Sunday, July 06, 2008
We drove down to Ridgway for the races yesterday, and had time to eat lunch at Kate's, a cafe that we'd heard about. We got a nice table outside with an umbrella, and just as I took the first bite of the reuben sandwich, crash, bang, the thunderstorm started. It still seemed fine, if a little scary, until the water started rushing off the umbrella and down the back of my shirt. We ate fast. I always feel a little more confident with rubber soles, but can go into mega thunderstorm panic also.
When we got to the track it was so empty, and there were huge gushing rivulets in the track itself. The grandstand consists of planks of wood on a dirt bank. It cost $139 to build in 1898 and might cost about that now.
It took forever for the races to get underway. Finally the cute cowgirl galloped around with her flag while someone sang the National Anthem.
Then we got a look at the horses in the first race: two year olds. A Navajo guy joined his buds behind us and gave them the inside scoop that the number two horse was the one to pick in this race. Since our friend Tom had said put $5 on the number two horse in the first race, I figured it was a sure thing. You can only bet to win in these races-- 2nd and third means nothing.
So the horses come parading by so we can choose our horse-- only four in the race, but one horse, Mariposa, has no rider.
Hey, who needs jockeys?
She's running wildly around the track, and none of the rodeo cowboys (who sponsor the event) can catch her. Back and forth she goes, and the other three horses are spooking.
Finally the cowboys wrangle her. This horse has been running for five minutes!
They manage to load them in the gate after awhile, and guess what, this horse wins!
In horse racing this is totally nuts-- any horse who blows its wad before entering the gate is sure to be the last one across the finish line-- but not this nutso filly. Loved it. Mariposa, my pretty little filly... Oh and she bucked off her jockey after they crossed the finish line too.
We stayed for two more races and I picked the winners both times, yay me, based on looking at the horse rather than leaning backwards and listening to Navajo tips.
While waiting to claim earnings at the back window, various women standing with me, who'd picked winners, said they always pick based on the name. "I'm from the South, so I picked Rebel." I met someone who only bets on horses with food names. What the heck, it's all a horse race. At a funky race like this, I look for jockeys, conformation (horse bod), and emotional state of horse as it goes by. Since Mariposa went by jockey-less, it was harder to choose her!