The one thing I most miss about regular visits to a racetrack is my comfortable spot.
Before Internet wagering and betting on a mobile gadget with an “app” and even before simulcasting, a pari-mutuel player went to a racetrack. This was not a chore; it was a treat. In fact, people so wanted to visit a racetrack they actually paid for parking and admission.
Then, once a person purchased his or her way into the premises, that person immediately went to a spot, his spot, her spot, their spot, the place they stayed during the program, the place where they felt most comfortable.
Those of us who recall being patrons of racetracks when all there was to wager upon was the program being held at the racetrack we paid to have the privilege to visit, remember our days or nights there through a single perspective—through the scenes available from our individual spots.
Routine was such a part of racetrack attendance that everyone secured his or her personal spot, it didn’t matter if you were a $2 or a $2,000 bettor. The heavy players purchased box seats, hosted friends in a four-seat area, and chose a particular box based on their comfort concerning a view and the distance between their box and a cashier.
The middle-class players had their spots in the clubhouse. Sometimes it was a seat or seats overlooking the track; other times it was a table in the restaurant or it could be a single standup table between the seating area and a string of cashier windows.
The masses huddled in the grandstand area, where any of a million little spots could be claimed as your own. People would hang out at their spots between races, drink beverages; eat snacks, smoke and talk. Then they would head out to the apron to watch the race, focusing mostly on the stretch drive as the horses pounded by them only yards away. Then it was back to their spots.
People respected other people’s spots. At the beginning of a meet, patrons claimed their spots like pioneer squatters claimed land and it was simply accepted that a claimed spot belonged to the person claiming it. There was a strange order to all of this because a lot of people knew one another, if only casually, but because everyone had their own spot, anyone could be found. Once you knew a person’s spot, that person could be found with no effort.
I had many different spots at many different racetracks. I also had many different spots during many different meets. But for the most part I, too, made whatever spot I claimed my headquarters. In fact, considering the material I carried with me when I was betting serious money, my spot was my second office. I needed space for my betting folder, my exacta charts, my wagering charts, my trip notebook, black pens, red pens, a racing program or form, etc.
Now the racetrack we play is, ore times than not, virtual and sometimes includes other racetracks on split-screen computer browsers and we are mostly indoors and mostly far from the madding crowd of patrons. But wherever we locate ourselves when playing the races, we all still look for comfortable spots.
|Hoof Beats Magazine Blog|
|The forum of Hoof Beats bloggers, featuring some of the best writers in harness racing: New York writer Tim Bojarski, handicapper Frank Cotolo, Tom LaMarra, Harness Racing Communications’ Ellen Harvey and Ken Weingartner, and Hoof Beats’ T.J. Burkett.|
|Subscribe to Hoof Beats Magazine|
|To comment on this blog send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org|