At the Races

Damon Runyon

Saratoga Springs,

August 1.

DEAR SIR last week my boss sent me to Albany to see a fellow about some business and I got out the old can and took my wife Ethel along and after I saw the fellow we drove over here to Saratoga Springs where the horse races are going on.

Ethel ses Joe this is the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me because now I will get to see the beautiful society ladies that I read so much about in the paper. They are always in Saratoga Springs for the horseraces. I ses yes and maybe we can win a bet on them. She ses on the beautiful society ladies Joe? I ses no on the horse races.

So we went to the race track and I bought two seats in the grandstand and there was a dark skinny fellow without any coat on setting next to Ethel and after awhile she ses to him pardon me mister but where are all the beautiful society ladies? The fellow ses well girlie I do not know much about the society ladies but you are beautiful enough for me.

I leaned over and ses none of that stuff buddy. I ses you are speaking to my wife Ethel and he ses O excuse me friend but you cannot rule a guy off for trying can you? I ses well no but no more of that stuff and he ses if you go out back of the grandstand where they parade the horses before the races I guess you will find what you are looking for. That is where the society dudes hang out.

I ses much obliged buddy and he ses friend I can give you a right good thing in this next race. It is thirty to one and cannot miss. All you have to do for this information is to bet a couple of boffoes for me.

Ethel ses why Joe that is a wonderful idea. I ses thanks buddy but I have been around these places before. I ses come on Ethel lets go and when we was going she ses why Joe what is the matter with you? That gentleman was only trying to do you a favor. I ses Ethel that is no gentleman that is a tout. I ses he takes us for a couple of marks and she ses O Joe you think there is something wrong with everybody and I ses well there generally is.

She ses well I do not see why you should turn down a chance to win some money just because you are mad at that poor gentleman. I ses what makes you think I am mad at him? She ses you always get mad at everybody that ses I am beautiful. I ses Ethel I tell you the fellow is a tout and it would be just like throwing our money out the window to bet on anything he ses. She ses well all right Joe but he sounded sincere. I ses a tout has to sound sincere or he is not a tout. I ses if he knows anything about the horse races he would not be looking for somebody to bet two bucks on something for him.

Ethel ses well Joe lets forget it and go see the beautiful society ladies where he ses. So we went out back of the grandstand and they were walking a lot of horses around under the trees and a bunch of fellows and dames were watching them and I ses well Ethel I guess those are your beautiful society ladies. She ses why Joe I am surprised. I ses what are you surprised at? She ses why they are not so beautiful. They are not as beautiful as the horses. I ses well maybe we are not seeing any of the real good ones and she ses another thing Joe look at those hats.

I ses what is the matter with the hats? Ethel ses why I would not wear them to a dog fight. Half of them are out of style and some of those ladies look as if they had put their dresses on in the dark. I ses well I do not see anything wrong with putting your dresses on in the dark if you get them on and she ses why Joe if I dressed like that you would not go out with me anywhere. I wonder where their jewels are?

I ses what jewels? Ses she the jewels that beautiful society ladies are supposed to wear. I ses well Ethel I guess they have got them locked up at home. I ses I have seen some fellows around here that would make me lock up the coal if I lived in Saratoga Springs and she ses well I am awfully disappointed Joe. I thought they would all have on the Hope diamond. I ses what is that? She ses O it is a diamond as big as a football and I ses how could they all wear one diamond at the same time? Ethel ses well I mean I thought they would all have some that big.

I ses well now you go back to the grandstand and I will go to the betting ring and find a fellow from Brooklyn I know who works for Tim Mara the bookmaker and maybe he will give me a good tip on something in this race. I ses I would like to win our expenses here. Ethel ses all right Joe but be awfully careful because you know we cannot afford to lose any money.

So I went to the betting ring and the fellow I know told me to bet on a horse that he said would walk in and I got so excited about what he told me that I bet all the money I had and that was twenty dollars. Then I watched the race from down by the rail because I did not want Ethel to know I was betting all my money and worry her but the horse did not walk in. He ran away back somewhere and I waited quite a while before going to see Ethel and tell her the bad news and I was glad I had given her four dollars that morning because I just remembered we was about out of gas for the old can.

When I finally got back to her she was jumping up and down and screaming and she had money in both hands and I ses Ethel have you gone crazy? She ses Yes Joe almost. That gentleman who wanted you to bet for him took my four dollars and put it on the horse that just came in and he brought back sixty-two dollars and we divided it up and do you know what Joe?

I ses no what? She ses why the gentleman ses I am more beautiful when I am excited than ever. Do you think so Joe? I ses in spades sweets in spades.