On a chilly, Friday afternoon, my Sweet Patootie and I found ourselves at Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course in Austintown for the opening day of the horse racing season.
It was the third time in our lives that we had tried our luck at the sport of kings, so naturally, we considered ourselves experts. That’s why we passed on an opportunity to pick up a sheet with racing statistics. We jumped right into betting.
“Number 10 is a pretty color,” I said.
My husband’s approach was more calculated. “I’m going with No. 1. It’s not a long shot, but it’s not the favorite, either. If it comes in first, I’ll get a pretty decent payoff.”
“Two dollars on No. 10 to win,” I told the cashier.
“Two dollars on No. 1 to win,” my husband handed over his money. The cashier eyed us suspiciously.
“A couple of big spenders, eh?” he remarked.
Outside, the clouds rolled in as the horses kicked at the starting gate. The fake gunshot went off, and the ponies went flying down the track. All except two. Our two. At least they were consistent. They consistently remained at the back of the pack.
In the second race, I chose horse No. 4.
“Why?” wondered Mr. Skeptic.
“His name is Empty Talk. That reminds me of someone.”
He may have rolled his eyes. Empty Talk lived up to his name. Mr. Skeptic’s horse didn’t fare any better.
In the third race, I bet on No. 8.
“What’s so great about No. 8?” asked my poetic better half.
“She’s wearing a pink blanket and cute, little, pink sockie things on her hooves. And her name is Super Valentine.”
My scientific method of placing bets wasn’t working. This little filly was all looks and no talent. She came in last.
“At least she was pretty,” I told my husband.
“Pretty bad!” he joked. He moved faster than my horse, I’ll give him that.
In the fourth race, I placed a wager on Blame It On Eddie. This is what I did when Eddie didn’t come in first. The cashier thought it was time to offer advice.
“Why don’t you bet on a horse to win, place, or show? That way, you’ll increase your odds of winning.”
“We’ll stick with a sure thing,” answered Mr. Big Spender. This time, it was the cashier who rolled his eyes.
As we watched the stats board, the odds for my husband’s horse jumped to 13:1.
“Is that good?” I wondered aloud.
“Only if the horse comes in first,” he answered.
Which it did, earning Daddy Warbucks a whopping $28 on his meager wager.
“Nice work!” I said.
“So, now I get to give you money,” the cashier quipped.
It was the last time we won. Races six, seven, and eight were washouts.
“Where should we eat tonight,” I asked as we walked to the car.
“Anywhere we can get a meal for $28 or less,” he told me.