Elvis Is Everywhere, Chump!

Arlington International Racecourse, Aug. 10, 1996

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.

My friends and I headed for AP's "Park", the grassy knoll on the stretch, where the truly excellent Elvis action was scheduled to take place and where, not coincidentally, beers cost $2.00 instead of $3.25 like elsewhere in the park. We bought some beer, staked out a spot, and plopped.

As I tried to explain the basics of handicapping to my friends, I kept my eyes peeled. The Park was rife with Elvii: cheesy ones, cool ones, old ones, young ones, bald guys with fake Elvis sideburns, 5yo Elvii, Elvii in baby carriages, alien Elvii. A veritable Elvis smorgasbord.

Meanwhile, more Elvis music than you ever heard boomed through The Park. Loud. All afternoon. Did I say loud? Pretty much non-stop.

Elvis event #1 was the Elvis lookalike contest prelims, grand prize a trip for two to Las Vegas for the winning Elvis and his Priscilla. I thought for sure Elvis #6 had this event nailed, and I clapped real loud for him, but he didn't win. But this was just the prelim's, and Elvis #6 was one of the top finishers in his round. Although I didn't stay around to find out what this meant as the beer was talking to me and I had to make a visit indoors.

2:00 pm - the Flying Priscillas. As predicted, the usual skydiving club that performs at AP, but some of the guys actually put on Elvis garb, or wore hideously ridiculous female wigs in honor of Priscilla. All in all, an A+ skydiving performance, and a C- costume effort. A+ in terms of cheese.

After the 5th race or so, the Really Big Elvis event started: The Elvis Karaoke Contest. As it turns out, this is what these faux Elvii were really waiting for. And they weren't bad! Except that we heard "Viva Las Vegas" about ten hundred times. The truly excellent part of the karaoke contest was going up to bet, or to the beer stand, shouldering through the throngs of Elvis hopefuls waiting their turn on the stage, and watching them groove to the Elvis songs while the other Elvis wannabees were doing their number, or overhearing one older Elvis singing "I did it sideways" when the real Elvis impersonator was singing "my way". Truly impressive.

(warning: actual horseracing content)

Meanwhile I was making out about even until the Chris Block horse Beg Borrow and Steal ran off with a minor stakes at 4-1, when I made a big profit. Yay for me.

(okay that's over)

Towards the end of the day, they had the Elvis faceoff down in the Winner's Circle, where the crowd voted for their favorite Elvis. The crowd chose "Peewee Elvis", a small kid in a bad wig with a mid-70's Elvis motif. This peewee Elvis was not my choice, but hey - suburban crowds are suckers for little kids. Later on the way back from the beerstand I asked Elvis #6 how he'd done and he said he was 2nd and didn't begrudge the kid his win, but that Elvis #2 had been really pissed. I'd never realized Elvis competition was quite so competitive.

The Elvii kind of drifted off after that, except one Elvis who could actually play guitar and entertained the crowd in the picnic area for awhile. Then it was time for the Pacific Classic on the jumbotron, and the crowd got really excited for a second or two, and then got real quiet as Dare And Go passed Cigar, and then filed out strangely quiet.

I shook Elvis' hand on the way out, and told him he did a good job.


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