The ESR group, after a series of phone calls, text messages, and Chat Room conversations, decided to carry the torch from New York to Vermont…there was no way we were going to South Korea; that place is just one crazy bastards finger away from demolishing the competition. The decision was to meet at Aqueduct Racetrack and plan our journey after betting a few races, downing a few beers, sipping some red wine, and throwing back a few shots while priming the pump.
Practically living in the backyard of the NYRA circuit tracks, frankster, cadet and myself were the first to arrive at the Big A. It didn’t take long for Frank to explain to us that we were going about this trip the wrong way, and how we should plan our path to Vermont by way of all the finest Italian cuisines along the way. Cadet said you are right frank, you are always right, and well, quite frankly, I have never been known as one to pass up a good meal. The first order of business was a stop at the bar, one merlot, one scotch, and one gin. After toasting our success at Equinics and on the days racing card, we noticed in the distance a slightly frazzled gentleman entering the track sporting a Maple Leaf’s jersey with the number 14 proudly displayed on the front; now, never meeting balata before, it was a pretty safe bet, and probably the only right bet we make all day, that this is our Canadian friend. “I need a beer”, exclaimed the burly Canadian, “I think South Korea would have been much safer than JFK airport”. We couldn’t argue that fact and proceeded to the bar to fulfill our northern neighbors request. “Do you have a Moosehead or Labatt”? the bartender looked confused, so balata wound up with a Heineken.
Settling down, we kept our eyes open for the rest of the ESR residents. Next to arrive was our leading correspondent and keeper of the chronicles, itch; however, we were most happy to see him because he was the keeper of the moonshine, brewed straight from the stills of West Virginia.
Now the forecast was for clear weather over the next few days, but it sure looked like snow in the distance, but it turned out to be ace, who managed to have the Buffalo sky follow her all the way to Aqueduct. On her journey, ace stopped to pick up valesa, who’s been looking forward to getting out of Jersey for a while and returning home to Queens. The two ladies were happy to greet the bartender and chase the chill from their bones with a couple of tequila shots.
Deeprock and beisbol met at LAX, flew into O’Hare and met up with hartack and nextbonus, diverted to LGA, they got turned around and wound up at Yonkers, at least that what they said but most of us figured that nextbonus cleverly persuaded the quartet to go to the trotters instead of the flats, and seeing as Yonkers was on our way to Vermont the group decided to meet them there after the Aqueduct card.
A loud chorus of BOO’s resonated among the crowd, and when nycowboy emerged from multitude wearing a Dallas Cowboy jersey with the number 9 we understood why. Well at least Romo is getting to the second round of the playoffs this year, even if it is in the booth.
Casino met up with scoobi in Louisiana, and it wasn’t before long that we received a call from casino that they weren’t going to make it to Vermont, something about an Asian girl, a few bottles of whiskey, and the law. We wished them luck, told them they should have used that one phone call for a lawyer, and that we’d see them in about 5 to 10.
A group text message was sent by kingab declaring us all crazy, that he has no desire of getting locked up like we did in 2012, nor did he want to leave the cozy confines of the Florida sunshine for the frigid temps of NY. “I’ll meet you in Vermont, DON’T lose the torch”.
Shortly before the horses entered the paddock, spinround arrived with her camera, and as photogenic as we all are, we knew by the end of the day these photos were going viral. Someone asked about pointguard, however being a native Vermonter, he would meet and guide us through the Green Mountain State.
During the planning stages it was decided that no one person would carry the torch, after all, we should have learned something from previous Equinics fiascos. The task was delegated to bristolred who organized a bus trip with the remaining members of ESR, tonyalb, awkwardandchai, invayamil, jastables, jrm, lamphere, pointblank, aladar, capecod, kimugle, kingman, and slew to meet at the transferring residency, collect the torch, run it together as a group to the location of the bus company, board the Charter Bus and drive to Aqueduct where we would celebrate upon arrival. Again, CELEBRATE UPON ARRIVAL…They didn’t…kegs were cracked, bottles were opened, spliffs were passed and the torch was left unattended. Fortunately, nobody was injured, and the torch was recovered after the New Salem Fire Department doused the smoke and flames on the charter bus. News reached the Aqueduct group about as fast as the bus group exited that bus, and a contingency plan was put into place. We would meet the New Salem Thirteen on our way to Vermont. They’d probably be tied up for a while at the New Salem Sheriff’s station, so the Aqueduct group were in no hurry to interrupt their track festivities.
