October 12, 2004
Artsnletters and I take the no. 10 bus to Hastings Park after an "I can’t believe I ate all that" dim sum meal in Chinatown. Still in a digestive stupor, I ponder the racing form, mulling over the peculiarly compressed descriptions of horses’ race histories. "What on earth does filedtomence mean?" I ask Artsnletters, who quickly supplies, "Failed to Menace." I rummage through the racing form, vainly looking for an abbreviation key, then resign myself to wagering according to my time-honored system of deciding which horse "looks like he’s having a good day."
Artsnletters, who hasn’t been to a track since childhood, proves more adept at deciphering the racing form. But she gamely goes along with my established racetrack rhythm, walking over to the saddling enclosure and listening intently to the announcer’s pre-race analysis, all the while scrutinizing the horses as they’re paraded by. For the first race, we both like the looks of a lanky grey filly, but she trails dismally throughout the race. I pick the winner in the next race, which boosts my confidence, but I placed the bet to show rather than win and end up making all of about eighty cents on the bet. "I should’ve had more confidence in that horse," I say, and resolve to bet more boldly.
This plan backfires, though, in subsequent races, as the horse I pick to win places second and the horse I pick to place comes in third. Artsnletters, with what we laughingly call "beginner’s luck" (only we both know better), picks winners back to back in the third and fourth races, including one thrilling win by a scrappy-looking gelding named "Golden Pursuit," who comes roaring out of nowhere to pick off front-running "Won Handsome Devil," who has led the field from the starting gate. It’s a classic "Seabiscuit vs. War Admiral" moment, with the gutsy chestnut besting the heavily-muscled odds-on favorite.
"YAAAYYY, WHOOO-WHO!" We’re both so thrilled at Golden Pursuit’s finish that we’re jumping up and down at the rail, waving our programs wildly in the air. I even momentarily forget that I’d bet on "Won Handsome Devil" as we lose ourselves in celebrating the underdog’s victory.
Neither of us picks a winner in the last race, but it doesn’t matter. Repeatedly, as we wait for the bus and then ride back to our hotel, we shake our heads and say, "Man, that was SOME race!"
From journal Vancouver Reflections