A Day at the Races with No Horses

Editor’s note: This is part of our ongoing series on Laughter Is Often the Best Medicine. The contributors to this series hope their vignettes provide a chuckle, an "aha moment," or dispel myths about visual impairment for all readers.

Two retired older women sitting at a table laughing

Enjoying Horse Races Since Childhood

Whenever I think of the Kentucky Derby, I am reminded of those wonderful summer afternoons when my mother took me to River Downs near Cincinnati. Certainly, I was too young to bet, but my mother and I would each choose a horse, mostly based on their names or how they pranced as they paraded by before the race, and then we’d each put a nickel on the top of the fence. Whoever’s horse won was the winner of five cents. It wasn’t winning nickels that intrigued me; it was being able to see those beautiful and powerful horses trot past. That was my favorite part of going to the race track. Back then, I had enough vision to see them up close, and when it came time for the race itself, we stayed down by the fence, so I could hear the pounding of their hooves as they took off from the start or thundered by us on the longer races. It was thrilling and obviously made quite an impression on me.

Recapturing Those Childhood Memories

About 11 years ago, my friend Kathy and I joined a group of red-hatted ladies at the race track here in Columbus. It was on Derby Day, so we had mint juleps. Recalling how much I had enjoyed standing by the fence and watching the horses parade by, I suggested to Kathy that for the next race, after we placed our bets, we should leave the clubhouse dining room and go stand by the fence. I wouldn’t be able to see the horses now, but I would love to hear them gallop.

We’re Off to the Races, Figuratively

After we put our $2 on a horse to place, we walked outside and waited by the fence. Nothing was happening. No parading horses. No other people outside. Then the announcer cried, "And they’re off!" What? But where? It was then that we realized we had just placed a bet on a horse that was racing in some other part of the country, and everybody else was watching it on those TV monitors inside. There we were, a couple of clueless, middle-aged ladies in red hats sipping mint juleps standing by ourselves waiting for something to happen. Who knew? Not us.

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Laughter Is Often the Best Medicine: A Series of Vignettes About Life’s Funny Moments