I forgot to mention that awhile back i was whisked away to the Philadelphia Racetrack. It was in no way, shape or form the debaucherous, trashy underbelly sort of place (thinking Atlantic City here) that i was expecting. It basically felt like a picnic paradise, with one wholesome familly after the other, surrounded by their mountains of foodstuffs for their ultimate barbeque, all seated around beautiful, retro picnic tables- the kind with the metal two-tone umbrellas pitched at that perfect angle just overhead. And, yeah, there just happened to be this racetrack and horses and what not. I realize i may have been witnessing an exception to the usual crowd- it being Memorial Day Weekend and all.
Anyway, the whole scene blew my mind. I'm still not really sure- but it seems that on the weekends, horse racing goes on all over the country, all day long. The races at this track happened every 30 minutes of so; and in between those, you could wander over to the "Simulcast" area (lots of tv's) and bet on another race happening some place far away. And they were all staggered perfectly- there was basically always a race occuring, and therefore, always something to bet on.
I'm not so interested in betting, so i soaked in the environment as much as possible, took a few photos, and entertained myself with the "data of past performances" in the little guidebook, which used great phrases to describe how the horses fared in previous races- "finished willingly," "off pace, retreated," "between foes, faded," "showed little," "pressed, bested rest," and the best of all: "failed to menace."
It's an interesting feeling- to be exposed to a thriving sport/subculture that has transfixed people for decades, consumed people's entire lives; yet i have spent my 26 years managing to avoid any contact with it whatsoever. The world is a vast place.