[Photos by James MacDonald]
When I was eight years old, I won $240 at the track. My parents took me to Belmont Park—the same venue where Secretariat completed the triple crown in 1973—and gave me $3 to gamble with. Some would call this bad parenting; others would call it a wise investment. Fortunately for my parents’ lawyers, it was the latter.
I didn’t know what 7:2 odds meant, where the finish line was, or that Onoitsmymotherinlaw was an actual and legitimate name for a horse. But that didn’t stop me from giving my expert opinions on each thoroughbred as they circled the paddock. Too aggressive. Too tall. Too gray. Weird hooves. Ugly face. Bad number. Every horse had a clear disqualifying fault to my eight-year-old brain, except for number two. “He looks strong,” I told my parents in the tone of an old wise man choosing an apprentice. I bet $3. Never would I make $240 that easily again.