The pastel army continued unabated in their march across America on Saturday. The frat-tasticly ironic attire of bowties, highlighter shorts, and classy-collared flannel was omnipresent at the Belmont Stakes, where the Northeast corridor converged to revel in inebriated gambling. The 85,111 attendants existed in a half alcohol fog/half cigar-smoke haze without their main attraction. The melancholy tone which presided over the show took center stage when the gates were drawn without I’ll Have Another in stall 11. Instead of a coronation in athletic excellence, excitement would be derived from odds and winnings. It’s just a horse! But dammit did that horse hold this whole thing together.
The Long Island Railroad Can Charge Extra For Bowties.
Admittance onto the Belmont express was prohibited without a cooler, concealed alcohol or a sundress. Everybody was drunk and angry and smiling and ready to waste money. “Who do you like in the race?” competed with “How drunk are you?” for the title of “Most Ubiquitous Question Heard.” (The winner, in an upset: “What time is the real race?”)
A passenger on the train stated: “Why didn’t they just replace I’ll Have Another with another horse? Just slap the number and the jockey on him, call him I’ll Have Another, and let the fucker go. Shit, you could slap a jockey on any horse and call him Seabiscuit. I’d believe it.” I was inclined to agree with this passenger.
Nobody was killed while transferring from the Belmont express train to the actual racetrack. (See picture above) The process and path from train to track was horse-like in nature: Led by people along a beaten path, then separated by gates to three different lines, and then ushered into an area where masters (or police) double checked to make sure all was in proper order (train tickets/no open alcohol/wearing a bowtie). There were no oats waiting for us at the end of our walk, but we were able to shit wherever we pleased. (IT SURE SMELLED LIKE IT!)
The Girlfriend had no idea what to expect from the horse race. She dressed in what she assumed was proper attire FOR THE 134TH RUNNING OF THE BELMONT STAKES, while I dressed like it was a hot Saturday. She was convinced that I would be turned away by the fashion police at the entrance gate, but I assured her that only fashion crime being committed today was the sundress she was wearing. (SASSY!)
The initial feeling upon entering the concourse and racetrack is indifference. The slabs of paint are hoary, green and a relic of the 1960s. The grass and track, however, inspire awe for the caretaking abilities and envy for the horses that will run on the most perfectly groomed dirt I have ever seen.
I Travel To Party, Not to Talk Dirt
The outdoor party section of Belmont is impressive, sprawling and fucking expensive. People stood from hundreds of feet away, gazing through cigar smoke and ridiculous sunhats to simultaneously watch expansive television monitors of the afternoons’ races. There would be an initial cheer at the starting bell, followed by prolonged murmuring, followed by uneasy excitement, then exclamatory yelping, then unmistakable cheers of monetary gain, and finally hurried steps to outdoor cash-in booths for those lucky bettors. I happily lost some bets and became the mare to Budweiser’s stud pricing.
The beer prices for the outdoor section broke down as:
- $15 for a 24oz. Heineken Light.
- $15 for a 24oz. Tecate Light.
- $10 for a 16oz. Heineken Light.
- $10 for a 16oz. Budweiser.
- $10 for a 12oz Blue Point Toasted Lager.
Everybody purchased beer like it was a negligible expenditure, yet I was the only one drunk/brave enough to say “That is a lot of fucking money for a single fucking beer.” The vendors agreed, and began to distribute beer for free while I rode I’ll Have Another in the parking lot for 45 minutes.
There is a section at Belmont where everybody can stare at the horses and blow cigar smoke in each other’s face. I smoked my stogie while choosing my Belmont winner and receiving 37 separate death stares from non-smoking onlookers.
There was a shitty band playing a shitty song on a shitty stage in front of audience members who thought the band’s set was shitty and the beer prices were shitty but it didn’t stop all in attendance from getting shitty. All in all, it was a pleasant day… albeit a little shitty.
That Was Exciting
Crowds turn into masses. Masses turn into throngs. Throngs turn into immovable objects. For evidence, see the willingness of those in attendance in the cheap seats at Belmont. The closer it came to post time, the more people shifted their body weight to prevent anybody from getting closer to the track. An old couple claimed to be at their seats since 8AM, but since they were old and helpless, were one of the few people to be forcibly moved from their position by “The Throng”. I, being the unstoppable force, caused quite the scene when I created a black hole in the universe and found my position 50 feet from Bob Costas’s big head. A number of people told Bob he was short, and I couldn’t help but think that Bob already knew that.
I saw two separate fights occur. One was over a supposed ass-grab of a female. I can’t say it did happen, though, because that woman did not have an ass. (SWISH!) The other scuffle occurred after two bowtied 20somethings attempted to bypass a clearly inebriated mustached man. Some will say the bowties won the fight, but in my book, Mr. Mustache won because he was wearing a Pokey shirt. (Gumby)
My position clearly established as almost parallel to the finish line, I braced for the beginning of the race.
In this spot, the race breaks down as:
(0.01)AND THEIR OFF! HOLY SHIT EVERYBODY IS YELLING AHHHHHHHH !
(2.0)THERE GO THE HORSES!
(3.0) ANNNNNNNNNNDDDDD now I can’t see shit.
The two horses I wagered on fell behind early (WIN OR GO HOME!) and never caught up, as I watched Union Rags take the win and my money. Initially, Belmont was expecting anywhere from 110,000-150,000 attendees until I’ll Have Another backed out. The energy in “The Throng” of 85,000 was as petrifying as it was exhilarating. I hope to be in “The Throng” next year, not seeing shit and losing more money. Hopefully, I’ll see other people lose their shit when a Triple Crown winner crosses the finish line.