An unexpected first experience at the track

by Yuko Okazaki
Stripes Okinawa

My first impression of horse racing was negative. It made me think of gambling, addiction and people losing money. However, in recent years, television commercials promoting the sport have targeted a younger audience and feature popular actors. These commercials show horse racing as a sport that can be enjoyed by everyone and the track as an attractive place for an outing spot. So, when some coworkers said that they were going to go to the races, I told them that I’d go along. I was curious to see what horse racing was all about.

We arrived at the track a little past 5 p.m. The facility was big and open. I felt refreshed as I looked at the track and sky above. It

was great being outside. And I’ll have to admit that I was surprised how clean it was. Because I had such a bad impression of horse racing and gambling in general, I imagined a gray and grimy atmosphere where gamblers spent all their hard-earned money.

But, it was a lot different than that.

There was a wide variety of people there: groups of friends, salarymen, couples on dates and even some families with children. And I quickly found that for most people there, it wasn’t all about the gambling. It was about the process of horse racing. Before each race, we were able to get a close look at the horses as they paraded around in a small area. They were muscular. Some were calm. Others were very active. It was fun looking at them and deciding which one you thought would win.

 

Before I arrived at the track, I had given myself a 3,000-yen limit for betting. I had no idea what I was doing, but it was enjoyable process to decide what horse I should pick.

For the evening, I bet a total of 2,500 yen. It was so exciting cheering on my horses. And after three and half hours I cashed in my tickets. I got 1,700 yen back. I was kind of disappointed because I wanted to win enough to pay for my food and drinks.

But, when thinking about it, I had hours of fun while only losing only 800 yen. We laughed, cheered loudly and had a lot of fun. It was something different. A good break from going to a restaurant or bar.

I am looking forward to my next trip to the track!

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