Gran Premio Republica Argentina
Wandering the streets of Palermo in Buenos Aires one Thursday afternoon I happened upon a horse race taking place at the Hipodromo Argentino de Palermo. After watching from outside the fence I decided to see if I could get in. To my surprise the event was free to the public. And it was not just any regular race. This was the biggest one of them all. Welcome to the races.
As I entered, a man was hawking programs for the race. I picked up my copy and made my way through the masses up to the edge of the track. It was 1 in the afternoon on a Thursday and the stands were full with more than 50,000 people. This is Argentina’s Kentucky Derby. Before the race started two skydrivers jumped from military aircraft and floated to the racetrack with an Argentine flag the size of house in tow. The fans went nuts.
The jockeys were introduced over the loudspeaker as they warmed up their horses. As the riders made their way to the starting gate, the crowds at the betting offices were buzzing. I’d never bet at a horse race before so I threw down a few pesos on a couple of the horses. With my bets in hand I leaned over the track and waited until the horses came down the home stretch to cheer them on. I usually cheered for the underdog. Not only for the bigger prize if I won but no one wants the champ to win all the time
There were so many horses in each race that the ground shook nearby as they charged past. The announcer on the sound system got louder and faster as the horses came to the finish line. Mystery Train, an Argentine horse, crossed the line the victory. Unfortunately, I picked another horse to win, but I only lost $5 and left feeling lucky to have stumbled upon the event in the first place.
The Hipodromo in Palermo Buenos Aires has races several days a week and all are free to go see. The track and especially the stables are worth just having a look at. Check the calendar for more information.