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June 08, 2009
by Jeff Briggs
I enjoy gambling. I also enjoy drinking and dressing in a ridiculous fashion. So the fact that I have never made it to any of the Triple Crown horse racing events to this point in my life was somewhat surprising. With that in mind, this past weekend I made a trip up to the Belmont Stakes in New York with eight of my friends.
Obviously my first goal was to dress like the sort of jerk that I expect normally dresses up for events such as these. With a limited budget and a disappointing run to the thrift store, I couldn’t dress quite how I wanted, but I was still able to put together a double popped collar matching the two colors on my plaid shorts, plus a fedora. Leaving for this trip from Manhattan, the nine of us had to go to Penn Station to hop on the train out to Long Island.
At Penn Station it became abundantly clear who was going to the Belmont – everyone. The girls in sundresses and giant hats were out in full force, already getting drunk. In addition to a good mix of fun dudes dressed stupidly, there were others dressed the same way, but clearly in a completely serious fashion. Finally we got on the train and arrived at the Belmont at about the time of the 5th race.
The Belmont itself is huge. In addition to just being a giant track, and that area being full of people, there is also a large picnic area complete with a live band and more food stands than a carnival. Why was it so important that we (discretely) brought our own liquor into this event? Because 16 oz beers were $7.75, or you could spring for a 24 oz Heineken for $11: not exactly bargain basement prices, but prices I ended up paying nonetheless, and seemingly so did thousands and thousands of other people.
After getting our bearings we worked our way down to the track and found a place right next to the rail. Of course we managed to find our way next to an idiot, who was sitting on a bench behind us and seemed to have a problem with us for whatever reasons he could think of. He informed my friend that his sandals didn’t match his shirt, demanded a sip of my friends drink, bragged to us about being there since 8am, and walked up behind me and started messing with my collars and telling me “now you look presentable.” Eventually he got fed up with us, and took his $200 Ray-Bans left for another spot.
Now it was time to make money, by which of course I mean lose all the money I brought. I know how I personally faired on the betting is of no interest to you, but I will say that for the eight races I bet (multiple bets per race) while there I won a total of two bets. For the Belmont Stakes itself I believe I had money on 5 horses to win among other trifectas and exactas, of course nothing on Summer Bird, who despite how much I yelled during the race, managed to ruin every bet I made. Surprisingly, during the time at the track, I saw only one person passed out face down in the grass; he probably had the right idea, or at least he probably lost less money than I did. But if you like horse races, gambling, funny hats, or drinking, I suggest a trip to any of the Triple Crown events at least once in your life.