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Barbara Lombardo of Saratoga Springs, NY, is a journalism adjunct at University at Albany and retired executive editor of The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News. Follow her on Twitter @Barb_Lombardo.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Hold on to your tickets: Saratoga racing season off to a winning start

Tender beef and asparagus for lunch, a $94 winning ticket (for my dad), and a limousine ride to work: Not a bad first day of the Saratoga racing season.

On the way to Marylou Whitney and John Hendrickson's lovely Opening Day luncheon at Saratoga Race Course I made a pit stop at a betting window. My dad had asked me to box 5-3 -- the date of my parents' wedding anniversary -- in an exacta for the first race.  I also bet my birthday, 4-1-7.

Too busy yakking at lunch with Jane Wait to pay attention to the race, I waited till I was heading out to ask a teller if my tickets were winners. She ran them through her machine. "Nope." Pause. "Do you want the tickets back?"

"Yes," I said, thinking, that's how I can prove I placed my father's bet.

Walking back to work, I called Dad, who watches the races on the OTB channel. "My exacta came in!" he said.

"No, it didn't," I insisted, the child knowing better than the parent. "The teller told me it was a losing ticket."

"That's a winning ticket," he declared. "Don't lose it."

"OK, OK," I said, crossing Union Avenue at Circular Street.

A limousine was at the light, waiting to turn. I stuck out my thumb ... and the limo turned the corner and pulled over. I still got it! The window rolled down. "Hop in," said the driver, who turned out to be the friendly Bob Longo of Telstar Limousine. He took me right into The Saratogian parking lot, where no one was outside to witness my  first-class arrival.

First task back at the office was to check with the Pink Sheet clerk for the results of that first race.

"You were right," I told me father.

"I know I was right," he replied.

Did the teller make an honest mistake with a malfunctioning machine, or was she hoping I would unwittingly give up a winning ticket?


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