Insider Tips

Beginner's Guide
(Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing)

ASK FOR HELP – You won’t find information booths at most tracks, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t love newbies! If you have a question, ask anyone, whether it’s the program seller or the nicest-looking person you can find. Despite what you may think, racing fans take pride in their accumulated knowledge and most are happy to share opinions with you. They’ll tell you anything from what horse they like in the next race to which concession stand has the best food!

Keeneland Race Course is perfect for getting up close to the horses. (Eclipse Sportswire)

SEE THE HORSES UP CLOSE – There’s so much to love about the racetrack, but ultimately it’s all about the horses! Go to the paddock, the area where the horses are saddled before the race, and see them up close. Then watch from the rail as they fly by in the stretch and stand behind the winner’s circle while the best ones get their pictures taken. There aren’t many sports where you can get so close to the top athletes — take advantage of it.

IT’S OK TO SHOW UP LATE – There are usually at least nine races and sometime as many as 13. Serious fans and gamblers will want to see them all, but for everyone else that can be like asking a brand new golfer to suffer through 18 holes on a championship course. There’s nothing wrong with showing up mid-afternoon and staying for a few hours. Have a few drinks, make a few bets, enjoy some good food, and get out while you’re still wanting more.

PLAY HOOKEY – In most cities there’s live racing on weekday afternoons. If you want to feel like you’re really getting away with something, ditch work and spend the afternoon drinking and playing the ponies instead. 

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