The 2000 McChump ??/365 Racing Tour

"The Quest for 100"

44 Exciting Tracks! 19 Thrilling Stories! (so far) 

  • Sam Houston Race Park, Houston, TX, Jan 9

Two times I've visited Sam Houston now, and two times I've stood in their Winner's Circle, as one of my horses took home the gold. I think I kind of like it there. But the admission is still $3.00, and parking $2.00, and perhaps not surprisingly, there was a teeny little crowd in this great big park on a beautiful Sunday evening.

  • Fair Grounds, New Orleans, LA, Jan 29-30

Hey! You are not supposed to be freezing your cheeks when you visit New Orleans! This cannot be, chump! But despite the cold, wind, and a little drizzle, and okay maybe it was busy snowing 8" in Chicago at the time, it was an excellent weekend getaway: Fair Grounds by day, and the French Quarter by night.

  • Manor Downs, Manor, TX, Feb 12 (Track #79)
  • Sam Houston Race Park, Houston, TX, Feb 12 & 13

Just some pictures for now.

  • DRF Handicapping Expo, Las Vegas, NV, Feb 24-27

Back in November, after returning from Louisiana Downs, the McChump Tour travel committee looked over the likely upcoming travel schedule between the final meeting of the Kelly Sampson Fan Club at HAW in mid-December, and Opening Day of horse racing at the Chicago Motor Speedway on the first weekend of March. Except for a weekend at Hollywood Park and Los Al, two trips to Sam Houston, an afternoon at Manor Downs outside Austin, and a weekend in New Orleans sucking down crawfish etoufee and visiting FG, it looked light. Really light.

  • "New" Sportsman's Park, Cicero, IL, Mar 4-5

When I entered Chicago's newly remodelled track in the summer of 1998, I was pleasantly surprised by the many improvements that had been made to enhance the on-track experience for the patrons of live racing. Unfortunately, when I entered Chicago's other newly remodelled track this past weekend, the impression was more one of disappointment and dismay. The overall feeling is one of a huge facility catering to simulcast patrons, with a track out front as an excuse to hold a simulcast license. And the live patron be damned. Much the same feeling I got at Delaware Park about the casino. Except that park is attractive.

  • Laurel Park, Laurel, MD, Mar 25
  • Philadelphia Park, Bensalem, PA, Mar 25

When we left the McChump Tour on Lake Shore Drive coming home from Sportsman's at the Speedway in our last installment, the question of the day that lingered from a racetrack acquaintance was "Have you ever seen anything worse than this?", followed by a vow to spend the Spring finding out. What better place to start looking, I reasoned, than among the mid-Atlantic tracks: the tired, the poor, the hungry, the huddled masses yearning to have slots. Or at least yearning to cut out live racing altogether and just offer simulcasts.

  • Garden State Park, Cherry Hill, NJ, Mar 25 (Track #80)

Visited Garden State Park one evening and managed to come away with nothing more than one picture of the grandstand entrance. It was an okay visit. Not too many people on hand.

  • Laurel Park, Laurel, MD, Mar 26 (Track #81)

Just one lousy picture? What was I thinking?

  • Turf Paradise, Phoenix, AZ, Mar 31 & Apr 7
  • Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, CA, Apr 1-2

It's that time of year again - The Big Co. just absolutely FORCING me to attend the conference at the beautiful seaside Biltmore resort just south of Santa Barbara. Dang! But so as not to make it a total loss, I determined to go out a bit early, and stay a bit late, and make something out of the trip. Being the good corporate citizen I am, I did a little searching of airfares and found that if I flew round trip to Phoenix, and then got a cheap shuttle to Burbank, it was way way cheaper than a round trip to Santa Barbara. Isn't that conveeeenient?

  • Sunland Park, Sunland Park, NM, Apr 8 (Track #82)

Another just one picture event? It's what happens when you're trying to conserve film, I guess.

  • The Downs at Albuquerque, Albuquerque, NM, Apr 9 (Track #83)

Just one picture, a fine professional shot from the infield parking lot.

  • Lone Star Park, Grand Prairie, TX, Apr 22

Saturday, just prior to the Lone Star Derby, the music swelled over the PA as announcer Michael Wrona started in on an intro to an exciting event about to transpire and directed our eyes to the sky. Skydivers were about to descend on the park.

The plane circled and buzzed several times as the patrons craned their necks, and the music built to a crescendo. "I'm getting whiplash!", one racegoer was heard to exclaim.

  • Phil's Big Caravan from Dallas
  • Evangeline Downs, Lafayette, LA, Apr 28
  • Quarter Pole Downs, Rayne, LA, Apr 30 (Track #84)
  • Festival Internationale de Louisiane
  • Delta Downs, Vinton, LA, Apr 30

Laissez les bon temps roulez, chump!

  • Arlington Intl, Arlington Hts., IL, May 14 & Jul 1, 2000

The endless Spring at the Speedway is over and the palace that Dick built is finally back, after two drama filled years on the sidelines. But the drama is over, and racing is back at AP.

  • Pocatello Downs, Pocatello, ID, Jun 3 (Track #85)
  • Whoop-Up Downs, Lethbridge, AB, Jun 4 (Track #86)

Right after I was involved in an Internet discussion about why people actually go to the track and I was on the side of "lots go for fun" while others held firm for "people don't go for any reason but to gamble", I all of a sudden realized what they meant when I came down with a case of the Gamblin' Fever, real bad. Real bad, squirming around like an Oktoberfest patron waiting in a long line outside a port-a-potty. I needed to go a-gamblin'.

  • Eastern Oregon Livestock Show, Union, OR, Jun 9 (Track #87)

-- Friday, June 9, 8:00am, Ketchum, ID

Nine hours it took to get here yesterday, through some of the prettiest country in the Rocky Mountain west.

  • Jerome County Fair Racing, Jerome, ID, Jun 10 (Track #88)

-- Saturday, June 10, breakfast time, Denny's by the Boise airport

Always you are learning something on this Tour. This morning the Boise newspaper has interesting news items. For instance, the White Sox beat the Cubs. And also for instance, there is an important new webcam out there, CornCam, where in your spare time at the office you can watch corn grow. "Cheer as the mighty cornstalks battle wind, hail, and rainstorms". Usually cornstalks are underdogs. I'm a sucker for underdogs. I'll be rootin' for that corn. Most definitely I will have to be checking out CornCam when I get home.

Another thing learned: This Denny's has the worst service of any Denny's in the world. Probably. Don't stop here.

  • Multiple stories and A Noble Quest
  • 19 tracks in 2 months
  • Gila County Fair, Globe, AZ, Oct 7 (Track #103)
  • "New" Turf Paradise, Phoenix, AZ, Oct 8

An afternoon in small town arizona in the high desert east of Phoenix, and a hearty Mexican dinner at a local dive after the races. What more could a chump want?

Just some pictures.

  • Hawthorne Racecourse, Stickney, IL, Oct. 15 & 22

No story. I'm mad at them for dropping out of the NTRA.

  • Retama Park, Selma, TX, Oct 28

Well, we did go to the races, but I apparently didn't get any pictues of that. So this picture of the Alamo will have to do.

  • Fairmount Park, Collinsville, IL, Nov 3
  • Churchill Downs, Louisville, KY, Nov 4
  • Beulah Park, Grove City, OH, Nov 5

Just some pictures.

  • Halftime Sports Bar, Great Falls, MT, Nov 25

*** Story come soon, man! ***