Transitions commence new adventures. Make 'em last…

Korean Handicapping

Horse Statue at Seoul Racetrack

After meeting up with my friend Fernanda, getting my camera lens fixed, perusing through a large, random flea market, and then grabbing some tasty Vietnamese food, I suggested the idea that since it was a sunny, Saturday afternoon, that we should head to Seoul’s only horse-racing track since we were fairly close and it was very probable that there would be some horse races to watch and perhaps make some small, fun bets. Fernanda was definitely game, therefore, we took the chance to see if there were actually any races, and to our delight, there were.

After buying a Korean horse-racing program for 1000won ($1) and the entrance fee for 800won ($0.80), we were definitely delighted on how cheap it all was. Upon entering, I snapped a shot of this horse statue and was somewhat perplexed on what it might mean, any ideas?

Can anyone interpret what this horse status means?

Fernanda and I then walked past the small arena where all the horses are first revealed before each race and I was quickly reminded of that many great times spent at racetracks in the USA and hoped luck would be by my side.

Showing off the horses

Well, it seemed I wasn’t the only one with the same idea of spending the afternoon at the racetrack and hoping for luck; it was definitely a full-house!

Full-house on Raceday

After finding a place to sit to where we could review the race program with ease, we quickly realized that the race descriptions and statistics were all in Korean. This was to be expected, but what ultimately threw me off guard was that all the horse handicapping statistics and numbers were very difficult to decipher among all the Korean lettering.

Uh, a little help please…

First thing was first, I whipped out my cellular phone and began using the Korean/English dictionary program installed on the phone in hopes to understand some of the vital statistics needed to make educated bets. Only a few words could be quickly translated to “handicapping” language that I could understand. For example, the word “목” was located quite a bit amid all the statistics and I was able to find out that this applicably translated to “neck.” This helped, but only very slightly. Of course, I was indeed tempted to ask a complete stranger for assistance, but I couldn’t positively discern anyone that would have been willing to help me understand what specific words might have meant in “handicapping language” as everyone appeared seriously focused and in-tune to their own handicapping guide. Fernanda was even bedazzled by the arrangement of all the Korean lettering and numbers organized everywhere…

Fernanda and our handicapping neighbor trying to decide what horse to choose.

Well, despite my wealth of handicapping experience, it didn’t mean squat at this point due to the fact that I was unable to fully translate and decipher the statistic sheets. Therefore, I decided to rely on only the information I could decipher and something just called plain, dumb luck. Well, it paid off on the first race of the day!

Boo-ya! My number 7 takes 1st by an entire horse length!

Money in da bank! 

Well, money in the bank would had been the case if I actually had bet on the horse, but I didn’t have enough time to figure out and translate the betting slip. Even though South Korea is super savvy technological powerhouse, computerized horse-betting machines still have not been implemented, and the betting set-up still remains of something that one might find at a horse track back the 1980’s.

Therefore, as I examined and attempted to translate the betting slip a bit more, even attempting to make a bet with one of the many betting tellers after standing in a long line, there was a problem with my bet sheet. Due to my lack in communicating Korean and super impatient people standing behind me, I decided to let it be and just make spectator bets with Fernanda as my witness. I decided that next time I would come with a greater understanding after having translated what is needed to make educated bets. Yes, there will for sure be a next time!

During the second race, my horse came in 2nd having only been beat by a nose; it was a tough loss. Then on the third race I chose the #2 horse and then went to watch the hoards of people trying to place their bets with just two minutes before race time; it was a zoo!

The mad rush to bet with two minutes until race time

I then went to the 2nd floor to watch my horse win in the last few strides; it was very exciting and indeed fun watching all the handicappers squirm and shout.

Boo-ya! My number 2 horse comes in from behind and takes 1st. One other handicapper with his hands up amid the immense crowd shares my joy!

Wow! Within the first three races of the day, I already had two winning 1st place bets and one 2nd place bet with Fernanda as my only witness. If only…

Well, no matter. After enjoying some races I thought it best to snap a few shots of Korean Handicapping in action that I thought was very interesting and also a bit comical.

Cigarette & Pen Cap in mouth – A normal site to see

It must be emphasized that every specific location within the race park was utilized for an individual handicapping space.

Handicapping in elevator terminals

Handicapping on the floor with no shoes

Handicapping next to the escalators

Handicapping on stairwells

Handicapping in the MIDDLE

Trust me, handicappers were everywhere imaginable. Fernanda and I also walked by many folks that appeared that they couldn’t take it any more…

 Which horse do I choose?!?

Ha, I will definitely return…

2 comments on “Korean Handicapping

  1. fernanada
    May 29, 2011

    SWEET! love it, thanks for the ride !

  2. Gavin
    May 29, 2011

    loved the post — really good fun must take myself down to some races when I get back!

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This entry was posted on May 29, 2011 by in South Korea and tagged , , , , , , , .

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“Experience, travel – these are as education in themselves.”

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