A day at the drunken races

We like to take the girls to the local thoroughbred track a few times over the course of the racing season. Monmouth Park (The Shore’s Greatest Stretch) is actually a pretty big deal in the racing community. The Breeder’s Cup is held there on a regular basis.

Horse people are an economically diverse bunch. They’re either hat people or track people. The hat people own horses. The well-heeled wives wear wide-brimmed hats, smile big toothy grins, and greet one another with air kisses. Some [actually, many] are cosmetically enhanced. The husbands wear pastel jackets and pinky rings. They seem to be a happy bunch. They sit in the clubhouse. We don’t ever sit in the clubhouse, so the only time we ever see hat people, is when they come down from their lofty perch to have their photos taken in the winner’s circle with the jockey and the horse.

We’ll usually sit outside with the track people. Track people are grinders. They are there to make money. So are the owners, of course, but the track people seem to need it a hell of a lot more than the hat people.


There’s a thread that runs through track people that ties them all together. There is a common element. Aside from horses and $2 bets, they have an affinity for the drink.


(This one was a loser. They all were.)


Some of them drink beer for breakfast. I don’t think this guy is kidding.


That’s his son playing in the dirt. I’ll bet he’d like some attention from dear old dad. I wouldn’t say I was anti-alcohol but, like organized religion, it should be used in moderation. Too much of either is a bad thing.

This is the tattoo du jour. She had the footprints of her newborn tattooed onto her leg. I’ve never seen that before, so she get a point for originality. Seriously. Do you know how difficult it is to do something totally original?


* * *
Mrs. Wife was out last night and I put The Daughters to bed. About :30 minutes after tucking her in, 3-Year Old got up and said her chin hurt. (?!?!) It was a ruse, of course, so I took her back to her room, sat down in the rocking chair, she curled up in my lap and I rocked her for a while.

She’ll be four in about three weeks and I realized that that was probably the last time I’ll ever rock her to sleep. She usually goes to bed without a problem and if something is wrong, she’ll call Mrs. Wife. So that was it. I’ll never rock her to sleep again. I haven’t rocked 8-Year Old to sleep for years and years. I can’t remember that last time I did. It just slipped away without my noticing. Nothing last forever. Not the good stuff and, thankfully, not the bad stuff either.

30 thoughts on “A day at the drunken races

  1. if you’re a drinker, the clock is meaningless. i’ve seen people swilling booze in airport bars at 9AM. for what it’s worth? i’ll never forget how it felt to rock my children. breastfeeding, too, although i suspect you didn’t get to do much of that.very specific moments, and more generic times. that’d be about 20 years ago for the oldest…

  2. I never was one for the horses, though we often had strays in our garden as children! I kid you not.(“My chin hurts”, I love it!)Your last two sentences say it all. :¬)

  3. Nothing last forever. Not the good stuff and, thankfully, not the bad stuff either.i think i’ll just hang on to this for a little while, sugar. xoxoxoxox

  4. what i’d said was:Nothing last forever. Not the good stuff and, thankfully, not the bad stuff either.i think i’ll hold on to this for a while, sugar. xoxo

  5. What a delightful bunch of people!Oh, forgot to mention. I’m heading New York way in September ish. Could you think of some fun things for me to do/see while I’m over there. I’m planning to extent my (business) trip for a couple of days so I can get some of the sights in.

  6. Daisy: I’m glad I was aware enough to realize it was the last time. It made me appreciate it all the more.Savannah: It took me a long, LONG time to lean that lesson. I use it every day of my life. Very useful.Nutty: Woo hoo! Welcome to my house! September is one of the best months to be here. Lucky you.

  7. Scarlet: NO! My comments are fucked up! Some are vanishing and I think a few of my responses have disappeared as well. Curse you, Blogger Gremlin.Map: I’m not a big track fan, either, but it’s a fun day out. The girls bet on their favorite color silk.Leah: Thanks, dear. I always appreciate a kind word.

  8. That last paragraph – so very moving. I keep reading it over and over. One of the advantages of being an older dad is that you notice these things. You’re so much more aware.I love how you write about your love for NYC. And I love how you write about your love for your daughters.

