1 July 2006
During the half time break of the Germany/Argentina game I took the Hammer to the park for a run before the heat of the day really screwed it on. It is so hot the worm sucking robins, once numerous as people who think the Canucks will one day win the Stanley Cup, have left the park for happier hunting grounds. The Hammer, after doing what it is dogs do in the park, pissing and shitting, got into some french fries kindly left behind by the local teenage pig motherfuckers. When I retire I will no longer have to buy dog food for my dog because I will have more time to walk her in search of teenage fast food crap thrown out of imported car windows.
As soon as I saw the fucking Germans unfairly crush the entertaining Argies in the shootout I loaded up my big black Cadillac; the one with whips and furs and cold Canadian beer in the back. Today was Race Day in Princeton and I was not going to miss it for the world. After getting an all clear report from the Dope City Traffic Jam radio station I dropped a hit of the last hundred lot of Nick Sands' acid I stashed away when Cesare Maniago was in the Canuck net. There is nothing worse than being stuck in a traffic jam when the drugs begin to take hold.
I slid the first of many Hawkwind cds into the player. I was driving my space ship to Sunflower Downs. I ran into no other space ships during the journey. The trick is to not take too much acid and to drive slow as you can get away with without attracting attention. If you start to see bats flying in broad daylight you may want to consider pulling over for a spell.
After I bought my program at the gate I headed to the Rotary International booth to buy a raffle ticket. The friendly guy I bought the ticket from claimed to have met Colonel Saunders at a Rotary meeting in Dope City during the '70s. How the fuck can you top that? "He looked just like he did in his tv commercials. But he smelled like good whisky."
A bluegrass band was entertaining the crowd as they made their way into the wooden grandstand or the sun scorched beer garden. The band was called the Dope City Bong Rangers I believe. Ed over at the Old Blue Bus would have been delighted to hear them as the crowd was.
The first race was run by Arabians. As they ran by the dust carried on the summer wind choked the fans and sent them running for more beer from the beer garden. At Dope City Downs a few people hit the beer like Ronaldo can hit a net; at Sunflower Downs most of the people hit the beer like Todd Bertuzzi hit Steve Moore.
In the beer line-up I talked to a guy from New Jersey. He was wearing a Monmouth Park golf shirt. I asked him, "What the fuck are you doing here?" He told me, "This is the 129th race track I have visited. I have been to tracks from South America, to Japan, to England." I liked the guy from Jersey. His wife had knockers Bruce Springsteen could sing about.
Sports writer Tom Whalley, an ex-jockey with an eye for gals half his age and fast cars, was there to take in the action. An old timer hollered at him across the sea of dust and beer, "Is that all you do is hang around the racetrack with porno stars and celebrities?" Tom looked at the old geezer as if he was wondering whether he had seen the movie.
I next ran into Grog, one of my Sliverville neighbours who has been in the horse business for many years. The old neighbourhood is proud of Grog. He stayed out of criminal enterprise and still made money. He was there with his wife Sophia to pick up a horse they planned to claim cheaply and then run in Dope City. Their Shinny Brook Stable has developed a well earned reputation for spotting under-appreciated race horses for sale at bargain prices. I asked Grog why he got into the horse business. He said, "It is the only way I could think of to lose money faster than betting on the Canucks." Sophia added, "Grog is actually thinking of claiming a horse by the name of Bertuzzi running at Emerald Downs. Expect to see him running for the Similkameen Cup in a year or two." Grog added, "That's the only way I can see a Bertuzzi ever winning a Cup!" (Bertuzzi ran 5th in a maiden claiming race at Emerald today. He made it down the track without clobbering anyone.)
As I was watching the horses pick their way through the rocks in the walking ring a hat blown from the head of a fan was picked up and returned by a handler walking a horse. You do not see friendly shit like that in Dope City.
The jockeys sat in the shade of several big trees as their rides were shown off in the ring. Several of the jockeys who ride in the Interior circuit are women. Only a baby horse could possibly be cuter than a female jockey. One of the jockeys, by the name of Pam, hosed her chest down and asked us to, "Enjoy the show," with a cock of an eyebrow and winning smile. I said, "If you insist." Like I said, you do not see friendly shit like that in Dope City.
A drunk laughed at me about how I dressed. I laughed at him about how he drank. He said, "What kind of an asshole laughs at the way a man drinks?" I said, "The kind of asshole who will buy you a beer." I bought him a beer and dropped a hit of acid in it. As I write this he is captaining his own cowboy spaceship he does not remember getting into the saddle of.
The taco fries are worth the trip up to Princeton alone.
Dope City horse trainer Storm Bridgeview was at Sunflower Downs for the second year running. He again was in charge of more winners than any other trainer. He is having a fine year and is looking forward to "running a Dancewithavixen foal in the near future." The Dope City horse crowd is hoping to see lots of Dancewithavixens' babies as the years go by.
Storm trained the winner of the 2006 Similkameen Cup. The horse's name was Proud Son. I was all in behind him and headed home happy for heavily betting an 8/5 favourite.
Visiting Sunflower Downs felt like a very Canadian thing to do this weekend. The view of our never to be tamed country from the grandstand is as free of compromise and welcome to a city boy's eyes as the reduction of the GST; as Canadian as cheering for England against Portugal. It was like stepping back in time, to a time when horses and beer were king and dope was a bad word reserved for politicians and hockey goalies.
Predictably, the drive home through the Allison Pass was an exercize in deer dodging. The deer who live in Manning Park have worse traffic sense than the drunks of Hastings Street. If I had left the race track ten seconds earlier one would have ran right in front of me.