Of the hipódromo

I spent a fantastic Saturday afternoon and evening at the Hipoódromo Argentino de Palermo–the Buenos Aires horse racing track. It is, as per the above image, a Buenos Aires institution. It is also a perfect place to watch the old, middle and upper class men of the city interact with each other while they smoke cigarettes and drink small cups of coffee. They, like most gambling men, do a lot of yelling as the horses round the bend and gallop past the crowd of onlookers at ridiculous speeds. This makes the hipódromo a great place to learn city-specific curses and to laugh at the weird mix of horse names given to the poor animals you watch. My most recent favorite: pirata perseguido, though ScorpioNYC, pronounced phonetically be the announcer as “scorpionick”, was a close second.

Also, the balding, khaki-short-wearing Argentine men sometimes bring their grandchildren, who are more fun to bet on than the horses. They run half the length of the track as faux jockeys, whipping all the while their imaginary horses with rolled-up newspapers.

This was, actually, my second visit to the hipódromo. There is something particularly pleasant about spending time at this track in the muggy Porteño summer. It is close to the water and near one of the city’s largest parks so the winds for which Buenos Aires was named are palpable and cool. It’s also lovely that the minimum bet is so low. For two pesos, the equivalent of fifty U.S. cents, you can bet on any race. I’ve lost everything I’ve put down so far. Entrance is free.

An important fact about the hipódromo: the snack bar is terrible and overpriced. The worst hamburgers and hot dogs on earth are served at the aforementioned bar. You can’t disguise the foulness of these disasters with the salsa golf, essentially a mayonnaise-heavy Thousand Island dressing that they freely offer. The beer they sell is non-alcoholic. The ham and cheese sandwiches are an abomination. Bring your own food and beverages if ever, my dear comrades, you find yourself at the B.A. tracks.

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