"C'mon, boi! One and tree! One and tree! C'mon, boi! C'mon, boi!" The heavyset Jamaican man in the yellow button-down shirt and khaki shorts threw a clenched fist in the air and shouted at the clutter of steeds galloping down the stretch in a cloud of sunburnt mahogany. Another man, middle-aged with scraggly yellow hair and a mustache like a push broom, added his voice to the yelling. A tanned gentleman in a pink polo with a trophy wife by his side turned ruddy as he shouted. A rotund woman in jean shorts anxiously slapped a folded program against her thigh with a methodic pump. Their faces resembled melting, howling gargoyle sculptures.
I held my $5 ticket and tried to keep my gaze on the gray-spotted number-six horse. I bet that horse because it was named Ariel's Flyer. I once dated a girl named Ariel. This seemed like as good a reason as any to place my bet on her.
The cluster of horses made its way toward the finish line. Dirt flew in the air, muscles twitched, nostrils flared -- and that was just the rabid humans watching the race, trying to will their ponies toward victory with yelps and wails. The horses were a clutter of grace and beauty, speed and destruction. Ariel's Flyer was somewhere at the end of the pack. She was in sixth place. Or was it eighth? Shit. Where is she? Did she even get out of the gate?
The Jamaican man bellowed louder. "One and tree! "C'mon, boiii!" He was apparently rooting for the number one and three horses, the sun glimmering off his bald head.
As the horses came flying by, thundering toward the finish, some in the crowd groaned; one or two cheered. Most seemed flustered. Ariel's Flyer's hopes of an upset died in the afternoon sun, taking my five bucks with it. This was horseracing. A few quick minutes of exhilaration, followed by an ethereal moment of anticipation, quickly ending in dashed hopes.
And it was pretty fucking cool.