the wonderful world of veena.

31 March 2014

12 of 52: a return to the races.

For anyone who grew up or lived in Arkansas, going to the horse races at Oaklawn was a staple each spring. Our family would generally go the last weekend during our Spring Break, spending two days getting dressed up and hanging out in the comforts of the Jockey Club.

My father is big into going over the tip sheets and seeing who the favourites are, so I would always sit next to him and see who he was betting on before I made my choices. My number one rule was to always bet on Pat Day, a jockey who raced at Oaklawn for ages and ages. And he rarely ever let me down. Beyond that, Calvin Borel was generally a solid choice, and after that I would bet on horses' names and what colours the jockey would be wearing. The bets were for $2, and whether or not I won, it was a fun experience walking up to the lobby, choosing who I wanted to place my bet with, and giving my mother my money since I wasn't old enough to place the bet myself.

After I went to boarding school and college, I've not had a chance to return to the races. My parents still try to go once a year, but I always had meetings or exams or work and was never able to join them. When I asked about it this year, we found a weekend that worked for all three of us, and I invited Britney to join us for the day. It was only on the drive to Hot Springs on Friday that I realized it's been 16 years since I last went to the races!

We began our visit with a long-held tradition: dinner at La Hacienda. Quite possibly my father's favourite restaurant, this is always where we eat on our first night in town. For some reason I really didn't like going there when I was in middle school; I don't think I had a reason for my dislike, I think I was just being an annoying pre-teen. Who knows. Regardless, the tradition has continued, and I found on Friday that I very much enjoyed the food, especially the green salsa they give you with the chips.

On Saturday Britney met us at the hotel and we headed over to Oaklawn. As always, it's a bit of a shit-show finding parking and crossing the street and getting programs and tip sheets. We got to our table and ordered some nachos - seriously amazing nachos - and settled in to start picking our horses. Calvin Borel and Ramon Vasquez - my favourite jockeys - came in big for me, as did the Indian owners who had two horses win races. The horse named after the Delta won, but the one named after bourbon did not. Bummer.

In the end I lost about $20, which at Oaklawn almost feels like a win, so I'm going to be happy with it. We spent a fun Saturday cheering for our horses and stuffing our faces and generally enjoying ourselves. I always wish I could spend a few more days, but I'm glad to have finally gotten back, even for just a day.

And if you ever find yourself in Arkansas in the spring and wondering what to do, head down to Hot Springs and check out the races. You might even win some money.

[bee and i snuck into the 'triple crown lounge' between races to take ridiculous pictures. this is what you get when you take us to fancy places]
other highlights included: lunch at Rhodes where I finally got to see the newly-renovated Rat; Stanford v Dayton NCAA Sweet 16 game at the Forum.

Happy week with some hopefully gorgeous weather ahead!

No comments:

Post a Comment