Monday, July 25, 2005

The Horses Are On the Track

Guess what... It's racing season! In Del Mar!

I love bettin' the ponies. Actually, I don't usually put any money down, I just tell people who I think looks good. And by that, I mean which horses are the prettiest.

I've been going to Del Mar since I was about 10 years old. The track was famously built because Bing Crosby wanted a place near his home in Rancho Sante Fe to race horses. Well, that's not completely true, but it sounds good, doesn't it? It opened in 1937, and Bing was one of the original founders of the track. It's a legendary place... All sorts of famous people hang out there, but most importantly, famous horses (like that one they made the movie about) raced there and the legendary jockey Bill Shoemaker called it home.

In high school, we used to roll in after a day at the beach (the track's nicknames are "Where the Turf Meets the Surf" and "Heaven By the Pacific") and catch the last couple races for free because they stop charging entry after a certain time. We'd place tiny little bets and try to get someone to buy us a margarita... good times.

But I always loved looking at the horses, and the sound of the announcing trumpet, and of course, the anouncer: "Annnnnnnd, away they go!" He had variations on that theme, but not too many. Best of all, there is a theme song to this track, written and recorded by Bing himself and played at the opening of each race day, 15 minutes before post time. (Hear it here.)

In the Bay area, I lived walking distance from Golden Gate Fields, which was also a fun place to take the friends on the weekends. LA has the beautiful Santa Anita Racetrack (which is what think inspired Bing to push for the lovely little course in Del Mar)and it's always a stunning place to bet. But my heart will alays be with Del Mar. And my money too.