Weekly Whack: Win, Place, or Show
Win, Place, or Show
January 19, 1997

It was a goal of mine to try and experience some culture while I was home during my long break from school. Although I was forced to work nearly everyday, I did actually find time to meet this goal. However I didn't find my culture in an opera house or at a museum, but across the street from the final resting place of Jimmy Hoffa, Giants Stadium, at "The Big M", Meadowlands Racetrack. It is not exactly a night at the Met, but it is still a definite form of culture, in it's own unique way. I think if you want to consider yourself a worldly person, you must have spent at least one night at the racetrack, and absorbed all that it has to emit. I already have done this, so I'm well on my way to becoming a world class renaissance man. So I will devote this Whack to sharing some of my experiences and telling some of my stories of my night at the racetrack.

One of the best parts about going to the Meadowlands Racetrack is that on the way there you get to see one of the most beautiful sights in the tri-state area. You see, when you're going east on Route 3 towards the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, there is a point right as get to a top of a hill, shortly after you pass a sign for Nutley, when the Manhattan skyline first appears straight ahead on the horizon. It just hits you right between the eyes. Especially at night, when everything is lit up, it's just fantastic. But enough about that, let's get into crooked high-stakes gambling.

Going to the racetrack is relatively inexpensive. Parking is free, and admission is only a dollar. Besides that, all other expenses are optional. However, if you plan on doing any betting, you usually have to shell out two dollars for a program and a quarter for a pencil. The program pretty much gives you all the information on the races and the horses. It's good to have the program so you can convince yourself that you are betting on a particular horse because of its stats, not because of its neat name. Also the program has a lot of other neat features, like a brief guide on wagering for beginners entitled, "Risking This Month's Mortgage Payment for Dummies." But it seems like all the advertisements in the program are for either tobacco and alcohol companies or other forms of gambling such as the lottery and casinos. Like if you have any money left after betting on the ponies, they expect you to buy a lottery ticket and play a hand of blackjack. Anyhoo, moving on, the pencil you get for your quarter is somewhat odd. The closest thing it can be compared to is those golf pencils. You know, those small pencils you get to keep score when you play golf or miniature golf. They're disposable pencils. You use them once to write down a bunch of numbers, and then you throw them out. It's a waste. I think if I died tomorrow and my punishment for psychology abusing cats was to be reincarnated as an environmentalist, I would take up the whole golf pencil issue. I mean these golf people destroy acres and acres of land to make golf courses, the least they can do is try and save some trees by reusing their pencils. Or how bout a pencil sharpener? We have engineers that can design such marvels as the helmet-cam and the space pen, so I think they could make a pencil sharpener for golf pencils. But anyway, what makes the pencil you get at the racetrack different from your normal run of the mill golf pencil, is that it has an eraser. That really blew me away. I never saw anything like it. But it did discourage me when I realized that this place can't really be giving out too much money if they can afford to put erasers on their golf pencils.

Now that you got your program and your pencil, you're now ready to bet. I can't really give you any hints on how to pick horses, because personally I think the whole thing is fixed. You just got to be lucky and pick the same horse that the mob decided to have win that particular race. And I'm serious about this. If you watch a race, and see the horses coming down the stretch, you'll see one jockey whipping the hell out of his horse as the horse sprints ahead, while another jockey is just sitting back and letting his horse just trot along like he is strolling in the park on a Sunday. And if you put money on the latter, you're gonna be pretty pissed. In fact, one of the best parts of going to the track is cursing at the jockeys as they ride by after you lose money on them. It's a real catharsis. I did that for a couple races until I realized that since it was harness racing, and not thoroughbreds, many of the jockeys were bigger than me. I found this out because they list the weights of the jockeys in the program, which is the main reason why there aren't so many female jockeys. But anyway, whether horse racing is fixed or not, it is still fun to bet on it. You just can't get let yourself get carried away. The only trouble I ever ran into while betting was that some of the tellers who took the bets were women, and they always made me feel guilty by giving me a disapproving look that just said, "What is someone your age doing wasting your money at a dive like this?" The male tellers didn't really have that same effect, they just took my money and laughed. But I guess the racetrack is sort of a dive. The people there are kind of weird. And personally, I think the biggest turn-off is girls who smoke cigars. I wouldn't want to go there on a frequent basis, but it fun to go and experience it at least once. And for my first time there, I didn't do too bad for myself. I ended up being up five bucks after the last race. Unfortunately I ended up losing it all at a Wendy's on the way home.

Well I think it is time to bring this Whack down the stretch, so to conclude for this week, you don't want an angry jockey coming after you; Vito the Fish in Hoboken decides whether or not you're going to win your exacta; and golf pencils are destroying the Earth.

Now for this week's very special feature, Feff's top ten favorite horses that he saw race:

10. JFK
9. Raleigh Fingers
8. Disbuds For Me
7. Teflon Don
6. Road Kill Cafe
5. Laagarithm
4. Bye Bye Schatzi
3. Pizzazz Mindale
2. Kindergarten Cop
1. Celine Dion