I went to Ft. Lauderdale for the Breeders Cup horse races at Gulfstream Park (actually in Hallandale, FL). It was fun just being there. I’d never been to south Florida before. Southwest had given me a free round-trip ticket for some reason (I don’t remember why), and I was taking advantage of it.

How’d I do on the races? Well, I bet a total of $45 and won $35, so ended up $10 down. Not bad.

I didn’t stick around for all the races. There’s a half hour between each race, and I got bored. I guess if I’d had a better seat I’d be more inclined to stay put, but I had bleacher seats along the first turn, where you can’t see the races very well. Plus, I’d forgotten my sunblock and they weren’t selling hats (which I had assumed they would). With my fair skin, I have to stay out of the sun if at all possible. After just a couple races, I could already feel my skin burning.

So I retreated to the ground-level betting tents, studied the program and the horses’ past performances, and used the AmTote computerized system to place my bets ahead of time. The only drawback there is that you can’t wait until the last minute to see what sort of odds you’ll be getting.

Anyway, with bets placed, I got my hand stamped, left the track and drove 30 miles or so down to Miami. As I said, I’d never been to "F-L-A" before and just wanted to take a look around. Unfortunately, I-95 was under construction a few miles outside of Miami and the normal five lanes were down to one. So, I sat in traffic for about an hour! Initially, when I saw the traffic jam ahead, I took the next exit into North Miami. But the neighborhood was not good [I have a bad habit of finding "the "hood" wherever I go], and I’d heard of too many tourists recently being mugged and/or shot and killed in Miami. So, I got back on the Interstate and sat through traffic.

Once through the traffic jam, still a little bit north of Miami, I cut over to Miami Beach and drove down the famous (for Jimmy Buffett fans) Highway A1A through the touristy spots, including South Beach (the “art deco district”). It was cool. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to stop. I just stayed in my car and drove, cutting back over to Miami-proper before heading back north on the Palmetto Expressway to Hallandale and the Breeders Cup.

I got back in time for the last race, The Classic, which was won by Pat Day and Cat Thief. As soon as Cat Thief won, I knew my girlfriend Tara would kill me for not betting on him. Throughout the year on the televised races, she would always pick him to win. She just liked the name (probably because she wishes someone would steal my cat, but that’s another story). I had considered placing a bet on him for her, but never did. His odds were 8-1, so my usual $5 bet would have won us $40! Oh well.

My hotel in Ft. Lauderdale Beach, the Days Inn – Oceanfront, was right on the beach! Well, okay, there was a street between it and the beach. But still, it was a great location, though I can’t really recommend it. The walls are thin and there was some damn woman (probably a hooker) walking back and forth on the concrete sidewalk a floor or two above me all night long in her high-heels.

I was glad when my alarm went off at 4 AM since I couldn’t sleep anyway. I returned the rental car to Hertz (another minor misadventure all by itself because their terminal is not on the airport grounds like all the other rental companies); caught my 6:25 AM flight; and was back home in Nashville by 8:30 AM.

And that’s about it. All in all, like I said, it was fun just being in South Florida, if only for a day.

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