And they’re off!

The Woodbine Racetrack used to be sort of on the outskirts of the city but is now warmly embraced by suburban sprawl to the north and east. On the west, it snuggles up against YYZ, with a fine view of the undercarriage of at least 50% of the planes landing on any given day between dawn and way past dusk. If you go to the racetrack you can diversify your betting portfolio by squandering cash on slot machines and five buck poker games, in addition to the obvious.

Just to be perfectly clear, under normal circumstances I would not be hanging around the racetrack. But as part of the Queen’s Plate weekend there are various concerts and other merriment and during this particular event Brad Paisley was a headliner. So we bought tickets. Tickets with a row number and actual seat. Or so we thought.

Our tickets said Mr. Paisley was scheduled to grace the stage at 9:30, following an opening act I had never heard of and whose name I have forgotten. I know I missed the chance to discover a new favourite country star, but in the interest of eating something other than a ninety-nine cent hotdog or $55 buffet (since the racetrack culinary offerings do not believe in a full continuum), we decided on a leisurely preconcert dinner elsewhere.

Unfortunately, you pretty much have three choices if your pending racetrack visit coincides with meal time. You can go north to Woodbridge and eat any kind of Italian you want. You can go south to the airport strip, where you can eat any kind of hotel food you want. Or, you can brave the fine collection of chain restaurants lurking amid the low-rise industrial strip malls flanking the racetrack grounds. But I had a 50% off coupon for Fionn’s so chain restaurant it was. And it was pretty much fine. I am sure once the hedges grow higher the patio will no longer have the fabulous view of the six lanes of traffic funneling people in and out of outer suburbia. It’s my fault I forgot that breaded fish on bread is rarely a good menu choice, especially when you trade the side of fries for guacamole and tortilla chips. At least I could cross carbo-loading off my to do list.

But back to Brad. The entrance to the racetrack seems to have been built to make sure that no horses can find it. And neither can our horseless carriage. But eventually after turning around a few times, the parking lot appeared. With a $25 price tag for the ‘special event’. Or free if you ignored the sign pointing towards the ‘special’ parking and just parked in the gambling section. At which point it’s getting dangerously close to Brad’s curtain time.

We migrated to the security gate, staffed by people who had no idea where the concert was actually happening. We took an educated guess and followed the crowd towards a fenced off parking lot ringed with booths selling beer, beer, beer and Brad Paisley t-shirts. And some that had a one-stop shop selling both. There was a stage set up, which was both a good and bad sign. There were no seats in evidence. I finally found someone who knew something about something. Apparently our ‘seats’ were not a thing for Friday night. They were for the horse race on Saturday.

Did I mention it had been ninety-eight degrees in the shade all day (which somehow sounds more daunting than thirty-five Celsius) and the asphalt was behaving accordingly? Our choice was to stake out an obscured spot and stand up on buckled pavement for two hours or leave in a huff. The huff prevailed.

On a more optimistic note, when we walked back to the car we collected seven discarded beer can empties from somebody’s pre-security festivities. That’s seventy cents worth of returnables to offset the $140 spent on tickets we didn’t use. Not hating the evening: priceless.

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