Strait To Plate

Last time I went to Woodbine I won $1,000 on the quarter slots. That was about 10 years ago. So I suppose I was due for another win on Sunday when my wife and I went to the 153rd running of The Queen’s Plate at the big Etobicoke track.

This was my first trip to the prestigious race and there was no shortage of interesting photo ops. The horses, the hats….well, that was pretty much it.

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I wore jeans and a short-sleeve shirt. I figured I should at least feel comfortable when I lose my well-earned money betting on the races, unlike this well-dressed gentleman below.

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Here’s Eurico Rosa da Silva coming in from the track after riding seven-year-old Smokey Fire to a win in race number five. The Jim Dandy Stable gelding brought in $37.50 for the win.

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In the eighth race, Ramon Dominguez rides German 10-year-old Musketier to the lead and the win in a photo finish with Simmard.

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Woodbine’s setup allows race fans to get up close to the riders and horses prior to race time. The horses are walked about out front of the building and then riders mount and parade by on their way to the post.

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The main grandstands were mostly reserved seating, so I positioned myself as high as I could trackside near the finish line. I focused mostly on taking pictures this day, so I only brought enough money for a drink or two with my wife. I felt the last $10 in my pocket calling out a number. “Four,” it said. “Four.” Even though I didn’t have a race guide and didn’t know a horse from a gelding, I picked Canyon Farms’ number 4 horse, Strait of Dover, starting from the rail. “$10 on number four to win.”

Here’s a shot of my pick running down the stretch, winning the race leading wire to wire.

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Took my wife down to the ol’ ballpark to see some baseball on Sunday. It’s a nice adventure to get there: a little bit of the 401; a little bit of the subway, and a little bit of walking. Sure beats parking close by and paying through the nose.

Rajai Davis comes by to say hello during warm-ups just prior to the national anthems.

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I remember the first ball game my Dad took me to when I was young. It was at Exhibition Stadium, and I remember walking up the crowded, circular concrete access to a corridor where I could see only bright sunlight beaming through. Then I walked out to the seats: the fabulous expanse of space, the greenest of green astroturf, and the cacophony of thousands of voices – all have resonated in my memories of that day.

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I’m not sure if my wife ever had that feeling. She never played baseball as a child growing up in China, so I think seeing inside the SkyDome may have been a different experience for her. And yes, it’s the SkyDome. Technically, it’s the Rogers Centre, but that sounds like a concert venue rather than a professional football and baseball monstrosity.

Jose Bautista warms up with some stretching before the game.

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…and Davis takes in one of the first outs in the bottom of the first….

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And in the bottom of the second inning, Edwin Encarnacion gets hit by a pitch….

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That must have really hurt….

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Here’s Colby Rasmus getting his picture taken by me, with my Canon, and by the Nikon ad out in centre field…

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One of the better names in the major leagues – West Palm Beach, Florida native Jarrod Saltalamacchia takes a big swing pinch-hitting in the bottom of the ninth.

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