As half of my two readers know, I am a big fan of The Score, Chicago sports radio 670 am, particularly the weekday afternoon show, Boers & Bernstein, which airs from 2-6 pm Monday through Friday. All summer long they have been taking their show on the road and broadcasting live from establishments in the Chicagoland area and giving away tickets to concerts and sports events. On Friday June 8th, the boys were going to be at beautiful Arlington Park in Arlington Heights. Due to the proximity of this location to where I live and work, and due to the fact that I can take extended lunch breaks, I decided I would try to make it out there for a few hours to meet the guys I listen to every day, as well as do a little wagering.
Over the course of my listenership to the station (started listening 9 or 10 years ago in the car with my Dad, but only started listening regularly on my own 5 years ago or so), I have developed odd “friendships” with people at the station, both on and off the air, through calling in and via internetting like email and MySpace. These relationships have given me interesting insight into certain aspects of the station and the business, and also given me extra incentive to attend the live broadcasts, as I am normally a pretty reserved person who does not command much attention in a crowd.
Dan & Terry were giving out V.I.P. packages to their broadcast at Arlington throughout the week via text messaging, a medium at which I happen to excel, and on Wednesday I actually managed to win one of them. Never having won something from the radio after numerous attempts, I was fairly excited. The package included 2 free admissions to the park and a parking pass, admission to the special “VIP Section,” as well as “free food and drink.” I was fairly excited. I called up my brother Alex and invited him to tag along, as I know he likes the show, as well as gambling. Since he also is part of the family business, he agreed to go to work with me after the track, which would allow us to stay for an extra race or two without having to sacrifice a late night at work, something noone likes on a Friday.
When Friday rolled around, I was excited. Ever since the baby, I have not had many opportunities to get out and have some fun other than the occasional golf outing. Not only would I be drastically shortening my workday to go see my guys broadcast live, but I would even have some cash to gamble with!
After some initial confusion as to where the Score was set up at, we made our way to the grandstand where the broadcast area was setup amidst the wooden benches that line the homestretch. The “VIP Section” was just a roped off area of about 10 benches which we received dorky green wristbands to allow us admittance to, and the “free food and drink” turned out to be pizza and canned soft drinks that had been sitting out in the sun. While that was a bit of a let down (I am a big fan of free things), the perfect weather and wonderful ambiance at Arlington more than made up for it. Plus…come on…I am at the track with my bro on a Friday afternoon instead of at work scrubbing shitters! Can’t complain!
By the time we got situated and settled in, Alex, who had about $100 more to gamble with than I, got right to placing bets. It was about 5 minutes until first post, and I decided not to rush it. I had $23 to bet, and I figured I would sit out the first race and use the time to try and decipher the cryptic thoroughbred program, which is much more confusing than the harness programs. Since I did not have the opportunity to have 2 or 3 bets in each race, I wanted to try and gather as much information as possible. I wanted to bet smarter.
After the 4th I was out of money, and Alex was up about $40 or 50. Some of his winnings were attributable directly to Dan & Terry. The 3rd race was sponsored by WSCR and the Boers & Bernstein show. Not long after we had gotten there, Dan mentioned (on-air) that they liked a horse named Salty Talker. In the book he was listed at 20-1, but by race time he was down to 10 or 11, I think. I put him in an exacta and Alex put $4 across the board on him. Salty Talker ended up winning that race, and he picked up a nice little payday. Had the damn 6 horse not faded at the end, I would have hit that exacta and pocketed a couple hundred bucks or so myself. Anyway, after realizing I was busted, Alex leant me $10, and I actually managed to turn that sawbuck into $23.40 in the 5th and 6th races, which (technically) put me up 40 cents at the end of the day…as I arrived at the track with $23 in my pocket and left with $23.40…realistically, though I was down $9.60, but Alex was feeling generous and didn’t ask for his ten bucks back.
Right before 5th race and during a commercial break, I went up to Terry to thank him for the tip on Salty Talker. I also introduced myself to Dan a few minutes later. It was nice to talk to the guys who keep me entertained every afternoon in person. Shared my old experiences at harness tracks with Terry and Dan recommended that we join Costco for cheap diapers and wipes, but after not seeing Pampers on their website, we will probably just stick to Target.
Alex and I left after the 6th, our pockets negligably heavier than they were when we arrived. More important than winning a little scratch, though, was getting out of work on a gorgeous Friday afternoon and spending some time in the sun watching the ponies run.
After finishing up at work, I returned home where the wife and I made our sausage soup. Here is the recipe.
Fill up your largest stock pot with 3 boxes of chicken stock, a bag of lentils and large can of diced tomatoes. Put the spurs to it and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and add in a bag of shredded carrots. While the stock is heating up, brown 3 lbs of Italian sausage in a large skillet with a little olive oil. Once browned, add in 2 bay leaves, 6 sprigs of fresh rosemary, salt, pepper, and as much hot hungarian paprika as your senses will allow. Add in 2 medium chopped onions and 4-6 cloves of finely chopped/minced garlic. Once onions have softened and reduced a bit, add in 4 gilled and chopped portobello mushroom caps. Give the mushrooms some time and then add in 2 peeled baking potatoes, chopped into 1/4-1/2″ cubes. Give the whole mixture a few minutes to meld before adding it to the simmering stock. Bring back to a boil, then reduce back to a simmer. Simmer for as long as you like, stirring occasionally. About 5-10 minutes before you plan to serve, add in some kale or swiss chard, rinsed and removed from the stalk. Add it on top of the soup and let it wilt before stirring it in.
Serve in a bowl with a cold glass of crisp beer and pumpernickel or rye bread.