Today was opening day of the last(?) horse racing season at Bay Meadows in San Mateo. I thought I’d attended the last season at Bay meadows a couple years back, but they managed to get an extension.Unfortunately, I bombed out in the betting department and that wasn’t the worst part of the day. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
I arrived at the track about 9:30 with a half-hour to kill before the gates opened. The San Mateo newspaper was free, so I read an article about how the group that had been fighting a legal battle to keep Bay Meadows open has given up their court battle. So, it seems this season will be their actual swan song. I was able to see the track and most of the grandstand area and was disappointed to see that the track is somewhat elevated from the grandstand. It’s only a slight elevation, but as a result you can’t really stand at the rail and cheer on your horse in the same way you can at Golden Gate Fields.
Once the track opened I bought the Daily Racing Form and program, then signed up for the Bay Meadows Winners Circle which is essentially a loyalty card program where you can earn points by betting on races. The points can be redeemed for programs, parking or admission on future Bay Meadows visits. With more than two hours to kill before the first local post time I started playing the East Coast tracks. Unfortunately, I couldn’t win for losing. None of the handicapper’s picks were finishing in the money, so I bet on a few long shots, but kept picking the wrong long shots. Not a good start to the day.
When Bay Meadows went live my luck started to turn, thanks in part to Russell Baze running. Unfortunately, the Bay Meadows races “don’t pay for crap” as I was informed by a local veteran. He was right. I’d hit an exacts and it would only pay $13, Daily Doubles were paying $20. And a $2 Show bet on a 25/1 horse paid a mere $3.80! Now I couldn’t win even when I was winning! The system I started to develop at Golden Gate Fields on Sunday counts on hedging bets. But with the payous being so low I was simply losing more slowly.
I ended up down about $100 for the day after Baze choked his favorite status in the final race. Frustrated and realizing that I would now be facing commuter traffic back to Morgan Hill I headed to the car only to discover that someone had broken in while I was in the track. The good luck of the day came into play with the fact that they didn’t actually break my window in the process. But the day’s bad luck held once I looked around and discovered that they not only had stolen several dollars in change, but also about $60 in winning lottery tickets that I’d yet to cash in. In somewhat good news it seems the thief was neither a smoker nor an anarchist despite the stereotypes of both. Neither my cigarettes nor the anarchist texts I keep in the car for downtime reading. Still, far from a good day.