Friday, April 13, 2007

There's Change At Lone Star Park This Season

Last night was the highly anticipated opening of Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie Spring Thoroughbred Meet. And unlike the highly anticipated opening of the Keeneland Spring Meet, nobody froze their bottoms off. It was a great evening (75 degrees) with a good crowd (9,309) and a respectable handle ($662,506). I ran into the Usual Suspects at the rail; it resembled a family reunion.

There were only a couple of notable disappointments. The first race of the meet is the $50,000 Premiere Stakes. There were only six entries and of those, probably only three were even remotely qualified to be racing in a stakes race. Needless to say, every horseplayer on the planet - living and dead - could handicap this race. Thus the payoffs were paltry and my thoughts wandered over to more important matters, such as "Who the heck is the Stakes Coordinator? And where is the Beer Man?"

All the other races on the card consisted of full fields which make for great wagering. But it seemed to me that the Premiere Stakes should have had about 10 betting interests. According to Dick Kinsey, who was at one time the Stakes Coordinator for Tampa Bay, it's the coordinator's job to go to other tracks and hustle some horses to race in stakes races. Although he admitted it is not as easy as it sounds. "$50,000 is not a lot for a purse [even for Texas-breds]. And if there is one really good horse that appears unbeatable entered in the race, other trainers will not race their horses against him because they're not interested in running for second or third."

So, is Sandburr really that formidable?

I was also somewhat irritated that the cost of the racing program went from $2.50 to $2.75. I've got one word for that: advertising. Okay, I realize that it's only a quarter increase, but instead of passing on the additional cost to patrons, why not put in a couple more ads? At least when I received 50 cents in change when I purchased programs in previous years, I could do something important, like buy a pen or play the 50-cent Pick Four. Now, I have this bothersome leftover quarter.

What can I do with 25 cents at the track?

Well, I'll tell you what I can do with 25 cents at the track. As it turns out, when Beer Man came by to visit me after the second race, I discovered that beer has gone up from $4.75 to $5.25. So when I used to buy from Beer Man, I would just hand him $5 and not worry about change. Now, I can hand him my $5 and fish out that leftover quarter from my program purchase and Beer Man loses his tip. This is the phenomenon that we refer to as Fiscal Transference. Now many of you are probably asking, "Why don't you just give him $6?" Just think, if I'm a cheap bettor, blowing a whopping $2.40 on dime superfectas, do you honestly believe I'm going to give Beer Man a 15% tip for reaching into a cooler and handing me a Miller Lite? Maybe when I'm winning or when it's 100 degrees, neither of which occurred last night. So now you are thinking, "Okay, Mrs. Cheapskate, why don't you just give him $6 and take back 50 cents in change?" And what do I do with all this extra change? It's not like I can stuff it into an AmTote machine or anything like that.

Anyway, regardless of the fact that I feel obliged to bring a roll of quarters to the track, I'm thrilled that live racing is back. And finally, remember,
Not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer. [Dave Barry]

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