Friday, August 10, 2012

Of wine, wagering, beers and beasts

Posted By on Fri, Aug 10, 2012 at 1:37 PM

Ostrich races at the Fair Grounds
  • Courtesy of the Fair Grounds.
  • Ostriches race at the Fair Grounds Aug. 18.

The thoroughbred racing season at the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots runs from Thanksgiving through the end of March, but that doesn’t mean things are quiet there in the off-season. There are other races throughout and year, and increasingly these days the historic track has been hosting more events designed to draw in people who might not yet be diehard railbirds.

The most extreme example will coming up Aug. 18 when racehorses are joined by ostriches, camels and local sports team mascots on the track, while an international beer tasting, called Tails & Ales, takes place in the upper levels of the Fair Grounds clubhouse. Abita Brewing is sponsoring the Tails & Ales, which promises craft and specialty beers from around the world. A VIP portion of the event includes special beers and food as well.

Meanwhile, down on the track, jockeys will ride ostriches and camels in races starting at 7:10 p.m. and 8:40 p.m. respectively, and mascots from the Hornets, Zephyrs, Voodoo and local schools will compete in a foot race at 7:55 p.m. There is no official wagering on these exotic animal or mascot races, though it’s a sure bet some spectators will be making their own hand-to-hand deals. There will also be more conventional races featuring quarter horses, smaller, lighter horses bred for shorter sprint races than their more famous thoroughbred relatives.

General admission is $10, and children 12 and under are admitted free. Tickets to Tails & Ales are $30 in advance or $35 at the door, with VIP tickets for $60. Details for the races and tasting are here.

Another tasting event at the Fair Ground is coming up Aug. 23, when the Metairie grocery store Dorignac’s continues its ongoing wine series at the track. This latest edition of the “Tastings at the Track” series features 35 American wines and a selection of cheeses, all presented in the clubhouse from 6-8 p.m. Tickets are cost $25 and are available in advance at Dorignac’s or at the door.

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