Each day, we see many faces during the course of a day at the races. Some you will see everyday in the same places, and some are those you work with. There are the occasional visitors that walk in every so often, and they either become a face or drift into the distance.
Many I have known for years. We started out as passing in the silence; to knowing all about each others families. That is the way at the oval. There are many that love the game, and there are even more that do not know there is a little fraternity of sorts that gathers each day. They root, cheer, and commiserate. That is a day at the races.
I like the group of guys who make it out hell or high water. A few of them are past bookies, and one of them still is. They talk about who they like, and complain about losing with a smile. It is their place, and you can throw a dart and hit them every day in the dark. They will be there until you suddenly see none of them there, one day. The next day, you will see all but one sitting in their corner or area. Only the people closest will know one is gone. They keep a tradition going because that is what they do. I have seen casinos, contests, and everything in between. But there is nothing like the friends you meet at the track. They will be there until the end.
As you walk in, many have made the track their job. They have greeted you over the years and you have seen them grow old, get fat, retire, and disappear. They too have played their role. They have served you well, and have appreciated you more than you know. It was the group of ladies that come out each weekend, or the gents who come out for the dollar beers, or even the children that accompany their parents to watch the ponies. They have watched right back at the people who come and go. Oh, the stories they could tell…. The tips that a valet fella made one night, or how a patron split a winning ticket with a seller that paid over $10,000. I have never seen a place where two different groups of people converge for similar reasons.
If you haven’t been out for a day at the races, make it a point to do so. If you have been going for years, then take another friend who has never been. You will never see another crowd like this one. Old, young, and in-between, sharing the day and the game that they love. The pageantry of the horses has always been spectacular, but the faces in the crowd have always fascinated me.