And…They’re Off!

As you may have heard, I lost my entire fortune in the Great Depression of 2022. Yet, like most tycoons, I plan to start over again.

If I can do it once, I can do it again.

Money is so easy for me. Love too. Children, that’s another story. Children actually eat money. It’s part of their daily diet, like lollipops.

Meanwhile, the death toll from two weeks of puppy-sitting a difficult golden retriever, while my daughter eats boiled crabs at every joint on the Atlantic Seaboard:

–47 socks

–6 flipflops

–14 shoes

–All the toilet paper in the house

–2 street-taco tortillas

–1 remote

–A big plate of lasagna

–My wallet

–My sanity

She’s a lovely dog, really, with honey for hair, five stomachs and a huge and hungry heart. If White Fang is Tolstoy (distant and remote), Penny Laine is Will Ferrell (impulsive and a little stoned).

I swear, she does these comic double-takes that are pure Ferrell.

In fact, if you go eye to eye with Penny Laine, put your noggin right up against her noggin, in that cuppy little indentation in her forehead where her brain would otherwise be — if she actually had a brain — you feel like you are looking straight into Will Ferrell’s pinwheeling pupils.

How weird is that. And I’ve signed up for two months of this, as my daughter eats buttered lobster in Delaware, chasing it with a cold lager.

Not mad. Just envious. Before I lost my vast fortune, I used to love lobster and lager too.

In related food news, Penny Laine has eaten 97% of my socks. Of course, in California, you don’t really need socks till November. So, yeah, I’m scrambling for socks, knowing that a harsh LA winter is just around the corner.

Summer me…winter me, as the old lyric goes.

Spiritually, I’m the sum total of a lot of old lyrics from the ’60s and ’70s. Hold them in my left bosom, like Scripture.

Speaking of bosoms, Smartacus and I passed a pumpkin patch on the way to San Diego the other day. It was a storybook pumpkin field along the 5 – the crop oversized and orange — the kind you’d see in a Charlie Brown cartoon.

“Pun’kins!!!” I yelled, as if spotting God on a motorcycle. I find life is better when you’re easily amused.

Happy me, summer me,
Winter me, always be mine…

Smartacus and I were headed to Del Mar Race Track, which I use as a sort of brokerage firm. This is where I will likely launch my next financial empire after the recent economic collapse.

Seriously, I paid $240 for $100 worth of groceries the other day — it’s as if I’m laundering cash. Even the Milk of Magnesia jumped (I now mix it with my Scotch at lunch).

So, in the fourth race, I bet a longshot to show, and make 44 bucks; that’s my new investment strategy – figuring out a longshot that’s due and betting him or her to show. For now, I’m staying away from trifectas or any of the so-called exotics.

Over the years, I’ve lost several mortgage payments on trifectas, because once, a very long time ago, when I was a young sportswriter with no money for dinner, I hit a big trifecta at Gulfstream Park in Florida. I’ve been not hitting big trifectas ever since.

Now, wiser yet still desperate, I bet longshots to finish third.

“I’d bet you to win though,” I tell Smartacus.

“What’s that mean?” he asked.

“It’s an affirmation,” I said. “A token of my faith in you.”

He shrugged, as young men will.

We spend the afternoon with Verge and his sidekick Uncle Wheels, prowling Del Mar, people-watching and admiring the race horses as they stutter-step in the paddock. Always had a soft spot for bluebloods with tiny ankles.

By the way, Del Mar is really America’s most-magnificent track, perched in paradise, a mile from the sea. In the olden days, they used to take the horses through a tunnel to the beach, to work them on the sand. If you’re studying marketing, please make note of that: They took these chestnut horses – these aloof supermodels of sports – to frolic on the beach. Think of the photo ops. Better than a Vogue cover.

Anyway, by the time the day is done, I’ve made enough to cover gas and a burger on our way home.

You know, there are still a few things that give me chills: Smoked duck. Japanese gin. The murmur of small children during church.

Line up enough of these little pleasures – ratta-tat-tat – all in a row: a kid, a sidekick, a day at the races…

And suddenly, you’re a billionaire.


The break in the weather makes me hopeful we can rally the Happy Hour Hiking Club again soon. Plans in the works for a Fryman Canyon encore in October. Stay tuned for details. In the meantime, need some handsome gin glasses as a holiday gift? Or maybe a funny book? Please check out, which is like a yard sale without the ammo and broken rakes. Cheers!

6 thoughts on “And…They’re Off!

  1. Completely delightful and smile inducing. My sympathies on your dog sitting plight. I once thought about getting a Golden puppy until someone who raises them warned me that it’s like having a two year old in the house…forever. Or Will Ferrrell.

  2. Heartily concur with Carole – multiple lolz (I worked in kids TV so I’m a master of the way they speak; if I’d worked for anyone but Disney I’d have a fleet of horses at Del Mar and my own box into which I would beckon you after telling my security team you only looked deranged) and a continuous smile throughout. Yes, an early-in-life trifecta win is one of the worst thing that can happen to a person, unless they have your gift for turning misfortune into comic gold. Thanks for starting off my day with a beautiful visit to Where the turf meets the surf.

  3. …This has such lovely autumnal tone, glowing with warmth and breezily brilliant. I can almost hear the post announcer echos from aach race at Del Mar floating up over the coastal hills to me, and this year the feeling of the imagined sound seemed tinged with nostalgia, as if the turbulent Summer world grinding down all around it was passing ithe track and it’s era by like a swift river does an island. So many of the learnings a young man needs are on a campus like Del Mar, and so many never have a chance to learn them. How fortunate your son is to live with a lover of islands. So is the dog, socks being the surf one boards to get to the shore of maturity. An island man learns early on how to surf.. Penny Laine is “boarding with The Big Kahuna.

  4. Chris- the next time you go check out Red’s Tracton’s. They use to be in L.A., by the long gone Fedco. Known for their prime rib, green goddess salad dressing, & large baked potato. But you may need more winnings than long shot to show 😉🥰😋‼️

  5. The now deceased owner of the Del Rae in Pico Rivera use to race his horses at Dal Mar. Pictures are still up at the restaurant due to sons taking over. Absolutely great expensive food.

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