So, the “summer route” to school takes me past the local horse racing track, “Sandy Downs“… Of course, as we were searching for fun adventures to have this weekend, it popped up because…. THIS WAS OPENING DAY! Unable to resist the curiosity to see just what all goes on down at the track, and because we can, my aunt and I ventured forth into the unknown.
And it was awesome!
Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t Churchill Downs, and there were no mint juleps. (Or Potato martinis… for the one who asked.) But who cares? It was small time, down home, just having a great time horse racing! There was one of everyone there – cowboys, sorority girls, old timers, newborns, farmers, city folk. Now, I’m pretty sure that 75% of the people in the stands were family and friends of the horse owners or jockeys, but everyone had a good time! People were polite to each other, enjoyed their circle(s) of friends, and made a generally awesome crowd to be part of. (And it wasn’t really crowded enough to make people have to sit on top of each other, which I’m sure helped.)
The track was small, but smartly set up. There were bouncy games for the kids out back, grandstands for watching, betting downstairs (and upstairs for bets on other race tracks if you wanted), and parking wherever it seemed to make sense on the parking field/lot. In between races there were little games for the kids run by local radio hosts, lots of socializing, and some great people watching. You can walk to one side of the grandstands and see them saddling the horses for the next race and getting the jockeys in order, and then right back to your seat for the race (really, it wasn’t crowded even though someone in front of us said this was “WAY more people than usual!”).
Seeing as neither my aunt nor I had any experience betting or even understanding the stat sheets handed out to us so that we could bet, everything was an experiment. We were totally the newcomer nerds who asked the guy at the betting window how to do it and what everything was called. But, for a pair of noobs, we did pretty good. Granted our methods of “choosing” winners aren’t the most orthodox, but this is why it’s good everything is a $2 bet, right? We had a round of picking winners based on cool horse names, one round based on the horse’s previous winnings, one based on place of origin, one based on which horse looked pretty, and my favorite round of “most unfortunate jockey name” (Jesus Virgen won us $6 in that one).
After the first 4 races, we were up $4.60 (won $16.60 from betting $12)… Except for race #5, when a certain aunt of mine lost our betting slip!!! And my horse took first that time! So, at the end of the day, we won 60 cents. But that’s better than losing money?
We left a little early – after 5 of 8 races, because the bleachers were getting uncomfortable, and we’d been doing errands and chores all day before this so we were exhausted!
Definitely an adventure that needed to be had, definitely an afternoon full of giggles and new experiences, and definitely something that I would never have done in GA.
Overall verdict? I’m not buying season passes, but if any of y’all come to visit, we can totally go to the races!