Monday, October 8, 2012

How Not To Lose Money at the Track

In August, my husband Terry and I made our annual trip to the races in Saratoga, NY. We planned the trip so that we can hit the track on Friday and then celebrate our daughter, Aleta's, birthday on the weekend. Gorgeous drive and lots of fun.

We usually put aside the amount of money we are willing to lose. Sometimes we break even; sometimes we lose; sometimes we come out ahead. This year had an added dimension to the spending issue.

Of course, gas is higher this year, so that was a factor. We stay at a local hotel next to our daughter's condo, because she has no room for guests. No biggie. We eat out, so both Terry and I have a mini-vacation from cooking and cleaning.

Our drive to Pine Bush, NY, was uneventful. 500 miles and a great audio book. We arrived in time to walk across the street for a diner dinner. When in New York, it's diner food or Italian. I picked Greek at the diner. The next morning was race day. And that was the day we learned how not to lose money at the track.

We were ready to leave when Terry turned the key in the ignition. Nothing. Dead. The hotel had jumper cables and a nice guest gave us a jump. We figured we could recharge the battery on the interstate, because from Pine Bush to Saratoga is about 150 miles. Should do it. NOT.

We were about ten miles down the road when the RAV 4 began behaving badly. Like turning itself off. Like turning itself back on. Like lurching. We pulled into a gas station. The RAV 4 died without a whimper. We fussed under the hood, but nothing worked. I finally called a tow truck. The nice, fourth-generation owner of Young's Service Station took us back to Pine Bush. 

By now I'm figuring we'd blow off the races, hang at the pool and make lemonade. But, all we needed as a new battery. Off we went, two hours late. We got to the track for the last half of the races, enjoyed perfect weather and several close finishes.

Now don't ask about expenses. No, I didn't lose much at the track, but the towing and the battery more than tripled what I would have wagered. So, if you don't want to worry about losing money, pay for a dead battery and only bet on half the race card. Great day, but not expected at all.