A seed was planted in me. At a young age my grandfather instilled an appreciation for the sport of animal racing. There’s an intelligence coupled with chance that’s akin to playing poker.
Fort Erie Race Track welcomed us this past week. I was excited as it was my first time watching a true classic horse race with a jockey. I’ve seen greyhounds multiple times during the years and I’ve watched harness racing a few times.
Pulling into the parking lot, I was struck by how large everything was. The parking lot was enormous and the building reminded me of an airport. Walking up to the front I was pleased to see they had a small Farmers Market set up. Happily, we purchased a few items and ran them back out into the car.
The grounds at Fort Erie Race Track are so beautiful! The dining rooms at 2 and 3 stories high offer the best view, letting you watch the horses race around the lush plants and ponds. There is outdoor seating close to the same elevation that will let you take in the view as well. If dining or sitting outside isn’t your thing, they also offer plenty of air-conditioned spots to watch the races.
Live racing runs from May 6th until October 30th. Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays are the standard schedule but October will have some Wednesdays and Saturdays open. Parking is free and there are several food options on-site including dining rooms or standard concession items.
My grandfather was known for two things: telling stories and the race track. Often spending weekends at my grandparents, my brother and I would accompany them to the races. Our local racetrack in Missouri didn’t have horses so we would watch greyhounds. Grandma would bet on horses from televisions pumping out races from distant tracks but grandpa was solely focused on the dogs. The thing I’ll always remember is how my grandfather treated racing as a puzzle. He’d buy a program the moment we entered the facility and sit down to study it. Pulling out his pen, he’d start making notes in the columns and sorting out who had the best odds of winning.
They would hand my brother and me around $10 to bet for the day. Like kids are known to do, we rationed out the money trying to make it last as long as possible. Peering over grandpa’s shoulder we’d pick out the name that sounded funniest and bet on that dog, usually only betting on the dog to ‘show’ (place either 1st, 2nd or 3rd) so we’d get to keep betting. Surprisingly this method was pretty effective.
There have been stories that the Fort Erie Race Track is closing. There are also stories of hope that it may be saved. I don’t know what is for certain but I do hope that it remains open for the years to come. I have the memories of my grandpa that I have because of racing. I am sure that there is a little kid out there in Niagara who is experiencing the same thing with their grandparent right now. And I truly hope that 10 years from now the pattern continues on here. I choose to think positive.
Please get out and enjoy Fort Erie Race Track, whether it closes this year or in a hundred years. Make some memories with loved ones and experience something that our region has enjoyed for the last 115 years.
To learn more about Fort Erie Race Track, please click here.