September 2012 home page

Rich Simons | 11th Street

Q: I’ve had a really bad year at the race track. None of my systems seemed to work. Do you have any “hot tips” that will help me out with the ponies? - b.m.

After all these years, I would hope so. Here you go:

Tip No. 1) The best advice I can give you is this: You can’t lose with this one (but you should have asked me earlier): Shortly before the season starts, leave town and don’t return until the races are over.

Tip No. 2) You’ll win every time with this one: Always bet on the jockey in the white pants and black boots.

Tip No. 3) My daughter’s system: If there is a grey horse in the race, bet it. (But it has to be just the right shade of grey. Me:
“That one?” Daughter: “No. Too light.” Me: “Ah. The other one then.” Daughter: “Too dark.” Me: “Well how in the heck am I supposed to know . . .?” Daughter: “Look, Pops. Just put your money on the damn grey horse and if it wins then it was the right shade!”)

Tip No. 4) I know this works, but maybe only if you wear your collar backward: An elderly friend of ours, a priest who must bear the burden of having taught me English in high school, was fond of the ponies and he would come to visit us every season so we could accompany him to the track. He had a system that we didn’t understand for many years – before each race he would disappear while the rest of us would go over to the paddock to look for a grey horse and a jockey with white pants. Then when the race was over the old padre would emerge from somewhere, waving a winning ticket. This mystified us until one day my son went looking for the bathroom and in an obscure corner of the racetrack came upon our friend huddled in an intense conversation with a gnarly little man with hay in his hair– a retired jockey who slept at the stables!

So that, my friend, is how it is done. That plus two Hail Marys and an Our Father, I imagine.

Q: We’ve been hearing a lot about “roundabouts” lately. What do you know about them? Do you think they are right for Del Mar? - w.s.

Space considerations preclude me from sharing with you my life experiences with roundabouts in this issue, but I hope to do so next month. For right now, just let me offer the following:

If roundabouts in Del Mar mean that the awful acre of asphalt that is the intersection of Camino Del Mar and 15th Street will be supplanted by a large round fountain, spigots of water arcing into the air lit by colored lights, bordered by seasonally appropriate flowers, and in the middle a life-size bronze statue of our town’s spiritual leader, Zel Camiel, sporting that iconic Greek sailor’s hat of his, gazing down 15th Street toward the ocean, then I am all for them!



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