The Track

I can’t decide if I like the track better when it’s cloudy or sunny. We haven’t had much sun lately and I’ve gotten used to it, when it rains the horses fling mud everywhere and nobody goes outside to watch, they just huddle inside and watch the races on the TVs. There’s something nice and Dickensian about it. But when the sun is out, more people show up, they go outside and have a drink on the paddock and watch the horses up close, and people bring their kids and the kids eat that shit up. I hate children. Except at the track. The track makes me want to have children and bring them there every day and gamble away the money I would have spent to feed them. So I think the best days at the track happen when the sun is shining. Unfortunately, the season only lasts from Thanksgiving through late March, and sunny days are few and far between. That’s why I’ve decided to refrain from work on sunny days, except Tuesdays and Wednesdays, because the track is closed then.

I’ve been going to the Fair Grounds whenever I get a chance this year. I know that sounds like I’m some kind of compulsive gambler, but I only get a chance every couple weeks or so. Okay, I won’t lie, I wish I could go there more often.. hell, I wish I could go there every day. Actually I wish I could just have my paycheck direct deposited right into their coffers and skip the whole bit and start squatting in the abandoned house next door.

The track has a strange ambiance. The spartan grandstand building is all glass and concrete, such that every sound echoes and it feels empty and cold and weird. Aside from opening day and the rare stakes race, it is never crowded. The atmosphere is like a big old train station but with less hustle and bustle, at least until the bugle man signals post time and everyone goes to place their wagers. As the horses come down the stretch everyone starts yelling and screaming and then it gets quiet again for another thirty minutes. It’s very peaceful. That is, a very peaceful place to go and have a vicious internal dialogue about what compells you to throw your money at a bunch of stupid fucking equines.

Well, even if you’re a more straight laced fellow who doesn’t fancy life in the fast lane, the track is still great. Why? The food. I know, you’re thinking “Chris, you drunk ass washed up wannbe handicapper, you worship hot dogs and Popeyes, fuck you.” But seriously, the food at the track is criminally overlooked. Yeah, the generic stadium food they serve–hot dogs, pizza slices, nachos, burgers–sucks. However, some of the concession stands offer unique selections. The corned beef poboys are amazing, and something that you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else in New Orleans. The red beans and rice, as well as the white beans, are superb. They have a soup of the day that’s held in high regard by most regulars. They have an ice cream stand tucked away in the far corners of the grandstand, just incase it’s warm enough for that, which it isn’t. Everything is cheap except for the oysters, but they’re still well worth it. There’s just something magical about sitting on that paddock, watching the horses and eating oysters off a styrofoam tray. The wisest New Orleanian on chowhound.com picked the track’s oyster bar as the second best in the city (behind Casamento’s) and I don’t disagree with her.

My point? Well, football season is over (don’t fucking argue with me here, it’s over, okay?) and you’ve got about two months to enjoy the track before next year. Minus Mardi Gras, that’s about one month, so if you’ve got the time, why not? It’s the sport of kings. KINGS!

I just hope metroblogging can reimburse me for the $750 it cost me to “research” this article.

Just kidding, mom.

2 Comments so far

  1. Cade Roux (unregistered) on January 28th, 2007 @ 11:17 pm

    Gotta love it. They changed their recipe for the bread pudding a few years ago. They used to use the whole fruit cocktail, and even though I normally prefer mine fruitless, it was some of the best in the city.


  2. Jack Ware (unregistered) on January 29th, 2007 @ 9:21 am

    I hope you hold on to this Charles Bukowski thing you’ve got going on.



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