Sunday, October 05, 2014

Final Day At The Downs

If you were here on Friday, you know I was going to attend the final day of live horse racing at Suffolk Downs. If (for some unfathomable reason) you weren't here on Friday, here's the why of it.

I'm happy to report that MY WIFE and I did, indeed, go there on Saturday. I met up with the crew from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. They were very nice and I think the interview I did went well. I was informed that it will likely air sometime in the next two weeks. When it does, I'll provide some way for you to view it (unless I view it first and I see that I came across as a total idiot, in which case I'll deny everything I've said on both Friday and today.)

Some of you may be wondering if I made any money betting the ponies on that last day.

As might be divined from the illustration, the answer is no. I lost a few bucks. I am happy to report, however, that the very last bet I made at Suffolk Downs was a winner.

It was an overcast and rainy day, not the most pleasant imaginable for autumn in New England. The track was muddy and it drizzled off and on for most of the time we were there. It got to the fifth race (of nine) and I said to MY WIFE, "This is the last one for us if I don't cash."

It wasn't because we would have been out of money; I want that to be clear. It was just that I wasn't getting much of a thrill from the whole experience. I had been psyched for meeting the Australians and doing the interview, but after that it was just mostly a depressing scene. It was the last day, after all, and most of the workers there on that day were losing their jobs tomorrow. The crowd was larger than it had been for years, but, again, that was because it was the last day, forever, for thoroughbred horse racing in New England. Had the place been closing without advance notice, the crowd would have been half the size. As I say, it was overcast and dreary. And I hadn't picked a winner yet. Had I been spectacularly successful, it would have seemed sunnier.

So we watched the fifth race and my horse, Get Back Jack, led from wire-to-wire. He paid $9.20 to win. I had five dollars on his nose and so I went to the window to cash my $23.00 ticket. I decided My Dad would be proud of me if I walked away with the winnings from that final race instead of maybe blowing it back trying to get fully even on the final four races. MY WIFE was amenable to whatever I wished, bless her, and so we left. There is a certain amount of satisfaction in walking away a winner the final time out (even if one is a loser overall.)

Speaking of losers, I'll tell you a funny story involving my softball teammate and friend, Big Jay Atton. He called me on Saturday morning and left a message. He asked me when I was going to the track. He works somewhat nearby to Suffolk Downs, so I imagined he might get off work and come on over. I called him back and got his answering service. I told him to call me back. He did, again leaving me a message. We were playing phone tag and now I was it.

So, I called him back. He answered, saying "Hello, Jim Sullivan!" I said hello. He asked me what time we were going. I started telling him what our plans were. He interrupted me and asked me a question. I spoke. He interrupted again. I started speaking again and then he says, "Nah, this is just my voice mail message. Leave a message." And I heard a "BEEP".

The bastard had recorded a message, using my name, and had totally suckered me. I left him an obscene recording, while laughing.

As it turns out, he didn't get back to me after that message and apparently he showed up at the track himself but never spotted us. He got all indignant about it on Facebook. We would have loved to have met him there - the Australian TV crew might have made him a star in Oz, as well; you never know - but it didn't happen. Well, shoot, I'm about 5' 10" and MY WIFE is 5' 1", so we can duck under the radar in a big crowd, but if he had called me back and told me he was definitely going to be there, our chances of spotting him, at 6' 7", would have been much better. Oh, well. I would have introduced him to the Australians as a former jockey just to see the look on their faces.

Soon, with more better stuff (or more bettor stuff, but not at Suffolk.)

P.S. Got the photo from this place. Since I lost money overall, I hope it's OK. A lawsuit would make neither of us any money.


Hilary said...

Sounds like a bittersweet sort of day but I'm glad you were able to walk away with a win, in the end. I laughed out loud at your trickster friend. Too funny and well done on his part. Looking forward to seeing that interview.

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip said...

"I would have introduced him... ... as a former jockey just to see the look on their faces."

I think I'd have paid to see that.

My only knowledge of Suffolk Downs comes from back in the day when the place where I worked sold the Daily Racing Form.
I read some of the articles ...never could understand handicapping.
There wad (is?) some good journalism in that paper.
The mainstream media could learn something.

Should Fish More said...

Suffolk downs is famous, what things happened there.

The only horse race I've been at was at Happy Valley in Hong Kong, around '71. The most expensive piece of grass in the world, back then. The betting was twofold...the legit stuff at the track, and the off track betting, done through god knows what, signals, etc.

Twas fun back then, trying to blend with the brits. By the end of the one week R&R, I had dinner with the first secretary of the embassy...went well until he asked me ''who exactly are you?"

Suldog said...

Hilary - I'm looking forward to seeing it, too. I hope it came out as well as I think it did.

(not my uncle) Skip - The Racing Form was a good read sometimes, for sure. I never did pick one up yesterday. The cost is about $7 now, and I figured what I had in the program (which does include some past performance charts) was enough without adding another seven bucks onto what I had to make back to break even.

Should Fish More - Happy Valley is the place in the center of the city, right? I went there with My Dad when we were in Hong Kong. He had many friends in Asia, since he was with Singapore Airlines, and so we were treated royally. I remember the rooms we were in - some sort of jockey club super clubhouse - had perhaps the thickest carpeting my feet had ever been on. I could literally feel the plushness through my shoes.

Jackie said...

A bittersweet day....
and wonderfully penned, my friend.
Good on ya' Big Jay Atton.
Love it! He sounds like a super friend.

Along These Lines ... said...

Darn, missed my chance to go up to the Downs

Buck said...

It's too bad the weather didn't cooperate for your last day at the track. OTOH, one could say the powers-that-be called up perfect weather for the occasion, in a manner of speaking.

I'm glad you and the Aussies got on well... I'll be looking for that video link.

Tabor said...

Endings are always bittersweet. Glad your opportunity panned out, though.

Shammickite said...

I've been away for a couple of weeks so had to scroll backwards to find out what was going on with all this talk of fame in OZ and the race track closing forever. I'm sad about the race track. Horse racing is a tradition, what will the world be like without it? And what will all those horses and jockeys and trainers and grooms do next? Glad you came away with a few winning bucks in your pocket, and please let us know how to access the Aussie interview.
And put another shrimp on the barbie....

Daryl said...

your friend's VM reminded me of this story an old co worker told

her mother called her son (the mother's son, the co worker's brother) and the phone rang a few times then he said hello and the mom said hello listen blah blah blah (it was years ago i don't remember what the mom said) and then there was a pause .. mom said did you hear me and the son said sorry i can't hear you i am not here please leave a message …

it was very funny back when the co worker told it

Anonymous said...

Bittersweet, for sure, but I agree your dad would be proud that you went...and left after a winning race. How funny that Big Jay left a personalized mess-with-you message on his VM. Serves him right that he didn't find you there!

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

A tad disappointing to see, on the final stretch as it were, that you'd borrowed the photo; I was dying to ask what you'd said to make it laugh like that.

Joanna Jenkins said...

And AUSTRALIAN journalist?!? Who knew they were so interested in American horse racing.

The race track in LA closed too-- I'm pretty sure it's becoming a housing development with massive retail stuff attached. Just what Los Angeles needs.

Love that you walked away from the track a winner.


Anonymous said...

Lol its still my voice message a week later 44