Central Wyoming Fair, Casper, Wyoming, September 3&4, 2016 (Track #158)

Adventures at the Central Wyoming Fairgrounds in August 2016 (Roxy Roxborough)

So exactly how does a man find himself in Casper, Wyoming when the horsey set are flocking to the beaches of Del Mar and the restaurants on Broadway Avenue in Saratoga? Well, when drivin' and fair racin' fools Dave "High Voltage" T. and "McChump" agree to have a few cold ones in Casper, you oblige. One of the underappreciated rewards to fair racing is the road to your destination. Dave driving from Vancouver BC, McChump from Montana and yours truly cheating by flying to Denver, overnighting at the historic Plains Hotel in Cheyenne (1911) before the drive to the Central Wyoming Fairgrounds via old Fort Laramie. 

Once assembled the gang was doing what they do best. Dave assigning early speed numbers to both quarter horses and thoroughbreds. McChump telling stories of fair meets now defunct barely noticeable behind that 32 Oz. beer. Myself, chatting up the cocktail waitresses and using Dave and McChump's picks in exotic boxes. And Alise shopping. Although finding fashion in Casper is a little like looking for a good Scotch in Saudi Arabia.

But it wasn't hard finding a good time with the usual friendliness found at fair meets. We befriended an owner one day and next day his filly won a stakes race. We found his female jock celebrating with a beer at the far end of the grandstand. Greeting us excitedly after the stake win, she explained that it was just "one beer." She had another mount that day. Clerk of Scales is a bit of an anachronism on the fair circuit. If you can fog up a mirror when placed under your nose, you are ready to ride. 

Wyoming Fairs have seen a resurgence in recent years funded by "historical horse racing machines" which look nothing like horse racing but are instead slot machines that derive some opaque algorithms tied to random racing results to apparently produce random slot results. But Eugene Joyce, the head honcho of Wyoming racing told me he wasn't splitting hairs. The money is needed to fund purses for 16 days of racing at Rock Springs, Gillette and Casper. I knew Eugene's father back when he ran Arlington Park. Joe Joyce was instrumental in bringing the first simulcasts to Nevada as well as founding the Arlington Million. 

I would be remiss if we didn't talk about the Beacon Club just outside the Casper City limits. Here was heaven under one king-sized roof: An offtrack betting parlor, a slot arcade, two bars, the surreal sight of a cowboy band fronting a Laotian gal belting out Johnny Cash to a techno beat arrangement. Dressed in costume di riguer with Stetson, Alise and I seated ourselves near the dance floor as a hardened cocktail waitress gave us the once over before taking our drink order. "Hon, you sure don't look like no rodeo man." Geez!....Must be the running shoes. I gotta get boots.

Also recommended: The Wonder Bar in Casper serving locals since the 1930's replete with ghost stories of former owners. While the customers look like a "shot and a beer" crowd, the overwhelming libation of choice was a Key Lime Pie Martini with whipped cream. Go figure. We need to get out more.

Roxy Roxborough

The Central Wyoming Fair in Casper, Wyoming, back in business after a number of years of no racing, was Roxy's pick for his "small track of the year" trip of 2016. He's only the 3rd guest writer ever featured on the McChump Racing Tour! But since McChump #2 hardly only barely qualifies as a guest, we can just as well call this guy #2. So only the 2nd guest writer ever featured!

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