After a few days of extreme heat, then a few nights being shaken out bed because of some mighty storms, now we have smoke.
My Day 5 post is a day late, as Michael and I attended Northland’s Park After Dark event last night.
We responded to a Tweet inviting us (and the world) to a casual and fun Tweetup night at the race track. Although geared towards a younger crowd (judging by the music – and yes, Michael and I are getting to the age where we are saying, “What is that noise?”) we didn’t feel at all out of place. We were given our name tags, free program, program reading lesson, shown to THE most comfortable chairs I’ve ever seen at a race track, and got ourselves an after-work appropriate beverage and settled in for a night of fun.
And fun it was! Michael had two horses that came in first, and I won a Win Three, meaning I picked three horses in three sequential races, that would come in first. What are the chances?
There are many approaches to finding your winning horse. There is the technical way, which Michael uses, where he studies the program, the stats, listens to the commentary, and does some logarithms on the whiteboard of his mind just for fun:
Me, on the other hand, prefer my own method. And with the same consistency that I write these blogs, that is the same consistency that I pick my horses. Some of my tried and true favourites are to select:
– the prettiest horse
– a clever name
– a horse that makes eye contact with me when paraded by at post time
– whatever horse that guy picked in front of me because he looks like he has bet on the horses since 1936.
And no matter what method we use to pick our horses, there is no “trick”. But the fun is trying to figure it out.
Park in the Dark gave Michael and I a whole new perspective of horse racing. Back in the day, when we lived in Calgary, I frequented the races for about a year with a gang of people that I worked with at Heritage Park. We would head down on Thursday nights, pack into a tiny little smoke filled room, drink our watery beer and make our bets. I’d escape into the fresh air long enough to pick a horse, then crowd back in the tiny room, drink my beer, and smoke my cigarettes. Although the people were great fun, I shudder at the thought of all of us standing around in that smoke filled room.
I didn’t go to the races for a good two decades, then was re-introduced when we moved up to Edmonton. My uncle Bill has an annual tradition of hosting a bunch of us family at Northlands towards the end of every July. We sit in air conditioned splendor in Colours, a tiered seating restaurant with a perfect view of the entire track, decent food, and attentive staff. About half way through the races I like to make a break for it and head downstairs to stand track side, because I get excited to watch the race while I’m standing at the rail. The horses are gorgeous and the sound of them storming around the track is a real thrill for me.
Now in 2012, a night at the races has changed in a great way since those days in the 1980s in Calgary. Instead of just having a few backless, metal seats on the tarmac to sit on, Northlands has cushy soft outdoor patio furniture. They even have a portable fire pit, DJ, a decent sound system, full bar, clean washrooms, and smokers penned off in a corner.
Our hostesses for the evening are beautiful, energetic men and women, who are not afraid to kick off their heels and get on the track in their bare feet, squish the dirt between their toes as they commentate a between-race fun event where men and women bounce on hoppy balls in a mini race.
Michael and were very comfortable and enjoyed our evening. Winning a few bucks made it even more fun. We did pack it in after Race 7, just when Park After Dark was getting into full party mode. We understand they stay open until 11 p.m. and then, if you want to keep the party going, have free ETS shuttles to The Pint.
Park After Dark is a great new addition to the summer patio scene in Edmonton. A great way to spend an evening outdoors, sitting on a patio, relax, be fed, watered, and entertained.