Giving Thanks at the Racetrack

My immediate family lives 700+ miles away. I always go to family for Christmas but never for Thanksgiving. I used to go to a friend’s house until she moved out of the area. I was on my own for a couple of years until Caren invited me to spend Thanksgiving with her family at Laurel Park Racetrack. I’ve been doing that for many years now. Sometimes her mother and son joined us but now it’s just the three of us.


Caren and Paul

Most people think going to the races for Thanksgiving is weird. We get free coffee or apple cider and a donut in the morning, a nice buffet dinner at noon, a fun day of racing and go home with a free pie. What’s not to like about that?

In past years, we got a ticket for a free pie from the Maryland Jockey Club with our paid admission to the track. Last year, they did away with the free pie because it was too expensive. Paul thought it was because people would come in with a bunch of kids and go home with a stack of pies. This year, they brought back the free pie but you had to buy a racing program to get it. Who’s going to buy a program for a kid? Another change this year was free admission to the racetrack and no coupon needed for the coffee/cider and donut.

Today the temperature outside was around 60 degrees and sunny, great conditions for racing. Inside, it wasn’t too warm and wasn’t too cold. We didn’t get good table service for drinks but we never do. Our server always seems to disappear and never comes by when we want to order something.

Caren and I were unusually lucky today, cashing a lot more tickets than we normally do. Poor Paul only cashed one ticket all day. That’s unusual for him so he was a little unhappy.

If I counted correctly, I actually made money today! It’s been a very long time since I made money at the track. The day started with me cashing winning tickets for the first 3 races. Wow! I decided I better get some lottery tickets in case my winning streak extended to that. From then on, I won some races and lost some races.

There is always at least one race where I forget to check my betting slips before I leave the teller window. Once you leave, that’s it. When I forget to check is always when the teller makes a mistake. Never fails. Ever. Usually, it would have been a winning ticket for me if the teller hadn’t messed it up. This time, the teller gave me two bets on the same horse, instead of the two horses I selected. Well, luckily, the horse ended in the money so her mistake worked in my favor for a change. And, that horse had higher odds so the payment was pretty good. By pretty good, instead of $3.60 or so, it was $20+. We’re not talking big money here.

We can’t really see much of the race from the clubhouse tables so we watch on the monitor that is at each table.


Our normal view of the race. This is the one where I had the double ticket on #8. Although she’s leading at this point, she finished in second place.

We could see the finish line from our table.


This isn’t the finish line but it’s close. They either just finished or are just about to finish. This is another one when my horse, #13 ended in the money and paid a nice amount.

In previous years, they’ve only run nine races and usually they had a small field. Last year several races only had five horses. This year there were ten races and some races had over 10 horses.

Good food and good company made for a great day.


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