Italian-Americans win some, lose some at the track

Jim Roberts

It was a typical, Arizona beautiful day at the Turf Paradise Track in Phoenix. The horses were getting saddled. The Tipsters were touting their tips. The Railbirds were jockeying for their spot on the rail and 17 intrepid Italian-Americans from PebbleCreek were assembling in the glass enclosed Turf Club Room right above the finish line. The buffet lunch looked very good with brisket of beef and roast turkey on the carving station. We would share the buffet line with the ladies of the Red Hat Club.

The PebbleCreek Italian-American Club would sponsor the third race. Representatives from the club would go down to the Winner’s Circle after the race for a photo opportunity with the winning horse. A photo would be taken with the club people, the winning horse, the owners, trainers and the jockey.

The National Anthem was played and all stood at attention with hand or hat over their heart, and some of the retired military and veterans saluted the flag, even if dressed in civilian outfits, as they were authorized to do by Congress not too long ago.

This year, just for fun, we would play a game they play in old Italy. Every year, the city of Siena is divided into districts called “contradas.” They have a big horse race called a palio. Horses are drawn by lottery and a horse is assigned to each contrada. If their horse wins, their contrada has bragging rights for a year. In our game, each table was a contrada and they drew a number for each race, and there were three races (4, 5 and 6). The table that won the most races won the bottle of vino.

The bugler called the horses to the track. The crowd down on the rail started moving around, tension was building in the clubhouse as the horses for the first race moved from the paddock to the track. The track itself was fast today, and beautifully manicured as was all the grounds at Turf Paradise. Everybody started placing their bets after looking over the racing form. The horses were being led into the starting gate one by one. Once loaded, the bell rang, gates opened and “they’re off and running.”

The winner of the club sponsored race, the third, was Cee’s Joy with Jockey Scott Stevens in the saddle. Scott won three races that day. Unfortunately, I didn’t bet on him. You lose some, win some. There were eight races. Unless you were a really big better, you couldn’t win or lose much, and I don’t know of too many places you can go for the entire afternoon and be entertained for so little money. It was a great afternoon, everyone had fun and we are already looking forward to the next time. If you would like to join us, join our club by going to our website and complete the “Membership Registration Form” or call Club President, Ken Minichiello at 419-356-4010 (cell).