Off to the races (until Aug. 15)

August 7, 2009

If you’ve been reading the Twitter posts (to the right), you may have noticed that last weekend we took our first outing to Fairmont Park Racetrack over in Collinsville. I was leery, in part because of the 7:30 p.m. start (though we arrived quite a bit earlier, around 6:15 p.m., to ensure we snagged one of the picnic tables so the kids would have somewhere to set their snacks and drinks). I also wasn’t sure the kids would get into it. There are long breaks between the races, which themselves only last a minute or two.

M. and friends before the first race

M. and friends before the first race

Needless worry, all of it. The boys thoroughly enjoyed themselves before, during and between the races. It helped that another in-the-know family had brought trucks and buckets for the kids to play in a little sandpile near the fence. And the horses pass by often enough before and after the races that there is often something to see. Kids 12 and under got in free, so there were lots of little ones of all ages (not really many teens, though). No one under 18 can wager on the races, but the booklet with all the stats is a perfect math teaching tool, so we let the kids pore over it to select a pick ($2 to win) each. S. was uninterested; M. figured it out pretty quickly with help from his 9-year-old friend. He also overheard someone explaining the various bets to me, and after that, simply choosing a horse to win lost a little of its appeal. So we had the more advanced math lesson of mutuel betting, and why a $2 to win bet pays out more than a $2 to place bet on a horse that wins the race. Ay, ay, ay! Taxed my abilities to the fullest, let me tell you!

We did stay out too late, until around 9:30 p.m., and there were still several races left to be run. But the kids were heady with the thrill of having won a few dollars and behaved really well, all things considered.

The race season ends next Saturday (Aug. 15), so you still have five opportunities to go: Tuesday afternoon (Aug. 11) and Friday and Saturday evenings (Aug. 7-8 and 14-15).  Check out the homepage for details, and note that kids under 21 are not allowed in the Friday night Party at the Park.  It’s a bit of a hassle that food is sold only inside, so it’s best to have a minimum of two adults (one to stay at the table, the other to buy food, place bets, take kids to the bathroom, etc.). But at $2.50 gate admission for those over 12, it’s a pretty cheap evening out even for a group of adults.

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