they wear green sports coats) she got to talking and told her a sob story. Edith managed to wangle seats for us in the top row of the grandstand, in front of where wheelchair patrons sit. In exchange we were able to give her housing information since her son, a lieutenant in the army, is being transferred to Fort Lewis. We were able to warn her away from some places that look good on the map but in reality have a fair amount of crime. What a nice person!

Just being there was a thrill for me. Anna bet most of the races and came out about even. I was content to bet a couple of race but mostly just to take it all in. And we bet on an Irish horse for out niece, Kelly Halligan, who paints the world green on St. Patrick’s Day. It came in last. Large television screen at either end of the tote board keep track of the race, sometimes using a split screen technique, so you could really see what was happening on the back stretch. Unusual for me was the fact that there were two finish lines, depending upon the length of the race. This is because the track does not have a front chute to start from. Interesting to see a man change the finish line by raising a red pole with a large round red marker at the top. I suspect the jockeys could become confused with two finish lines a furlong apart.

Around the sixth race the sprinkles began. By the seventh race it was raining hard and the track condition was changed from ‘fast’ to ‘muddy.’ And it really looked sloppy. Another feature we do not have at Emerald Down is a turf course. Two of the day’s races were on the turf. And I got to see one of the country’s top jockeys. Pat Day rode in two races. The first race he came in seventh but he won the feature race, which was a Grade III stakes, The Valley View, $100,000 added. In all, it was a fine day at the races, thanks to a kindly woman track employee. We were warm and dry and enjoyed every last minute of it. Now if I can get back to Lexington sometime when the trotting horses (standardbreds) are running at The Red Mile.


Blogger Cap'n Bob Napier said...

The last time I went to the track my first horse not only came in last but came in alone. The jockey fell off out of the gate.

My only trip to Lexington was in 1967. I went with a group of Army buddies and we were unaware that the Kentucky Derby was being run that weekend. Hotel rooms were non-existent. We took in the strip show across from the bus station, walked the rainy streets for a few hours, and ended up huddled in the bus station until the following morning. Other than the strip show, a total bummer.

11:22 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

There's horseracing in Houston, but on the far north side, which means that I've never been to see it. I did go once to the greyhound race track near Texas City. But it's enclosed, and at the time there were no nonsmoking areas. Very unpleasant after a while to a guy who hasn't lit up in many years.

6:25 AM  
Blogger Horse Sense said...

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11:21 PM  

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