Monday, August 30, 2010

Fair Game

I went to the Maryland State Fair on Saturday, for the express purpose of going bet on some horse races.  I went last year too and posted on it.

I’m always under-whelmed by the Maryland State Fair, as I’m walking through it on the way to the track.  They’ve got the whole midway, rides, games and food stands, all crammed into an area about the size of a football field.
You’d think a State Fair would warrant a little more real estate than that.  I’ve been to the Ohio State Fair and the New York State Fair, and they were both immense.  Even the Fulton County Fair in Ohio is large enough to dwarf this one.

Oh, and they have fried stuff:

The year I went to the Fulton County Fair, I went with my buddy Rik and his family.  Back then, he was married and his girls showed horses.  I went because they were staying on the grounds for 3 or 4 days and Rik needed someone to make sure he didn’t strangle his wife and kids keep him calm and occupied. 

It was funny because I am not a “horse guy.”  Dave Barry once said that he doesn’t trust any animal that has feet made out of the same material as bowling balls.  I do not disagree.

At one point, Rik’s wife had me hold her horse’s lead, while she did… something… I don’t know what the hell she was doing.  I was too wired from looking into this giant animal’s enormous face.

Then, all of a sudden, she WALKED AWAY!  I was like, “Whoa, where the hell are you going?  You can’t leave me with this horse?  Have you seen what a bowling ball can to to foot bones?

She called back over her shoulder, “It’ll be fine, just don’t let him graze.”

I couldn’t even form words… What the hell was she doing leaving ME, and card-carrying suburbia-slicker, in alleged control of a horse? 

Seriously, all I could do was bluff.  If the horse wanted to graze, or walk away, or leap over a fence, there wasn’t a thing I was going to be able to do about it.  I could just see it…

Hey, where’s my horse?

He left.  He went over there somewhere…” (Pointing towards the horizon)

Oh yeah, I wanted to talk about the races.

I learned something about the races, this time.  Spending the day gambling on horses is a lot more fun when you’re winning.  I did not have a good day and was not at all happy about it.  My last couple times out I either broke even or came out ahead.  Even last year, I opened by hitting Exactas (picking the 1st and 2nd place horses) in the first 3 races and played with “house money” the rest of the day.

This time; not the same.  I had my program and my tip sheets.  I pored over all the information.  I went down in flames.  Here are the “lowlights”:

Race 1: not much history on these new horses.  I paired a favorite with one with a name I liked… Sista.  It reminded me of a dear friend I used to work with, who was half black, half white and all Sista.  She’d be complaining about all the stuff she had to do, then ask if I wanted to go to lunch.  I’d ask if she wasn’t too busy for lunch.  She’d always say, “Sista gotta eat…” 

This time, Sista ran 3rd, screwing my Exacta.

Race 2: I placed 2 Exactas, using a favorite with 2 different horses.  I noticed that there seemed to be 2 brothers among the jockeys: Christopher Ho and Wesley Ho.  I wondered if they might have another sibling, Stanky Ho.

Christopher Ho lived up to his name by screwing me out of another Exacta; bringing the #2 horse out of nowhere to finish right in between my two picks.  He was on Mymanmax.  How did I miss that?  Penguins fans, you know who always comes through in the clutch?  Max Talbot.  I totally should have bet on Max being ridden by a Ho.

Race 3: I decided to go with names.  The #5 horse was Unadulterated.  I place Exacta bets with him and 2 other horses, Mr Flips, and Brew for the Band (ridden by the other Ho Brother.)

This pick was an unadulterated failure.  Brew came in 3rd, Unadulterated came in 4th.  There are no bets for that finish.  The winner was Mario Flowers.  “Mario”… another Pittsburgh Penguins reference.  I’m going to have to watch out for those.

Race 4: I liked the #7 horse, Rambunctious Boy.  I paired him with 2 others, You Rascal and Crack Thepat.  I figured, I’m rambunctious, I’m a rascal, and I’d like to see the Pats get cracked.

Big CF with this race.  There were inquiries, investigations, and the finishing order got shuffled.  None of this did me any good.  I lost, then upon further review, lost again.  This was all C. Ho’s doing, who won, then came in third.

Race 5: This was another race between horses without much experience.  I didn’t want to invest much so I picked a couple favorites.  But then there was one horse with a name… Pop’s Mojo.  At the last second, I decided to put $2 on Pop’s Mojo to win.

Pop’s Mojo won!  Whoo Hoo!  Can’t stop the old Mojo Boogie!  Papa just earned… sigh… $12.60.  Didn’t get me even, but it filled in the hole a little bit.

