Friday, May 3, 2013

Kentucky Derby, May 4, 2013

Time to place your bets at the local Indian Casino Off Track Betting in Oklahoma!  

A lot of people think of Oklahoma as this hard right, totally red state which is what the Republican Party touts.  But we are also the home to some very fancy and luxurious casinos owned by the Chickasaws one of which sits just south of Norman.  Tribes here own casinos all over the state thanks to a bill passed by the people of Oklahoma that started the lottery which,  in turn,  started the casino industry.

Was at a Republican luncheon meeting when the lottery was being discussed by the anti-lottery/casino crowd.  They asked who was voting for the lottery and the person I was sitting with and I raised our hands, looked around, and realized that we were pretty much alone in our support.  It passed handily so just maybe we were two of the people not afraid to say we supported the lottery and Indian gaming casinos while the rest didn't want anyone to know how they voted.

Only bring that up because several years ago couldn't place a bet on the Kentucky Derby at the casinos - would have had to go to Remington Park Horse Racing which is now owned by the Chickasaws.  I placed the bet on line and now still hear from bookmaker from time to time even though I never bet. Finally this year we could go back to Riverwind to place our bet - my son picked the horses.  On the way home from doing some errands, I heard on the radio our third pick in the trifecta was a good horse to bet on.  We already liked the other two so we will see where we stand after the Derby tomorrow.  Hopefully Rick Patino, the Louisville basketball coach has a really good horse as one of the horses we are betting on is his because of his luck this year.

We bet three times a year - Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes so we are not exactly gamblers.  We were also talking about how we liked the slot machines where you pull down the arm rather than a computer.  Was amazed there were people sitting at TV's in the off the track betting room placing bets on horse races from around the world.

My first time to bet on any horse was in Auburn, NY, at my eventual in-laws.  We had made a trip so I could meet his family.  I grew up in Ohio in a small town about 25 miles north of Dayton in farm country.  My grandparents owned a farm which is still in the family today.  I was working at Wright-Patterson AFB, living in Fairborn.  What I knew about the numbers runners and the Mafia I learned from reading books and watching movies.  Knew that the guy I was with was Italian but all I knew was that I was going to meet his family after picking him up from a TDY for AF Logistics Command at the Naval Shipyard in DC. After I picked him up, we went through New England and Lake George in the fall of the year which was beautiful.

Our first morning in Auburn, we were sitting around the table when his Godfather came to visit but he was there for more than a visit - he was there to collect bets on the horses.  My eventual father-in-law asked if I wanted to bet on the trifecta - didn't have a clue what that was but I said sure.  I picked out three horses with my boyfriend laughing at the names I picked - liked the names.  Short story - I won so when Vincent came to pay me my winnings, he wanted to know how I picked horses.  Laughed and said I liked the names -- still remember one of them had the name Reds and was from a horse farm north of Cincinnati - being a huge Reds fan that was not hard, another was the name of my cat, and the third one my favorite boss.  To this day, I am not sure they ever believed me it was beginner's luck.

After we left Auburn, I asked about what job Vincent held - said he was a retired barber who came from Sicily and was still a numbers runner for the Buffalo mob and then he laughed at the look on my face.  Said he used to run numbers out of his barber shop.  I was so dumb I thought he was collecting bets to go to the horse track.  Never dawned on me that he was part of the mob.  The day he took the bets one of the people at the table was a cousin who was a NY State Trooper who never said said a word except to tell me Good Luck!   My soon-to-be husband was full Italian as his grandparents had come through Ellis Island from Naples.  My father-in-law never let me forget that I had won not knowing that Vince was a numbers runner and the money in my wallet was mob money. He thought it was funny.

My lack of knowledge of Italy came out that first summer when I made sauce and used breakfast sausage instead of Italian sausage.  I had no idea they even made Italian sausage and the recipe from his Mother never said a word.  From those first days, I learned to love Italian cooking and now belong to the Sons of Italy and an olive oil club.  Can still remember after having fixed sauce with meatballs, homemade ITALIAN sausage, a little pork roast, and bracioles along with homemade pasta and fresh Italian bread from the oven  for my in-laws who were visiting, my father-in-law goes "This is the best sauce I have ever had!" At that point my mother-in-law shot him a look if looks could kill, he would have been dead.  Then my husband joins in with talking about other Italian recipes I fixed that would make you think you were in Italy.

From that day forward, I had to be careful with recipes from my mother-in-law because she had a knack for leaving out key ingredients.  You could say we did not become the best of friends.

The stories over the years could fill a book on what it is like to go from small town Ohio to marrying into an ethnic Italian family.  At times I thought I was in a movie.  Some of it didn't even seem real as my husband was a straight shooter after having left Auburn for the Marine Corps at an early age, came back went to college and then became part of General Electric's engineering program with Syracuse University.  He was a stickler on source selection for the Air Force to make sure every thing was done right.  Same couldn't be said for other members of his extended family.

Those memories come back every year when my son and I place our bets for the Kentucky Derby - no numbers runners now - off-track betting in most places including New York State.  May never get over the first bet I ever placed was with a numbers runner.

Have a terrific weekend with the Kentucky Derby tomorrow and Cinco-de-Mayo on Sunday.

1 comment:

  1. I live in New Mexico. Nothing like Social Security day on the reservation casino where the seniors sit at the poker machines, hooked up to oxygen, smoking one cigarette after another!

    The Pink Flamngo