Hawthorne Racecourse, Stickney, IL, various dates, 2017

Montana State Fairgrounds, Great Falls, MT, July 28-29-30, 2017

Yeah, what th' what, chump.

Somehow a whole year slipped by, and I hardly went racing at all. Got just a couple programs to show for it, and hardly any pictures. But that doesn't mean there wasn't a little fun. And some racing.

Hawthorne, Spring

First off, I went down to the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne. Been a long time. I expected to find no one there. But I was wrong. The place was packed! Maybe had something to with the fact they were given away a couple $1 trillon prizes (or something in that neighborhood), which I'll admit was part of my own motivation for going down there that day.

Somebody won them! It wasn't me! But it was still a fun day at the track with a nice, energetic crowd.

Then I went down there again another day to cash in some of my reward points, and for some reason took one of the few racing pictures I took all season ... of a harness horse. Just jogging. Don't ask, I have no idea.

Nothing, Early Summer

Never even made it to Arlington even once in 2017, which was the first for that in like forever.

Montana State Fair, Late July

So the big racing extravaganza of the year boiled down to three (3) exciting days at the Montana State Fair in late July. The Sat. and Sun. was a sort of KGs event, when Roxy (and Alise) arrived for their year's podunk slumming, and Dave T. came down again from Vancouver. A reasonably good time was had by all, despite the beastly heat. (It's Great Falls. It's Fair Week. It's hot.) Thank goodness we had the super-deluxe reserved rickety "box" tables up top in the shade, with the every bit as deluxe metal folding chairs. Good table service, though, and an interesting selection of beers ($4). Not to mention a selection of the finest fair junk food from the midway out back of the grandstand. Though even with all these creature comforts I don't recall any of us making the big bucks handicapping. But we did spin lots of stories. Marvelous Saturday eve. dinner out thanks to Roxy at the best place Great Falls has to offer, which isn't much. And for the same reason doubt Alise found much high fashion shopping when she was out and about, unless maybe she was in the market for western wear.

Out of that whole weekend the one thing that stuck in my mind was the Sunday night, after the races, when we were considering a place to have a few drinks. My suggestion to Roxy was the Cowboys Bar, a tiny Great Falls institution with an excellent western/cowboys and local racing museum inside, right across the street from the fairgrounds and real close to where Roxy was staying. But by the time I arrived in the motel parking lot, Roxy was already headed back from the Cowboys. "Place is shoulder to shoulder", says he. "There's some poor guy in there playing the guitar, and the crowd is in an ugly mood and about to start throwing chairs at him." We decided maybe a quieter bar.

To this day I still wonder what became of that poor strummer, and if the chairs ever flew.

Hawthorne, Fall

Then I went to Hawthorne a time or two again in the Fall, encountering far more typical crowds than on Illinois Derby Day. Like me and 50 of my closest friends. It's so quiet there now.

And that, my friends, was the McChump Racing Tour 2017. Pathetic.

Here's a couple lonely 2011 pictures from Hawthorne. The one from inside the glass about says it all.

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