Race 6: Big race… 6 horses, all previous winners.  I though I had a vibe on Green Velvet, so I paired him with 2 other solid horses on Exacta boxes, Franklin’s Philly, because he was ridden by a hot female jockey, and Disco Haze, because I used to have a lot of those, back in the day.

Green freakin’ Velvet finished dead last.  The two winners?  Franklin’s Philly and Disco Haze.  FUCK!!!

Race 7:  More inexperienced horses.  I paired the two favorites in an Exacta box, and picked one to win, DJ’s Ladies Man.  I may not have been a lady’s man, but I was a DJ. 

DJ for the win!!  Whoo Hoo!!  That pays me… $3.60.  Shit.  Why even bother cashing in that ticket?

I watched this one from down on the rail.  Here’s the finish:
I like watching from the rail.  You can feel the ground shake as they run by.  Very cool.

Race 8:  Feeling completely unlucky, I just bet the 2 and 4 horses.  2 and 5 won.  Shit!!!

Race 9:  I loaded up the 5-horse, Lord of the Dance (because I used to have some serious moves) with 2 other horses, which didn’t matter because the Lord Danced his way to 4th place out of 5 horses.  C-Ho came in second again.

Race 10:  Last chance.  The 6-horse, Crafty Son, that one’s all me!  And I used to work in a craft store.  Granted, I wasn’t the least bit crafty… I always said I was Crafting-Impaired.  I always got the old ladies on the staff to make my crafty stuff for me.  In return, I’d reach things for them on high shelves.  Which was indeed, crafty of me.

So I paired Crafty Son with Concatenation (ridden by the hot female jockey) and then with Legal Pad, because I used to write on those.  Plus, the esteemed C-Ho was riding him.

Hot female jockey came through, but with Legal Pad and C-Ho.  Crafty Son did not finish anywhere near the front.  I got to see him not finish from right up close.
Concatenation, fulfilling one half of my failed Exacta.

Jockey Jenna Joubert, being all hot and female.

Day's damage: -$43.80 in bets.  Add to that the $12 for Fair entry and the programs and the grand total was -$55.80.  I've had better days.

I had half a mind to go back to the barn and confront the Ho’s that kept messing with my bets.

I’d be all, “Heeeey, Hoooooo, heeeeey, hooooo…”

They’d be, “What’s up, Joe?

I’d be, “Why you messing with a bro?

And they’d be, “You know what they say, ‘Ho’s before bros!

I know, that was a long way to go for the money line…

Sometimes life isn’t Fair.

22 comments:

  1. What happened to "Yo Mama"? I put a lot of bucks on that nag! Did she place? or show? Don't tell me some idiot LET HER GRAZE, and she got gas!! Please don't tell me that she farted and scared herself and bolted for the stands and missed the race!

    When we were little,we lived for the state fair! I loved the ferris wheel, and corn dogs.

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  2. A couple years ago I was at the State Fair track and a horse bucked its jockey and broke loose. He ran a couple of solo laps around the track by himself, doubling back any time the guide horses tried to trap him in. It was hilarious. Glad I didn't bet on him though...

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  3. The damage would have been far worse if you had had a couple of kid with you: "I want that! And some of that! Can I have some cotton candy? Let's play some games!"

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  4. Gina,
    Don't think that didn't occur to me. There were screaming kids all over the Midway, as I walked briskly by. It's really a sensory overload, and kids don't realize how rigged those games are. (Says the guy going to the horse races...lol).

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  5. You choose your horses like I choose my wine... whatever name or label strikes my fancy. And I have to admit, a lot of times I lose selecting wines this way.

    Better luck next time!

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  6. I'm with Jessica. My favorite wine to this day is Fat Bastard.

    However, a horse with that name, probably wouldn't get too many betters. You could totally win 50/1! Then you could hand them your 3.60 ticket and tell them to shove it where the sun don't shine, cuz you just won a trillion dollars on FAT BASTARD!

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  7. And this Dude once named his bike "SECRETARIAT". The gods of horse seem to have withdrawn their favor.
    Maybe an offering...PopTarts, oatmeal, of course, might appease them.

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  8. I went to a race in Jersey once and my friend asked me to pick a horse. I didn't know how to read the tip sheets, so I said, "I choose Irish Cris because I'm Irish, don't ya know." That damn horse won! The guy wanted to marry me right then and there. Thankfully, I said no, not today.

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  9. You shoulda stuck with the fried stuff, Bluz! You can never, EVER go wrong with fried stuff.

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  10. Jessica,
    I use the names as kind of an alternate universe. First and foremost, I pore over the program and tip sheets, examine horse’s history, look for a hot jockey, and try to analyze the data. (and by hot jockey, I mean one that’s winning. Jenna was an exception.)

