Horsing Around Involves More Than Watching Horse Racing In L.A.
There’s a microbrew festival at Santa Anita Racetrack in Los Angeles this weekend – specifically, Saturday, Jan. 26 – and the mere thought of this brings back some side-splitting memories.
It was a few years ago that I was first introduced to what was previously the strange sport of horse racing. And, as I quickly learned, it’s more of an activity than a sport. At least for the spectators.
A friend who used to work at Santa Anita – a legendary track in L.A., about 10 miles from the Rose Bowl – set us up with tickets and tables at the Frontrunner restaurant. In return, it was my duty to fill up a limo with friends and make it a party. That was as easy as ordering a beer.
By the end of the day, we all had LOTS of beer, because there happened to be a microbrew festival in the infield and a normal party day turned into one of those days that you remember forever!
On the appointed day, we all piled in the limo and off we went, not sure of what we were getting into, but when you’ve got a good group of people and a limo or party bus to take you there, it’s often the journey that’s the fun and not so much the destination. But the destination turned out to be awesome.
A dozen of us from the South Bay Beach Cities of Hermosa and Manhattan Beach rolled up to the entrance on a typically sunny LA day. We were immediately greeted by a serenade from the trumpet player, the guy who does the “dun, dun, de, dun, dun, de, dun, dun, de, dun” start that we’ve all heard to start the Kentucky Derby. Turns out Chris has set this up as a welcoming surprise. It made us feel like VIPs!
Knowing nothing about gambling, I followed the bets of the luckiest friend I knew, the always smiling Joe Anderson. My plan failed miserably and I abandoned it after two races to pursue my own failed strategy. The very next race Joe hit a super-rare trifecta and won more than $1,000!
Besides myself and our leader Chris, in our group was my close friend Kellyann, a guy whose nickname was Snake (I never bothered to ask how he acquired the nickname), the fairly conservative Dan who had just moved from the East Coast and his girlfriend who is now his wife, a wild child named Mike, the always-entertaining South Bay Jane, “Captain Tony” Lopes and the girl who looked as good as anyone in the history of the South Bay beaches in a bikini, Hot Body Connie.
I had a girlfriend at the time, so could make no move on “HBC,” so she, Tony and Joe, Mike and Snake left the Frontrunner to check out the infield.
They were gone for quite a while but we were having such a great time, we hardly noticed. I quickly discovered that making bets really added an interesting intrigue to being at a sporting event. It was like being in Vegas, except you were right there, seeing the action through live eyes. It’s something about the sport that intrigues me to this day.
Plus, access to beer and cocktails was as abundant as the betting booths.
Some time later, as the bets and beers piled up. in rolled the infield gang. And they were BOMBED! They came staggering into the Frontunner, laughing and telling stories all at the same time in a slurred speech, then stopping short of the finish line of those stories to roll over laughing at each other.
The leader of the pack was Hot Body Connie, who was so hammered none of us could understand a word she said. When I inquired as to what caused this transformation over the past couple of hours, Joe said quite simply, “there’s a beer festival in the infield!”
And THAT is why you should go to the microbrew festival at Santa Anita.
In a limo, of course.