Back by popular demand, today’s post is written by my friend Jonathan Silverman, offering up his amazing account of a recent summer racing trip. Did he make it to Del Mar? Galway? Deauville? York? Nah. Much better. Check it out below. . .
Samson showed me how pari-mutuel was done at the Crow Fair, a four-day race meet that was intermixed with the All-Indian Rodeo in Montana. As a math geek, I was really curious about how it all worked, watching the young woman calculate the win bets the day before, with paper math and then a calculator.
When I got to the window just as the race result was announced, Samson, who calculated the quinella bets, called for me to enter the room and watch him calculate the quinella. Next to him were cards of every possible combination from 1 to 10 (1-10 to 9-10, and every combination in between) with little numbers printed on the bottom.
He had marked all the bets for that race in a sheet (see photo), and then when the race was done, added up the total bets for the winning combination, the total bets overall, and minus the 20 percent takeout, calculated the winning payout. The little numbers at the bottom tell the clerk whether the ticket is from a particular race—they track the intervals of those numbers. They paid off in .50 or dollar intervals (I forgot to ask how they rounded).
As for the meet itself—it was the essence of racing. The programs (see photo) had only horse, jockey, owner, and trainer—no past performances. Some of the horses, I found out from trainers, had run at more formal tracks, but I had no access to that information. Some of the horses were ridden with jockeys in jeans and sneakers (though all were wearing their colors).
I still managed to do better than even, based on hanging out at the paddock and talking to the trainers and jockeys. It wasn’t exactly inside information, but it wasn’t not inside either….
This type of racing is not common in one sense—most meets do have past performances—but it also does represent a type of small circuit racing, particularly popular in the West. The jockeys, trainers, owners, and race officials I talked to all said circuit racing is struggling in Montana and the West for many of the same reasons that it is struggling elsewhere—expenses (many mentioned insurance). The Crow Fair actually represented one of the bigger meets in that region this year.
For me, it showed me that when reduced to its essence, racing is still racing—fun and compelling.
Race 8: $100 win on #2 SILVER TIMBER
I am hoping I’m not allowing sentiment to enter into my picking here as I love this cool old guy. He had no chance last time against a speed favoring race flow and I’m guessing he gets a better setup today. He’s the fastest, classiest horse in the race. That might be enough.
RESULTS: I ain’t gonna lie, I was really hoping Bundestag would forget that he was Bundestag at the top of the lane and actually win yesterday. We would have been out and up if he had since he was a juicy price at 15s. But our place bet was good for $147.50. Still stuck $543.75. This is starting to feel doable.