While unwinding with the Oregon family, we briefly mentioned this blog and how Wednesday night would make an interesting addition.
"I don't know how," my father-in-law said, "you're going to tell people about horse racing in Prineville, Oregon."
Well, here goes.
The 2006 IronHorse Races (named because of sponsorship, not because of any trait the horses shared) are being held at the Crook County Fairgrounds in Prineville. They're a once-a-year deal there, a four-night card with horses from around the Northwest.
Wednesday night was the first night of racing, and happened to be sponsored by Robberson Ford, a dealer with locations in Prineville and Bend, 40 minutes away and the place where my in-laws reside. This is important because my wife's grandfather, Gordon Robberson, was the dealership's owner until his death last fall. Now her uncle, Jeff Robberson, runs the dealership. (I asked Jeff about the chance of buying a sweet Ford GT40 and how much it would cost. "Well, about $170,000," he replied. "Any chance I could get it for, oh, $25,000?" I asked. "I'll give it to you for 169. Nine. Ninety," he said.)
So it is with this backdrop I found myself laying money on horses I'd never heard of from places I'd never heard of.
The track was dirt and framed by a mountain range in the background. The place was pure country - meant in a good way - as cowboy hats far outnumbered NASCAR hats. There was no permanent camera installed for photo finishes; instead, a older man shot the winning horse as it crossed the finish line.
Pimlico, it wasn't.
But my recent poor performance of betting on horses - whether in Charles Town, W.Va. or Dover, Del. or Prineville, Ore. - continued. After betting wins and places for the first two races, I went bigger for the fourth race, the Gordy Robberson Memorial. I had a trifecta box for the 1, 2, and 5 horses - Zee Chalupa, Flying Cisvo and Meadow Slew.
Of course, the No. 3, Tayo's Tiger, went and screwed everything up, taking second.
My money bleeding continued through the fifth race and seemed destined for the sixth, as well. Gamely, I made a final trip to the betting window for a last chance at a trifecta. For some reason, I told the woman the wrong amount; the computer wouldn't allow her to put in a $1 trifecta (I meant $1 on each horse for a $3 total bet). She asked a colleague for help, and the colleague boxed the trifecta - precisely what I didn't want.
My wife insisted I buy another ticket with the trifecta only, so I did.
I ate my words as the screw-up paid off. The box worked to perfection, and allowed me to recoup $19. Had the first and second horses finished in the reverse order, I would have hit the trifecta ticket too, for the princely sum of $57.
An interesting night all around. A week ago, I didn't think I'd be betting on horses in Prineville, but I suppose there's a first time for everything.
Explained well enough for you?