Sunday, September 25, 2011


Somehow I have an email subscription to Monmouth Park's weekly news and promotions. Regardless, I do take a few moments to peruse over the upcoming weekend's happenings, and there's always some sort of shtick going on - barbecues, beach parties, hurricanes, and so forth. Monmouth Park's promotions always look hip and inviting; the place to be on a Saturday afternoon. I know that I'd go if only I didn't live 1,384 miles away.

But closer to home, Lone Star Park is perfectly capable of assembling its own set of unique and wondrous promotions. And Friday night was the pinnacle of shtick: ostrich and camel races.

Yes, you read that correctly. Jockeys raced ostriches and camels down the main track. And as crazy as this whole event sounds, it brought out swarms of people, crowding five deep along the rail as if they were jamming the stage at a Bruce Springsteen concert, holding their iPhones, Smartphones, camcorders, super 8's, firstborns aloft, all to secure footage of the big "event".

The Ostrich Derby:

The Camel Derby:

(Thanks to the well-positioned lizbethbeadles who promptly shared her videos. For her generosity, she'll receive a free copy of Lone Star Today and a dictionary).

I don't have the statistic so I'm unsure as to whether this rather unusual "promotion" - all for charitable causes, by the way - increased attendance and handle significantly, but I can ascertain that the $1 beer sales were robust.

As fun as it was, this whole ostrich/camel shtick and the circus-like atmosphere got me to thinking, "What does the horse racing purists think about all this stuff?" It's not as though I saw Gary West wedged along the rail, or anything like that. Do they just roll their eyes, exasperated? Why can't horse racing just be horse racing? Why do we need casinos and/or exotic fowl to attract people to the racetrack?

Spending an evening at the races can be fun. But throw in a little shtick - ostriches, camels, dancing guinea pigs - and it can be really fun!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Spectral Analysis

For those of you who think that I misplaced my keyboard under a pile of laundry, I would like to inform you that you are incorrect. I have been doing lots of writing over the past few weeks, however it is neither entertaining nor amusing. But I get to use some big fancy words, like fluorochrome and spectral overlap, both of which, by the way, would be good names for a racehorse.

Actually, my 9-year-old daughter has written more about horse racing over the past couple of months that I have!

    Once upon a time there was a girl named Alice. She was sweet and kind. She always wanted to ride a horse. So I asked a person that was riding a horse and asked if I can have his horse. But then he said,”No, this is not a play horse!”So I just walked away. When I got home, I pretended to be a horse. Then I wrote a poem about a horse that goes like this;
      I love horses yes I do,
      I hope you do too.

    -by Alice (guest blogger)

I did, however, squeeze in a trip to the racetrack once or twice, most recently last Sunday to enjoy the Woodbine Mile. Turallure (which is also a good name for a fluorochrome) caught Courageous Cat just at the wire, giving me a winning exacta ... or so I thought. It turned out that this so-called great scientific mind didn't box the exacta. There's a scientific word for mistakes like that: Damn!

Meanwhile, Lone Star Park has kicked off its 2011 Fall Meeting of Champions for American Quarter Horses and Ostriches. Renovation continues at the simulcast facility, Post Time Pavilion, so simulcast operations and smoking privileges are temporarily located to the first floor of the grandstand, making milling around during races somewhat trying. However, tomorrow night there is a full spectrum of events: $1 beer specials, Dash for Cash Derby Trials, and camel and ostrich races for charities. Makes me think of another big word that I've been writing lately: excitation.