Every summer I walk, optimistically, through the gates at Arlington Park racetrack and wonder what the odds are of me picking a winner. It doesn’t happen very often, probably because I have my own method of selecting the horse most likely to be first past the winning post. I go through the program and look for names. If it’s catchy, great! If it includes a family name, like Uncle Charlie’s Fortune, even better! Never mind that it’s a rank outsider (it usually is.) That’s the one my $2 is going on. And not just to place. It’s going to win. Maybe.
Once I’ve put the bet on and it’s too late to do anything about it, I go down to the enclosure to see what my chosen horse looks like. As they parade past, I check out the numbers, hoping that mine is the one that looks full of pep and ready to go. More often than not it turns out to be the horse that they had to wake up in order to push it out of the stalls.
There’s mine. It may appear like the person leading it out has more energy but never mind. Even if the horse looks like it’s really not planning on running today, perhaps the jockey is wearing the right colors. Purple would be good.
Alright!! Hope springs eternal and I dash off to watch the horses make their way onto the course and out towards the starting gate. I silently plead with my nag not to exhaust itself by galloping about too much before the off. Take a nice gentle trot out there, would be my advice. I once picked a horse that got all the way to the start and then had to come back to get some piece of equipment checked out. By the time it got back to the start again, it had lost all interest in the proceedings and sauntered home in last place.
My horse is usually the last one to be coaxed into the starting gate. It has other ideas. It has decided to retire from racing and become a show pony. The others are becoming impatient but finally Uncle Charlie’s Fortune is persuaded to participate in the event. Could this be my lucky race? Will I be the first in line with a winning ticket? Not likely. My pick, which is supposedly running in the 2-o-clock, might be lucky if it finishes amongst the runners in the 3-o-clock!
At last they’re under starters orders and they’re off! Last one into the gate and last one out. Good old Uncle Charlie. But what’s this? All of a sudden the old war horse has caught the whiff of battle and is gradually creeping up closer to the front runners. What once seemed an impossible dream is now becoming a reality and as they come spinning out of the turn, Uncle Charlie has fought his way into the lead and hangs on to win it by a nose. At 100-1 and against all the odds, Uncle Charlie is bringing home the bacon.
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