Assiniboia Downs, Winnipeg, MB, Jun 23, 2001

Chippewa Downs, Belcourt, ND, Jun 24, 2001 (Track #108)

What a trip this one was. Wanted to visit Chippewa Downs for awhile just to say I had, but wow this track is out in the middle of North Nowhere, North Dakota, just over the line from Manitoba. Never could fit it into any kind of logical loop of tracks on a mini-tour. Finally just decided "screw it" and went for a two track quickie.

Plan was to fly from Chicago to Some Bumble, North Dakota, then rent a car and drive to Winnepeg to visit Assiniboia again, then down to Chippewa, then back to Some Bumble, and home. Just a long weekend. On paper, it made some halfway economic sense when a cheap plane fare presented on one of those last minute fare things, and the rent-a-car and one night in motel was reasonable, I thought. So off I went.

Well, first and foremost, after the previous visit to Assiniboia and singing its praises and getting a DRF writeup, I kind of had a standing invitation to "Call Us! If you come again!" from folks there, which by this time had mostly turned over, with Susie Sourwine moved on, and a gentleman I did not know in charge of the marketing. But I emailed anyhow and told them I was coming, not knowing exactly what to expect.

I was a bit aghast when I arrived and checked in with the marketing guy and was offered a free buffet, and what the hell are you going to do? I ate it, and hey here's my Assiinboia report - they have a pretty good buffet! but then I didn't know what to do. Felt like the bogus was on me to produce another glowing review of Assiniboia Downs, while also feeling like a sellout chump for having accepted that dinner. So I did what I always do when faced with a conundrum like that, which was froze and nothing at all. Just did some betting, had a few beers, and departed. Never wrote about that night until now. But it was a good buffet. Thanks, Assiniboia.

The next day was a looping and scenic two-laner trip down to the Turtle Mountain Chippewa reservation at Belcourt ND and the track somewhat outside town, which I finally found with just a minimum of gettin-lost. This is a really little fair type track, and the racing is little fair track type racing, too, but I soon got sidetracked from the racing, fascinated listening to all my fellow race fans talking.

Here we had the perfect intersection of three worlds, with the Canadian "aboots" accents and "eh?", and North Dakota/Minnesota nordic honyocker, and the soft Native American lilt that always ends in a question. It was a musical symphony of human speech without the singing. I enjoyed it immensely and spent the day just enjoying that symphony, with the horse racing totally background.

What I did not enjoy was turning my car in at the rental agency later, in Some Bumble, ND, and learning that no, I did not have unlimited mileage like I thought I did, and owed an extra $360 due to that that big long loop. Oops. Most expensive two tracks ever,