Travers Challenge: Stay Sober, Have Some Dignity–Actually Remember the Race.

Marion E. Altieri Mommy's Little Horsie WriterOK, boyz and grrrlz, this is the article that you’ll probably gloss over and not even bother to read–if you’re immature, stupid or just-plain childish.

This is the Travers article that you may decide to read for the heck of it, then roll your eyes back into your head, as if I’m your Mommy, lecturing you.

But like it or not–read it or not–I’m writing it.  I actually don’t care what you think about me–I’m more concerned about you living through Travers Weekend, and the lives of your potential victims.

This article isn’t for you, the puerile who plan to get blind-drunk on Travers Day.  This article is for your family, friends and others who have the ability–and love you enough–to take your car keys away.

Here’s the deal.  I’m reading and hearing a lot–especially on certain Facebook pages–about how horrible NYRA is, for putting a cap on the attendance for the Travers.  Especially now that it’s been confirmed that Yes, American Pharoah will run in the race.

Funny thing is that many of those who are complaining the loudest are some of the people I’ve seen blind-drunk at the track.

Drinking yourself stupid:  an activity that you could do in the privacy of your own home, where you don’t have the chance either to bother or kill anyone else.

First of all, anyone who thinks of Getting Drunk as the way to “celebrate” anything–a baptism, Christmas, New Year’s, the Super Bowl or the Travers–is an idiot.  Or an alcoholic.  If you’re an alcoholic, you need rehab.  But if you’re just an idiot–ahhhhhhh, yes–you have the opportunity between today and Saturday to re-think your game plan, and Grow Up.

No day of the week is a good day to go to the races and get blasted.  Why bother?  You get loud–other people hate you–and yet…yet, somehow inside your mind, you’re thinking that you’re funny, smart, handsome and endlessly entertaining.

No one around you agrees with that assessment.  And yet, many of your friends don’t seem to care enough about you to take away your keys because they, too, are working on getting drunk to the point of nausea.

The reason to go to see horses race, any day of the week, is to see horses race.  (Follow me closely here, ‘K?)  Those who go to the races to watch, to wager–who are serious about the sport–may have a beer or two during the course of the afternoon–but no serious bettor would get drunk, because handicapping and intelligent wagering requires being lucid, with as many brain cells at your disposal as possible.  Handicapping and betting are not activities for morons who think that “a good day at the races” meant getting so drunk that you verbally assaulted a woman you don’t know.

Lest you think that I’m just a big ole meanie–a Mommy with no one to discipline–you think incorrectly.   In 1996, I worked the last five days of the Saratoga meet.  It was the long Labor Day weekend–I had nothing to do, and felt like making some cash while at the same time, seeing the races from the perspective of a NYRA Red Cap.  I was assigned to check tickets for those who had seats in the Grandstand area.  Standing in the sun all day long, facing the track.

Hot, hot, hot.  Of course, not a drop of rain for five days.  Not a cloud in the sky.  Just the blistering Saratoga Sun.

But before the first of those days played out, I–and everyone else working that weekend–were given (check this out) sexual harassment training.  That is, we were instructed how to handle people who got drunk and may have said or done something of a sexual nature to we, the NYRA employees.

I don’t remember the name of the woman from HR who instructed us, but I’ll never forget what she said:

“Alcohol + sun = stupidity.”

Of course:  the sun and excessive heat exacerbate the effects of alcohol on the human brain.  That’s just basic Science.  Duh.

So here’s the deal:  you may have a ticket to see American Pharoah race in the Travers on Saturday, against a field of other talented Thoroughbreds.  If so–lucky you.

You have the right to go to the race–to be thrilled out of your mind by the prospect of seeing Pharoah make history.  (Or, I guess we could say, to flip the script on Saratoga’s history, as Graveyard of Favorites.)

You have the right to go to the race.  You have the right to hang with your family and friends.  You have the right to bet your brains out, on downright stupid bets that no thinking handicapper would take.

You have the right to eat ’til your pants bust–to wear a garish Hawaiian shirt–to laugh and love and think about How Awesome It Is, to be in This Place, at This Time.

But you do not have the right to affect the lives of others, in any negative way: 

*  You do not have the right to get so drunk that the child of another person is emotionally scarred because you’re behaving in a scary manner.

*  You do not have the right to be loud, obnoxious, cruel or abusive to another human being.

*  And never–ever–to a horse.

*  And you do not have the right to then pour yourself into your car, incapable of even seeing the road–and driving away from that racetrack, a weapon looking for a place to happen.

You see, to put alcohol into your head–is akin to putting a bullet into a gun.

Turning the ignition of your car is then like cocking the gun.

Driving away is You, pulling the trigger on someone else–someone who has done nothing wrong, someone who doesn’t deserve to be mistreated–or worse–by you, or any other drunk.

You do not have that right, to affect another person, animal or family in a negative way.  Just because you went to the track with the intention of “enjoying the races” by getting drunk out of your skull.

I’m not saying, not to have a beer or two–I’m saying, have a beer.  Or two.   Beer, wine and liquor will not make you cool down in the outlandish Saratoga heat–the coldest beer on Earth has not that ability.  For that, you need water, sports drinks, fruit juices.

Not nearly as sexy as alcohol–but the only real ways to stave off the negative affects of heat and sunshine on your potassium levels.

Please don’t go to the track on Saturday, August 29th with any intention other than seeing great Thoroughbreds duke it out on the track.  Please do not go to the track to get drunk:  if that’s your way to “have fun” on a Saturday–stay home.  We real race fans don’t want you here.

John Stuart Mill’s take on Utilitarianism dictates that your perceived “right”–to get drunk–is far outweighed by the right of everyone else in Saratoga–in Upstate New York–on Earth–NOT to have their lives disrupted (or worse) by you and your idiocy.  The rights of one, vs. the rights of the many.

Essentially:  if you go to the track, stay sober.  Simple.  Real race fans don’t want you around, if you’re just a drunk who plans to take up valuable space that a real horse lover and race fan needs. If you go and, because you ignored our warning about sunshine and alcohol–and thereby, find yourself with a headfull of alcohol that should not get behind the steering wheel of a car–do the intelligent thing.  Take a cab.  Call a friend.  Do not set yourself up for legal, moral and spiritual consequences for which you are not prepared. (How do we know that you’re not prepared?  The fact that you’re not mature enough to know when to stop drinking, indicates that you’re too selfish to think about legal, moral or spiritual consequences.)

The bartenders at Saratoga Race Course have the mandateit’s their job–to cut you off when they see that you’ve had “enough.”  If you’re just an idiot, you should know what “enough” looks like, but if you don’t–they’ll let you know.  Strongly.  Do not then go around screaming that NYRA is Mean:  that only makes you look like a childish boor, not someone who was singled out for punishment by a racing organization.

Rule of thumb re. Travers Day Plans:
*  “I want to be a part of history as it unfolds”–come to the track!
*  “I wanna get drunk to the point of throwing up on strangers, and blacking out”–stay home, we don’t want you and Society doesn’t deserve whatever abusive results may spring from your selfishness.

Lecture, over.  Now, tell your friends that I’m just an old, mean lady who wants to spoil your fun.  Wah.