    But after all the analyzing, my only winners were picked via their names. Go figure.

    I’ve been to dog and horse tracks with my parents before. Dad analyzes the program like I do. Mom goes by numbers. Walking in, she’ll say, “your numbers are 2 and 6 today.” Then she’ll bet her own hot numbers, and win just about as often as the rest of us do.

    I also learned that in a slots parlor, the absolute worst place to be is playing the machine beside my Mom. She’s like the Slots Whisperer. She’ll wander around and then alight on a machine, which will pay off for her within the first 5 minutes. The machine beside hers, where I am, is a dead end. I burned through my first roll of quarters (this was some years ago… most slots are electronic and e-card-based now) in about 10 minutes. Mom subsidized me the rest of the night with her winnings, probably because all the quarters were getting too heavy to hold.

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  11. Cassie,
    The real rub with the $3.60 ticket is that you still have to subtract the $2 bet, so I only made $1.60 on it. Plus, I had an additional $4 bet going, so it was only sheer stubbornness that made me cash it in at all. Heck, I could have won big later and that $1.60 could have been the difference between saying I broke even or not.

    Then again, I can SAY anything… Luckily, I have too much integrity to lie about such matters. (patting self on back)

    But your comment brings up another question… if YOU had to name a horse, what would you call it?

    My first impulse: “Blucher” from the famous line from Young Frankenstein.

    (Explanation for young little kids that have never seen the movie… the old caretaker’s name was Frau Blucher, (played by Cloris Leachman) and at the mention of her name (which they did a lot) all the horses would rear up and whiney.)

    Mary Ann,
    I was hoping that an offering of austerity might appease them. I decided not to buy any beer, pizza or hot dogs until I started winning. So basically, I went hungry. Although the fried Pop Tart stand was mighty tempting.

    Cher,
    I’m sure the guy had plenty of other reasons he wanted to marry you… ;o)

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  12. Bachelor Girl,
    And that was really a fried smorgasbord too… from Pop Tarts to Snickers to peanut butter and jelly sammiches.

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  13. What would I name it? Well, if Matt were to name a horse he said it'd be "Blue Balls." Mine would be "Surgi-Lube." (It's stuff we use at the hospital for rectal exams, dontchaknow.)

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  14. You know, someone smarter than me could call your divergent horse names a mini-commentary on the state of marriage in 2010. Luckily, I'm not that bright.

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  15. This post made me hungry for funnelcake. Yummm, funnelcake.

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  16. Remember, "Some days you just gotta smack a ho!"

    I've only been to the track twice. I never win anything. Don't know how to read the forms. I just bet the odds. Usually try to pick a 6/1 horse to win. Don't know nothin' about boxing and exactas.

    I always lose at horse racing and slot machines.

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  17. Bluz, did you see the video on the horserace that was a photo finish between 2 horses: My Wife Knows Everything and My Wife Doesn't Know? It was hilarious to hear the call. Of course, My Wife Knows Everything won.

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  18. Bagger,
    Your way is as good as any other way… Or at least as good as my way was this time. The bad thing about parsing the racing form is best summed up by what they always tell you about investments: “Past performance is no guarantee of future performance.”

    Regarding those horse names, I didn’t see the video but I heard the call on the radio. I have to believe that the 2 horses were owned by the same guy.

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  19. DG,
    I know funnelcake is a big deal at the fair, but that never really did it for me. I’d rather have a carmel apple.

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  20. They need to open parimutuel betting on the Pig Races next year.

    If you only lost $50, consider it an entertainment expense. I lost more than that at the gate after I paid for every living in-law I have within a 500 mile radius to get into the stupid fair.

    Bluz did not mention it, but the beer selection at the fair sucked the balls of the giant Charolais bulls in the Cow Palace too. If you don't drink Bud, Michelob Ultra, or Bud Light you were/are outta luck. It's the Maryland State Fair, the least they could do is offer a couple beers brewed within the state... Hugh Sisson, where are you?

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  21. I just have to say I was laughing my ass off when I read your blog! I am "momma ho"...yes, the mother of Wes and Chris Ho, the jockeys that screwed you out of your money. My title given lovingly by the best friends of the kids. The races are great entertainment and your blog describes it to a T. Your sense of humor must be applauded! I loved the race announcer when one of the boys won he would say to the crowd "can you say hooooo". Better Luck next year!

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  22. Anonymous Ho,
    I'm glad you enjoyed, and am glad you see it's all in good fun.

    At next year's Fair, I'll be sure to put a few bucks down on the Ho's.

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