Anne Gordon is a widely read travel writer. Her articles and photographs are published in books, newspapers and magazines. For a glimpse into her world, read on ....
Saturday, April 7, 2012
IT WAS "ABSOULUTE HEAVEN" AT TORONTO'S WOODBINE RACETRACK
Yesterday I went to the races. This first day of the season was lauded on the internet as “Absoulute Heaven in Woodbine opener”, and who, you may ask, won the first race of the day ridden by Steve Bahen – no less than “Absoulute Heaven”. Steve Bahen is a veteran jockey with 1200 races to his credit. And so it was a fitting description for a champion horse and his jockey, as it was for a perfect spring day.
In the massive parking lot of Toronto's Woodbine Racetrack cars ranged from Kias to sleek Mercedes. Inside the human variety was just as diverse.
Giant-size murals of racing horses decorated interior walls. Vintage images of race days dating back decades caught my eye. Narrow escalators drew the punters in and funnelled them up to the viewing gallery. Literally thousands of avid fans filled the closed-in stands overlooking the track. Lined up facing overhead computers, race fans watched mesmerized as up-to-date information flashed across the screens. The al fresco banked seating was awash with people. The tension was palpable.
The horses assembled in the distance. Then away...they thundered in a disintegrating streak around Toronto's Thoroughbred racetrack. As I watched they passed the halfway line and a low rumble like thunder built all around me. In a tight wad the horses pounded the track as they vied for the top place at the finish line.
The burgeoning rumble erupted in a mighty roar. Onlookers jumped to their feet urging their choice to greater efforts. “Absoulute Heaven” crossed the finish line. A triumphant overhead hand clasp heralded a win and the crowd, elated or devastated sank to their seats.
There's a powerful incentive here to enter in, to lay down your dollars and take a chance. It is a primitive urge to win that has throughout the ages lured humanity.
Photos copyright Anne Gordon
Posted by Anne Gordon on Saturday, 7th April, 2012