Guest Author - Kathie LoMonaco
I grew up in a family of horse lovers who were also fans of horse racing. My parents would take us three kids to Belmont Park, the famous 'backyard' area where there were picnic tables, always a band playing, the aroma of food grilling wafted through the air; the sound of children playing and running around, and, of course, the bugler playing the start of another race; there was the paddock area where we could go and view the horses before each race; my father would run to place his bets at the backyard cashiers located under the outside TV monitors where you could watch the races; oh, and there was a pond with ducks. What was not to like? We would bring chaise lounge chairs and relax under the shady trees. How I miss those good times. It was always a good day when we went there. It was a wholesome family outing.
Somehow my love of horses/horseracing has always been able to take me away from my troubles, even if just for a little while. The stress and strife of everyday life just seemed to melt away when I was at the races. As I got older I realized that a day at the races would help me to unwind and relax. It was one of my favorite places to go. My grandmother was going to the racetrack well into her 90's, with my Uncle. My Mother used to love to play the 'grey' horses; my Father would bet on '2 year old maidens' which were young horses who had never previously won a race. We were real dyed-in-the-wool horse-racing fans. My family came up with an idea that each time one of us won some substantial money at the races, that particular family member would call each member of the family and dinner that evening would be on them! It was such fun. Many times we received calls or we won and called the family and we would all meet at our favorite restaurant by the water on Long Island, 'Dick and Dora's'. It was a great family bonding experience.
Now, in Midlife, I still get excited when I know I'm going to the races - or even at special times of the year when my favorite races take place - which brings me to this weekend, May 4th, Kentucky Derby day. Even on Friday, May 3rd, there is the Kentucky Oaks which is another prestigious race. On a special racing channel yesterday, one of the Hostson the air stated that the Oaks is so popular that even schools are closed that day!
I guess what I'm trying to say is that - no matter how old we get, I'm sure each of us has their own little 'guilty pleasure' - something that just does the trick for you - especially when you need something to uplift you. No matter what my age I'm sure I will never lose that joy in watching and being around horses. They have been an important part of my life. They bring back wonderful memories when my family was all together and having so much fun.
I still hope one day to own a race horse of my own. It's a far-reaching dream, but we all need our dreams. As I get older, although some things will probably fall away, there will always be those little special things that make us still look to life as it continues to unfold. Now, Kentucky Derby, here I come!