Snow and ice are in the forecast, and tracks cancel from time to time. But that is winter racing, and horse players are well adjusted. Once upon a time when nine live races filled the day, you had to arrive early just to get a parking spot. Gamblers enjoyed the races, and going to the track was a big day out. You started thinking about the trek three days ahead, and then you ventured out to a local news stand at midnight to get your Daily Racing Form when they first arrived. It’s fair to say those were some of the best of times as a young racing fan.
As I watched snow fall to the ground and the old maple tree branches bend slightly from the weight of the wintery fluff, I fired up my computer and deposited money into my wagering account. No more getting dressed for the track and trying to get there early. I was ready to play the entire day of racing in the comfort of my man cave. No long lines, cold hot dogs, or cigarette smoke. I was ready for a big day of wagering, or however long my bankroll could last.
As a player who has seen both sides of the coin; how would I be wagering today? Would you find me bundled up at the track watching the races in the cold, or sitting at home in shorts and a t-shirt? If I were pressed to give an answer, it would be more time at home. No travel, no extra cost, and everything I need at my fingertips. I can grab a bite and still make it back to be in front of the TV and computer. I have every track at the click of a mouse, and I don’t miss anything. My dad has been a big believer in hunkering down in his “office” to watch and wager. If he gets dusted early, he shuts down the screen and sits back to catch a football game or a movie. If he wins, at the end of the day he hits the “withdraw” button and his money is sent to his checking account. Sounds too easy doesn’t it?
But on the flipside, I used to watch horses workout on the track before the race. The computer does a good job of following the jog, but it’s not the same. I used to go to the paddock and take a look at the runners. Now I’m glued to the screen and still miss many facets of the pre-race. I do miss seeing old friends, and doing some chatting with longtime players. There is nothing in the world like the melting pot of the track. Something changes when you pull into the lot and march into the building. You feel like it’s for real. When you lose, you can bet dollars to donuts you’ll see someone bitching, and others slapping their program against their leg. Have you ever seen someone scream for two minutes straight at a slot machine?
Long story short, I have become a “racing hermit” and enjoy being home. I do enjoy an occasional visit to the track in the winter, and when I go to the races I feel more prepared. It takes a very disciplined gambler to play from home. You could find yourself “tap dancing” and making an off the wall wager just to have action. I liken it to putting candy at the checkout line in the grocery store. Sometimes you can just hear it calling your name. I don’t go to the track very often, but when I do I am more prepared than when I bet from home. With that in mind, I am making a trek to the track this Saturday. So check back as I will put out some weekend selections, and Winning Ponies is going to cut loose with some free E-Z Win picks. With all of that ammo in hand, the only decision you will have to make is are you going to be a hermit, or head out to the track…