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.

Not a whole lot changed at FG since last we visited, so that saves you having to read a description of the place again, but the construction is finally finished (farewell, big pile of dirt), and they put down kind of a red astroturfy looking surface over that asphalt walking ring in the paddock that all the trainers were complaining about in the last story.

Sadly, you can't find an Abita beer on premises to save your soul. Crud, Crud derivatives, and Crud byproducts only, ugh, even if they were pretty big and pretty cheap, and the occasional tiny overpriced Heineken. Fair Grounds is severely lacking in the beer selection department these days, and this is a very unwelcome development since the last visit. This will come as a stunner to regular readers: the Tour bought zero beers the entire 2nd day at the track. That's just how bad Crud is. Thumbs down on the FG beer selection. OTOH, the jambalaya, seafood gumbo, and corned beef po boys were outstanding, the last, at $4.50, big enough to feed a family of four an entire week! Thumbs up for the food!

The traditional huge longshot in the Lecomte came in, Noble Ruler at ~60-1, and I didn't have it, natch. In the Tiffany Lass, well, there were some nice fillies, but none exactly struck me as the next coming of Blushing KD. And overall I wasn't that impressed by the quality of the racing for all the hootin' and hollerin' on the Internet about how great it is. For instance on Sunday there was like four Louisiana-bred races in a row. But I do know there's better days - just not when I'm there.

Kind of a quiet weekend at FG, not much in the line of crowds, despite free parking and $1.00 admission, but TVG was all over the place filming something or another, so if you look real close maybe I'll end up in whatever it was they were filming. That'll be me in the Nixon mask. Plus there was a TOBA or HPBA or something convention going on there so you got to see lots of horsemen types hanging around and wearing jackets that said stuff like "Top Trainer - Prairie Meadows - 1998". Tres chic. There's also quite a colorful local character there haunting the apron and ground floor, a scrawny, grizzled old gentleman who both days could be observed in an interesting getup consisting of scruffy tennis shoes, foam green sweat pants, an orange hooded sweatshirt with a dark green plaid wool jacket over it, and a purple ski cap. Also tres chic. And he spent the entire day complaining to anyone who would listen about how the race he had just lost money on was a fix all the way. There was also quite an exciting and spectacular house fire just a block behind the track that covered the sky in thick black smoke, but it wasn't quite so exciting the next day to learn that an old gentleman had lost his life in that fire.

Things were also pretty quiet in the French Quarter, actually very quiet, even during the Super Bowl. Except well after the Super Bowl there was a buffoon who walked into the bar all dressed up in a hideous getup consisting of St. Louis Rams logos, Rams bumper stickers, Rams collectible junk, and possibly wrappers from the official condom of the Rams. Tres chic. He proceeded to drunkenly proclaim the holy ascension of the Rams. The entire bar proceeded to totally ignore him. He walked out. Truly a great moment. Plus right across Bourbon Street from the bar I spotted a miniature WeinerMobile(tm), and that was pretty cool. Anything having to do with WeinerMobiles(tm) is automatically cool.

Thanks much to FG for good customer service, and Internet racing correspondent Joe S. for playing gracious local host. Good visit overall, nice and quiet, good racing at the track, and mostly doing local folks type of stuff rather than tourist stuff. Nothing wild. Maybe I'm getting old!

Nah. I blame the cold.