Photo: Eclipse Sportswire - Bob Mayberger
When racing buddy, Tony Bada Bing, sent me an email recently, I knew it was the start of something big. Tony, in his infinite wisdom, laid it on the line. In essence, he told me that it’s time for us to get our arses over to the other side of pond for some fantastic racing in Europe. A lifelong ambition of mine, it almost boggles the mind how or why I’ve never moved this top of the bucket list odyssey from the must-do to the oh-baby-I-did-it side of the list. Tony, and I went back and forth with a couple of emails about the logistics of it all, but most importantly, we were both very sincere in our belief that we will get this done. The big question then became between our top two choices; Ascot or the Arc?
There is plenty to consider in deciding which destination will become the initial foray into European racing for both of us. So much so, that I've already started the all-important process with a pros & cons list...
Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
Pros: The Arc has history on its side, at least for me. It’s the race I consider to be the most important outside of the United States, and I always have. I used to watch this race as a kid with my Dad, back when it was on American television, and the memories will never be lost. A race slogan for the Arc, It's not a race, it's a monument, rings true for me … Longchamp is in Paris, this makes for a good vacation not only for racing wackos like me and Tony, but it also should provide a memorable time for the whole family … Food. Yes, I know I am thinking with my stomach again, but in comparison of French cuisine versus that of England, Paris wins going away.
Cons: They speak French in France. It’s been a long time since Mrs. Recinello’s French class in high school. I’m more than rusty, I’ve got large holes in the foundation. Bada Bing sounds no better. If we go, I want to make at least a college try to converse in the native language … The timing of the Arc, in October, and so close to the Breeders’ Cup is not ideal. Neither for us working stiffs, nor for the school aged kids we plan on bringing.
Pros: While the Arc is the one European race, more than any other, that I would like to see, the Royal Ascot meeting at Ascot offers up a full smorgasbord of excellent racing over five days. I’m certain the wives wouldn’t let us go all five days, but Tony and I could pick and choose the best three days to be at the track … The timing of the meeting is perfect. The kids are out of school, and we all should be able to get away from work for a week in the middle of June … I mentioned sentimental attachments to the Arc, but they have been racing at Ascot since 1711. The history alone, is humbling … We can speak English to the natives while I wear a top hat and tails, something I’ve oddly always wanted to do.
Cons: Should I settle for anything less than the Arc for my first European racing experience? … The food … Would I look good in a top hat and tails?