The party was on, drinks all around, bets were made, tickets were torn up and rumblings of “rowdy” emerged from the crowd. We were curious, looked around, but we didn’t notice any rowdy groups in the area and proceeded with our good time. Track Security positioned very close to our area, I guess they were looking for that rowdy bunch too.
Now they say music soothes the savage beast, but I’m not sure they meant Sam the Bugler, who wandered over to our group, hit on ace, spin and valesa, and then played Minnie The Moocher on the brass coil. It may as well have been Taps. Everyone applauded, smiled politely and thanked the man in the red jacket and blacktop hat. I need a drink.
It was getting late, we were running out of races and nobody had cashed a ticket all day. The last race on the card was for cheap claimers, older fillies that have never won two races. A field of eight, cadet liked the 2, Bunny Killer. Came home in 23 and change last out, can’t miss. Itch was a bit drowsy feeling the effects of his moonshine, so he liked the 4, Snoreen. Ace liked the 1, Broomstick, felt certain she would fly home. Frank was certain the 7, Heidi was the winner, she looked great, had a pumped-out chest and a great round bottom. I liked the 6, Spirit of Independence, she was the best one on paper, had the best jockey and trainer and was the favorite. Balata couldn’t get his JFK off his mind, so he was betting the 5 Trauma. Valesa liked the 8 Treasure on a hunch. Spin, who spent most of the day cataloguing the events, noticed we all picked a different horse, knew we couldn’t pick a winner in a walkover, and bet the 3 Up In Flames…perfect 40-1, here’s to the New Salem 13…You know the rest of this story…followed Franks route of great Italian cuisines, where spin treated everyone on her winnings to a great meal at Do Peps, just walking distance from the track.
The night was young, it was off to Yonkers to meet up with deeprock, beisbol, hartack and nextbonus who were raking it in by hitting every race at Yonkers that evening. Of course, nothing pays more than $4.00 to win at the trotters, so a short walk through the doorway to the Empire Casino and one spin at the one-armed bandit put a quick end to their winning streak. Unaware of the events of the New Salem 13, the Harness Track 4 suggested we make our way to New Salem, collect the Torch, bail out as many of the unlucky we could, and make our way to Vermont…Good Idea.
Much to our surprise, the trip to New Salem was quite uneventful, sure a couple of pitstops along the way, a nip from the jug, and a detour courtesy of google maps, but we arrived at the crack of dawn at the New Salem Sheriff’s Office. “Good Morning Officer, we are here to bail out our friends and collect the torch”. “Well you can bail out your friends, but they must appear before the Judge tomorrow and the torch has to stay as evidence.” What were we going to do, we must be in Vermont by the end of the day? The last words of kingabs text… DON’T lose the torch…kept ringing in my head. “Who wants to call kingab and tell him we lost the torch”? Collectively I heard; “You’re the Rez manager, you call”. “Hello kingab” …and I proceeded to tell him the story of the Aqueduct 8, the Harness track 4 and the New Salem 13…” Hello, Hello” …he didn’t say a word. What was I going to tell metallinut? Did we ruin the torch lighting ceremony? Ring! Ring! The sheriff picks up the phone, “hey how are you Larry, how’s the family?” The social conversation goes on for about 20 minutes as the anxiety is eating away the group. “Let me talk to Chester and see what I can do. Good talking to you Larry, see you at the Spa.” The sheriff looks at us sternly, gives us a scolding nod of his head and picks up the phone. “Hello Judge, how are you this morning? How’s Mabel doing with the gout? That’s good to hear…” The social conversation goes on for another 20 minutes and at this point the group is backing up to the exit. “You won’t believe who I heard from this morning…Saratoga Larry” He’s asking if we’d do him a favor with these bus burners from the city…Uh Huh, Uh Huh, Yep, Uh Huh, Hmm, No, Yes…You’re the boss. See ya Chester, give my regards to Mabel”.
I don’t know what kingab said or how he did it, but the New Salem 13 were free, and the torch was in our possession. We thanked the sheriff as we drove off warning us to use a different route on our way back because if he sees us in New Salem again he will lock us up and throw away the key.
Finally, we meet up with pointguard in the Green Mountains. “Where have you guys been”? “Oh, we have just been sightseeing and admiring the beautiful state of Vermont”.
As we pass the torch on to our brothers and sisters of the Sim Community we are reminded…
. “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.”
Good Luck to all.