July 8, 2014

My Introduction to Horse Racing

I have to admit that I've always thought horse racing was a bit of a rich man's sport.  I assumed it was for those who have tons of money and never paid much attention to it.  This weekend, Justin & I were invited to the Stars & Stripes Festival at Belmont Park and we decided to give it a chance.

We were lucky enough to be guests of America's Best Racing and had a blast soaking up their knowledge of the sport.  I was happy to find out that I was totally wrong about my assumptions.  This is totally something we could do again and again.  We did a little research before we went to make sure we were good on the dress code and read up on some basic betting rules (that part gets tricky.)  Here are a few of our favorite parts of the day, plus some advice if you are planning a trip to the track.

Belmont Park itself.  It's not far from the city which makes it an easy day trip.  The park has lots of great history and it's huge!  The grounds were beautiful.  The tailgating atmosphere was great.  So many families and fans carry in lawn chairs, games, coolers and snacks to settle in for an afternoon of fun.  We enjoyed a few beers and some amazing food truck Mac & Cheese.  Read up on what you can bring to the races and prep beforehand.

Horses... obviously.  They are so incredibly beautiful and strong.  I learned a ton about racing and the history of the sport.  I learned how to read their stats and some of the little things to look for.  I think my favorite is their names though.  You can read up on the horses before the day of the race if you want to come with a betting plan.  Or you can wing it like we did and pick the gray horses to win every time.

The Paddock.  This was one of the coolest things about being a guest of America's Best Racing team. We got to go into the Paddock which is where the trainers prep the horses and do a hand off with the jockeys.  We got to be right in the middle of all of it.  It was so cool watching the owners, trainers and jockeys mingling with each other and with the press.

People watching.  The American clothing was out in full form on Saturday.  It was sprinkled in with the hats and fancy summer dresses.  I recommend checking the dress code if you head to the races.  This track had a dress code for the Paddock & the box seats.  We did that in advance and didn't miss out on any of it.

Gambling, winning and the excitement of all of it.  Justin & I spent the first 3 races asking questions and soaking up all the information we could before making a few bets.  (I should have reread this post from Venus before going.) We stuck with pretty basic bets for the most part.  Justin got creative with one and then thought he won... but he didn't.  The picture below was taken when he thought he won.  The smile went away shortly after that when he understood what actually happened.

I decided to make one final bet on the last big race of the day and I WON.  It is so much fun listening to the crowd get louder and louder as the race goes on.  The video at the bottom is Minorette winning the big race of the day which made me a winner too.

photo courtesy of @ABRVTour via twitter

The sport is exciting, the people were so fun and we can't wait to go again with friends.  The whole experience definitely exceeded our expectations and we are trying to figure out how to get to Saratoga before the summer is over.  If you are interested in winning a vacation, America's Best Racing is hosting a giveaway for a trip to Saratoga in New York and Del Mar in California and if you win, you can take me :)  Go check it out here.

Maybe I should rethink Polo and Croquet too...

Have you been to the races?  What's your betting strategy?


  1. I have to say, my hands down favorite event every single year is the Montpelier Horse Races near our house. I've never been to a fancy race track with stadium seating and whatnot, so I can only imagine it's that much better! So happy you got to enjoy it all!

  2. looks like so much fun! i know i could get obsessed / crazy, so i try not to bet except on big races like the melbourne cup or KY derby and only if I am there. i love your dress though! so cute.

  3. Loved this recap! I'm excited to go now.

  4. Considering I've lived 20 minutes away from the Saratoga Race Course for my entire life, I should know more about betting on horses than I do. I once won $38 and thought it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

    I love people watching at the track, it's amazing. So many crazy hats and outfits.

    If you ever make your way up to Saratoga, we should meet up!

  5. SO fun!!! I really want to visit a track now... there's a small one not too far from us, I need to look into it more. You look amazing, btw! :)

  6. Look at you, so classy at the races! ;) looks like so much fun. Polo is big down here but I have yet to check it out for the same reason. Maybe I need to give it a chance!

  7. I love horse racing. But I only bet on the Derby. When I started, my strategy was to go with the horse(s) whose name(s) I liked the best, but I've gotten better at learning to read the stats and the odds. I try to factor that into betting along with some minor research.

    I'm hoping at one point to go to Belmont, one year, I want to go to all legs of the Triple Crown. Being from Pittsburgh though, I was raised to hate Baltimore, so who knows if that will happen.

    Glad you had a good time!

  8. What a cool experience! I love horses... so muscular and strong and elegant!

  9. Not sure if that would be my thing, but hey, I would give it shot! I was just telling SMD yesterday over lunch how I wish Steve and I could be more like you and Justin. Always doing stuff, I love you went on the trip last weekend on a whim!

  10. What awesome pictures you took! I have been to Belmont a few times. So cool and it's pretty historic.

  11. Until reading this post, I too thought the races were a 'rich man's sport'. It's good to know I was mistaken. Thanks for sharing!

  12. I'm glad you had fun and what a bonus that you won! Love the pics.

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  17. This weekend, Justin & I were invited to the Stars & Stripes Festival at Belmont Park and we decided to give it a chance. horse trainer


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