Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Saturday, May 06, 2006

I suppose the vices we pursue are the vices we love best, but it is still fun, every now and then, to chip a little with a different vice. Still, I'm glad that my vices are more glamorous than gambling. Do you think that any of the people who want to see a casino in Buffalo have ever been in an OTB? My word, what a sorry assemblage of humanity congregates there! You'd figure that Derby Day is like the day after Thanksgiving at Fortunoff's in OTB land-- all the regulars are there, and all the amateurs as well. That's not how it looks, though. It looks like a cross between an unemployment office and the smokers lounge at a VA hospital. There is nothing even remotely glamorous about the OTB. Even a couple of guys in battered straw hats would spruce the place up. I don't know that I have ever been in a bar as divey as even a reasonably nice OTB-- I don't think a bar could be that divey, or an opium den, either. OTB is a step above crackhouse on the glamour scale-- barely.

Interestingly, it was not a stag crowd. The clerks are frequently women, of course, and a less maternal group you will never see, although I suppose it is possible that they are somebody's mothers. There was also a sprinkling of what I took to be wives or girlfriends, a talkative lot, who didn't seem to be talking about the ponys. The serious OTB patrons don't talk much at all, or when they talk they talk exclusively about who they like in the next race--and maybe sometimes why. Mostly they just sit at the tables and scribble bets, or stand on line to place bets, or stand under the television sets watching the horses they have bet on. They mostly watch silently-- there is very little joy in their spectating, from what I can tell. When a race is over, they turn away, and start studying for the next one.

Of course, I must have looked peculiar to the denizens of the Delaware Avenue OTB, togged out in tights, windbreaker and helmet. Bicycles are not unknown to this crowd, but usually a bike is a mode of transportation resorted to because a judge took your car keys. These guys didn't think I looked like Lance Armstrong: they may have thought I was Spiderman. "I see you're wearing your helmet," the punter who was sitting at the table I sat down at said in his rheummy voice. "Well, sure," I said. "You gotta protect your head." He nodded in agreement, then returned to his scratch sheet.

As I surveyed the field I became increasingly convinced that Andy's read is correct. Barbaro looks like the class of the field. WJA had called yesterday with instructions to play him across the board, no doubt getting the little tingle that comes from using an electronic device to place a wager over state lines. I put Barbaro in my boxed exacta with Point Determined and Bob And John filling out my ticket, then went with him one more time, on the nose. Captain X touted me away from Sinister Minister-- I may be back for him if he goes to Baltimore, but in this field I think he'll flame out down the stretch.

UPDATE: Barbaro paid $13.40 $7.60 $5.70. Thanks Andy!

UPDATE II: Adam Hofstetter nails the OTB experience in this Sports Illustrated piece. "Whoever said horse racing is the sport of kings has obviously never been to an OTB. Not a lot of royalty hanging out at the OTB on a regular basis. Unless, of course, one of those old drunk guys happens to be the Duke of Windsor. "I say, my good man, would you kindly fetch me my walking stick? I must make haste back to the manor before afternoon tea, as the Duchess will be most displeased with my losses this fine day." I hear that the good Duke prefers the George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal location."

| Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?