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A Day Watching the Sport of Kings

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A Day Watching the Sport of Kings
 
By Nick Jurkowski
 
It’s always nice to get out and do something different. South Florida has quite a number of “different” things to do, and there are a lot of past-times and hobbies open to the denizens of Florida that will either require all your money, all your time, or eventually put you in jail (that probably technically goes under the “all your time” category). This is why it’s nice when you can find a hobby that’s quite enjoyable, but doesn’t require too much time, money or attention. For most people, horse racing meets these criteria (crazed gambling junkies excepted).
 
Horse racing is a blast to watch, especially when you have placed a wager on the race (the adrenaline rush of rooting for your horse can really be quite profound, even with a very small sum wagered). Florida has a wide range of venues to watch the races, some of which have played host to very important races, such as the Breeder’s Cup. Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach was where I recently took in the races, and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested.
 
I went into Gulfstream Park with no knowledge of horse racing or betting, and walked out with a lot more knowledge (albeit slightly less money). The event that I watched was thoroughbred racing – though harness races sound quite interesting as well. While the races themselves are exciting, I find that the betting really enhances the experience.
 
Wagers on horse races can essentially be broken down into two categories: straight bets and exotic bets. Straight bets are fairly well known, encompassing the win (your horse must win the race), place (your horse must finish first or second), or show (your horse places first, second, or third). Exotic bets are everything else, and include the exacta (in which the bettor picks two horse, and specifies which horse gets first and which gets second), the quinella (which means you pick two horses, and you win if they win or place in any combination), the trifecta (same as the quinella, but with three horses), and the superfecta (the same as previous, but with four horses). This really only begins to explore the depth of horse race betting, but it gives you some idea.
 
Hopefully this serves as a decent introduction to the races. There is really something very exciting about watching thoroughbreds pound around a track while screaming spectators either rejoice or despair. Remember to bet within your limits, but have a good time. I know I’ll be going back