I am an inveterate gambler. Jason used to say that, given the chance, I’d even bet on penny gum machines! That’s why I rarely allow myself to play games of chance or anything more costly than nickel one-armed bandits or bet on horse races. But not betting does not preclude watching and the Kentucky Derby is my favorite of all contests. The three year old horses are graceful and determined and seem to don the wings of Pegasus as they make the two minute dash for the finish line. Seen in slow motion it is a ballet of God’s most beautiful creatures.

I actually did bet twice, and each time I won!  The first was shortly after we brought my son, Chris, home. My nickname (still used by some friends) is ‘Honey.’ Our neighbor, Mike, came up to tell me there was a horse running in some race or other named “Honey’s Son.” How could I resist? I bet $10 on him to win, and he did!

The second more auspicious bet ($100) was at the 1986 running of the Kentucky Derby.  I bet on the long shot, Ferdinand, (named for my favorite children’s book) who was ridden by Willy Shoemaker.   I cheered as Ferdinand, in seemingly the final few seconds, came flying up from almost last place to nose out all the other horses and win!  Having a winning ticket made the race even more exciting and enjoyable, but after that I decided to quit while I was ahead and rest on my laurels.

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This year’s Kentucky Derby was less satisfying. The track was wet and muddy and an objection raised was sanctioned by the judges, giving the title to the runner-up.  Also, without Jason here to tease about my proclivity for wanting to beat the odds, took a lot of the fun out of it for me.

There’s one other story in my gambling history that makes me laugh and cry at the same time.  I used to buy Pick 10 lottery tickets, usually with money accumulated from returning Coke bottles at the grocery store.  Every few weeks I’d fill out two or three tickets at $1 apiece.  This went on for years and once in a while I’d win a few bucks here and a few bucks there.  Then it happened: checking my numbers I had 5, then 6, then 7, then 8, then 9…I held my breath, but sadly discovered the one number I didn’t have was ‘28’.  The number I had chosen was ‘27’, one digit away and to add insult to injury, ‘28’ is my birth date!

Having nine correct numbers netted me $6,000; ten numbers would have generated $500,000! Some might say $6,000 was a nice little windfall…but compared to half a million?  I’ve sworn off gambling ever since because even a win can sometimes feel like a loss…especially when you’re one digit away from the jackpot!  Gives real meaning to that old but obviously true cliché, “close but no cigar”!

Contact Adrienne at ergosum1@comcast.net