The 1996 McChump ??/365 Racing Tour

8 Exciting Tracks! 5 Thrilling Stories!

  • Turf Paradise, Phoenix, AZ, Jan. 27 - Feb. 4

Not really much new to report on this trip, except about a bazillion touristas gomming up the Phoenix roadways on Super Bowl weekend, and a remodeled backside cafe and bar at TuP. Our motto: "The Backside Cafe - We Cater to Horsemen". Not surprising, as you need horseman credentials to get on the backside in the first place. (And that's all there is to this story.)

  • El Comandante, Canovanas, PR, Feb. 19

The Big Co. saw fit to force me to go on a business trip to Puerto Rico again this winter, and once again I stretched it out to make time for a side expedition to El Comandante Race Track outside San Juan. I cannot recommend this track enough!

  • Sportsman's Park, Cicero, IL, Spring

Man. I got hammered at SPT this Spring. I quit going. (And that's all there is to this story.)

  • Golden Gate Fields, Albany, CA, May 3-4

[Warning: Some math content]
-- Thursday, 5/2, late pm. --

"Yo chump. I'm down in the lobby".

And indeed, there he was, McChump #2 in the flesh, just arrived from Phoenix at my San Francisco hotel. The first "official" stop on the 1996 McChump Racing Tour was underway. (Note: for 1996 "official" stop = "new track"). The weather in the Bay Area was beautiful, pleasantly warm by Chicago standards, and pleasantly cool by those of Phoenix, so we were looking forward to two fine comfy weather afternoons of racing at Golden Gate Fields.

  • Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino, Altoona, IA, May 11

Ahhh ... Mother's Day weekend racing in Chicago ... on Saturday, the $500,000 G.II Illinois Derby at Sportsman's Park ... on Sunday, "Mother's die, opening die - same die!" at Arlington Park (according to Michael Wrona's best "I've fallen and I can't get up!" imitation accent voiceovers on AP's radio commercials). A special weekend, to be sure, a weekend to be savored ... which I spent at Prairie Meadows.

  • Arlington International Racecourse, Arlington Heights, IL, Aug. 10

Well, I have to admit that the Arlington all-Elvis weekend report will actually be only a Saturday-Elvis report, due to a minor traffic mishap Friday that rendered Old Paint totalled!!!, but glad to say, the Saturday Elvis action at AP was first rate. And I got some friends to drive ...

Elvis #1 was spotted just outside the clubhouse entrance to AP, and my personal impression was that this was a fairly cheesy Elvis, but little did I know: when it comes to Elvis, the cheesier the better.

  • Arlington International Racecourse, Arlington Heights, IL, Aug. 23-25

As the front end of a back-to-back McChump Tour, the 1996 Arlington International Festival of Racing and its jewel the Arlington Million offered surprisingly little in the way of stupidity to write about. Except that McChump #2 fell in love with the small animals in AP's petting zoo. We had the devil's own time dragging him away from the baby camel. (And that's all there is to this story.)

  • Prescott Downs, Prescott, AZ, Labor Day Weekend

The back end of the Million Chump March didn't offer much in the line of documentable stupidity, either, probably because we were so worn out from the weekend before, and maybe because we were so worried about the impending first start of our 2yo, German Brown. However, one of our party did sing along with stupid '70's songs at the top of his lungs at dinner Saturday evening, while another managed to pass out face first in her dinner salad, waking up just in time to make it inside to the ladies room before disaster struck. So that was pretty cool. The bikers who were sharing the big picnic table with us weren't all that amused, though, and left in a huff. (And that's all these is to this story.)

  • Arlington International Racecourse, Arlington Heights, IL, Sept. 28

I didn't arrive at Arlington yesterday with a 4 day in mind. In fact, I arrived with the intention of doing nothing more than enjoying a few beers until my owner partnership's mare went in the 7th. But of course, since I got there before the 1st, and because there was racing going on right in front of my nose, bets were there to be made. I found a willing co-conspirator in friend Cal.

  • Turf Paradise, Phoenix, AZ, Thanksgiving Weekend

Well, after two great prep races, our 2 y.o. went off as the co-favorite in the Arizona Breeder's Futurity, only to choke and finish 5th. Bummer. Luckily, the flight to Phoenix was made totally worthwhile by the !!FREE!! Thanksgiving dinner McChump #2 and me found laid out at the local pub down the street from the big cardboard refrigerator box that McChump #2 lives in. Mmmmmmm ... that's living - Thanksgiving Dinner in a bar, right next to the pinball machine. (And that's all there is to this story.)

  • Hawthorne Racecourse, Stickney, IL, Fall

Man. I just couldn't quite get in the groove at HAW. Unfortunately for my bankroll, I didn't quit going. Some improvements in the food selection at HAW this season. Bennie still cool, but assigned to a Budweiser stand. (And that's all there is to this story.)