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At the track

Updated on February 21, 2012

Opening weekend at Saratoga

This past June my wife and I stole away for a few days at Saratoga Springs, New York. for the season opening of the racetrack. Despite the sweltering heat, we found the city to be friendly and fun. Keeping out of the sun as much as possible we visited the Car Museum, where we examined vintage Masarattis, Karmin Gheas, and Alpha Romeos in an Italian sports car exhibit. At the Dance Museum we watched teen-aged aspiring ballerinas rehearse for a performance. On Friday and Saturday evenings we listened to bands scattered down the main drag playing Irish ballads, Cowboy and Western, 60s and 70s, and hard rock. The peak experience was, of course, the racxetrack. Saratoga Racetrack openings are the social event of the year. Women adorn themselves in exhoritantly priced fancy straw hats emulating Kentucky Derby runnings. Prizes are awarded. It is hard to find an store open downtown by race time.

Two not-too- big betters

Neither Joyce nor I are knowledgeable race enthusiasts but few people are. We bet the horse's name. When our waiter at breakfast indicated that he was going to the track that day I asked if he had a favorite pick.

"Yes," he replied, "Hysterical Cat in the third race."

The name had particular meaninmg to me. When Bella, one of my grandchildren, was three, she blamed every misdeed on Bad Cat, a fantasy creation of hers, who needed to be locked in his room as punishment. That summer, when we were staying at a magnificent Hilton in Rome, I noticed a life-sized statue of a black jaguar on the front lawn. I snapped several pictures with my digital and showed them to Bella when we arrived.home.

"Look" I explained, "Bad Cat followed us to Italy".

"So, perhaps I'll bet that horse in the third," I told Joyce.

Prior to post time Hysterical Cat"was a 30:1 pick. "I'm not betting a long shot like that," I told Joyce. Freudian Delight was also running in the third with more reasonable odds. I plunked my five bucks down on the psychoanalytic namesake to win. After all, I am a psychologist. Hysterical Cat went off at 15:1.

The race wasn't even close. Hysterical Cat came in first. Freud brought up the rear.

"Why didn't I listen to the waiter?" I remonstrated to Joyce. "He must have known something."

"I didn't want to tell you," she replied. I bet Hysterical Cat to win"

"That's great. How much did you bet?"

"Two dollars. It was all the money I had."

The nag payed $34.80.


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