Monday, May 3, 2010

Derby Day

On Saturday afternoon (after spending the morning running errands), I met up with several friends for oysters and to watch the Kentucky Derby at Dante in Cambridge. It was a beautiful day so we sat out on the patio; however, we were saddened because all of the oysters were already eaten! (I felt like the Walrus and the Carpenter.)

We had just decided to leave in search of oysters, but before we could, we were approached by a man who was setting up an informal bet on the race. He had cut out the names of all of the horses from the newspaper, and for $5 you got to pick a horse's name out of an envelope. That was your horse for the race. If your horse won, you got $50; if it placed, $30; and if it showed, $20. Nothing was kept by the "house"; he said it was just to make the race a little more fun.

When I first heard this pitch, I was a little dubious, but "Miss Post" handed him the money without reservation. After some initial trading amongst ourselves, we each were settled with our horse. (Mine was Noble's Promise.) By the point that all of the horses/chances were sold, a good size group was gathered around the bar by the television and started comparing horses and exchanging pleasantries, which is unusual in buttoned-up Boston. The man running the game really got people pumped up for the race (this guy would really made a great game show host), and next thing you knew, everyone was cheering as the horses burst out of the gate, tearing up the sloppy course at high speed.

My horse was in the top three coming out of the gate as was D's, but both soon fell behind. Into the final stretch however, Miss Post's horse, Super Saver, pulled ahead and ended up coming in FIRST PLACE!! HURRAH!!! Fifty smackers!! To celebrate the victory, we bought a round of mint juleps, and E got some goggles just like the jockeys wear. Where these goggles came from, I don't know. At that point, I was so excited that she won that I didn't ask. (Later on though, I considered that the game show host was some kind of promoter, but that could just be the skeptical New Englander in me talking.)

Before he left, our host asked that next year we pay it forward. Wherever we are on Derby Day, cut out the names of the horses, put them in an envelope, and sell chances for $5. I think that I am going to to that. It really did make the race and the afternoon that much more fun!

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