Thursday, September 10, 2009
String Racetrack Set To Close, Regulars Grow Nostalgic
A ban set by voters in the King County area has regulars counting down the very last days of string racing at Longacres Park, the very first live string racing track in Washington State, set to close Sunday.
Opponents of string racing said racing was ‘inhumane’ and abusive to the string and cited numbers supporting too many balls of string had been put down as a result.
“To me it’s so crazy," said a track insider. “I know personally that the string and yarn are treated first class. There’s no abuse here."
Carob said “…this is my life.”
In string racing, bets are made and when the starting gate opens, balls of string come careening out onto the track. Cats clench their paws to the rail, feeling the raw horsepower of the string as it hurls down the track, furlong after furlong.
Jaws clench, tickets are clutched, hair is pulled, peanuts fly. Seven balls of string, roll around the turn and into the stretch and the regulars crowd the rail.
“I love this place,” said Janie, a 13-year-old, spayed, Domestic Short Hair as she put down her Daily Racing Form. “I will miss it.
Track insiders say the string is treated ‘first class’ and never abused
On race days, patrons walked in circles, scanning their programs, and muttering to themselves, looking for a winner amidst all the numbers. “I’ll take 20 to win on the Yellow and Red Cotton Blend in the third,“ one cat said to a teller.
“I love the live races," said Carob, a 16-year-old, neutered, Chocolate-Point Siamese, who lost his job at a steel mill last November. “Always have. This is my life. There is nothing like the thrill of the track."
Some cats at the track are middle-management dads, who sneak away from work at lunch hoping for a spot of luck. Others are Vietnam vets, cats who are unemployed, bored, who meet others for a beer, hoping for that one ‘long shot’ ball of string who comes in at 90-1 odds.
Boingo, at 20, is one of the oldest track regulars
“This place is my home, I love it; the smells, the thrills, the people,” said Jasper, a 17-year-old, neutered, Domestic Short Hair, who traveled all the way by bus from Lynnwood to see the races. “It is what I do every day. I have no idea what I will do with myself now.”
Sharyn Thoma-Guay reporter-at-large
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