  9. okay. you made me cry. i love you and i’m so glad you are the Father of our daughters. They are blessed to have you in their lives.

  10. Sonny: Comfort never goes out of style. Or beer. Lori: That’s a very astute observation. If I had had these kids when I was in my 20s, a lot would have gone by me unnoticed. Mrs. Wife: Does that mean I can hold the remote tonight?

  11. Don’t worry – i’ll rock my baby to sleep plenty in that beautiful rocker you will be gifting to me 🙂

  12. I used to go to the racetrack in Hot Springs when I lived in Little Rock. Sometimes we’d park in Bill Clinton’s aunt’s driveway. She lived right across the street from Oaklawn and one of the cousin’s was a friend of mine. That was the group I’d sit in bleachers with. I had another crew that belonged to the Jockey Club and so I’d be up there with the hat people. Have to admit, I liked both.

  13. kykn: Kids never care about that stuff. It’s hard to impress them unless you’re a celebrity.Map: Who knew THAT would happen! Women. I can figure them out. Can you?Nurse H: It will have a second life, that’s for certain.Nurse M: Ironically, she sat in my lap during a movie this evening. So perhaps you’re right.HIF: That’s where the REAL horse country is. They’re just pretending up here in NJ.

  14. You described the hat people and track people accurately. There are the two distinctions in just about everything. We call the people on our bike trails who wear fancy bike clothes and have expensive fancy bikes with all the gadgets “bikey people” and then there are the rest of us recreational bikers. Ha. We ride the trails in our everyday cutoff shorts and old tennies.

  15. You’re a great dad, UB, and the Mrs. knows that, your girls know that… and we are learning more and more that you are too. You’re also a great writer and I love coming here to read what’s happening in NYC and your world.Personally, I am not a track person… I am a horse person. I get a thrill just from watching the ponies tear down the track, feeling the ground vibrate from the thunder of their hooves…. I tend to pick my winners based on their looks and their attitudes as they walk the track before the race starts. Sometimes I even pick the ‘real’ winners! Too bad I don’t bet on them.

  16. she must have gotten it from one of the teenage mothers at midpark.. they always have tattoos of their kids hands or feet lolllps. you’re an awesome father. i love your stories.

  17. My first marital home was opposite the Derby Start in Epsom and you’re right racing folk always seem to have fun.You may find your daughters will still occasionally like to be rocked.I’m not ashamed to say that I still curl up on my husbands lap when in need of a bit of comfort.

  18. Just an FYI….both my girls still enjoy hugs from their dad, especially when they are having a rough day. It’s all in how you teach them at a young age; they also think it’s funny to try & sit on my lap. You are awesome keep doing what your doing it will all come back.

  19. TB: We have bikey people in NJ as well! They dress like superheros and drive side by side down busy streets, causing traffic back-ups. Apparently, riding single file is their kryptonite.MIT: We’re doing a good job so far. There’s plenty of time to blow it. But thanks for your kind words.Ponita: Thanks for the compliment. And I thought it was going to be just another boring Wednesday. You are a third category. You belong with the jockeys, trainers and track personnel.Nic: Guess what? My stories are all made up! None of them are true. The photos are faked! Just kidding.Pat: I thought something ended but perhaps not. I’ll keep you posted.Anon: I’m worried they won’t fit if they get much bigger! But I won’t discourage it.

  20. Those track people sure look like a motley crew. What a stark contrast to the owners. Loved your touching father/daughter story. You are the single most important person in your daughter’s lives. Trust me on that. Daddy they can love and trust = selecting husbands who will do the same for them.True, nothing lasts forever, except for that baby footprint tatoo perhaps.

  21. Great post. the pictures are hilarious and the story about your daughter is sweet. I guess having kids is full of moments like that, hu?

  22. “Not the good stuff and not the bad stuff either.”There’s something very good in that. My sister just turned seven and never turns down a tucking in or a few extra minutes with a parent, cousin, or older sibling sitting by her bed.

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