To a racing fan, a race track is a most appropriate vacation destination. Sports writer Andrew Beyer of The Washington Post has these favorites:
Like most horse players, I tend to keep my nose in the Daily Racing Form most of the time and remain oblivious to my physical surroundings. But not even the most hard-core gambler could fail to be moved by the splendor of Hialeah in Miami. It is the most beautiful race track in America; to me, it is the most beautiful place anywhere.
A racing fan at Hialeah takes his seat in a grandstand covered with bougainvillea and decorated with flower boxes. He looks out onto a track with a background of royal palms, over an infield lake populated by Hialeah's famous colony of flamingos. He may also choose to sit in the expansive area by the paddock, amidst palm trees and fountains and statues.
Despite all the social problems and demographic changes that have affected the neighborhood around Hialeah, the track itself remains a oasis in the midst of these problems, a tribute to its founder Joseph Widener, who set out to build the grandest race track on earth--and succeeded.
When the Hialeah season ends in the winter, I can start looking forward to my second-favorite place: Saratoga. If the Hialeah track is a drastic contrast with the city that surrounds it, Saratoga Race Track and Saratoga Springs, N.Y., are perfectly harmonious--both of them throwbacks to a bygone, more genteel era.
The track has many charms--horses are saddled under the elm trees in the open paddock--but what makes Saratoga so special is its social life. Each August, the racing community--owners, breeders, jockies, trainers and horseplayers--takes over the town, and we can all enjoy four weeks of total immersion.