LEXINGTON, Ky. — The day after the vice-presidential debate in nearby Danville, hundreds of Kentuckians gathered at the Keeneland track in Lexington to watch thoroughbreds race, a hobby that consumed the locals much more than any political happening.
People who bet on horses in Kentucky are well-versed in the ins and outs of racing: the trainers, the owners, each horse’s history of wins (or losses), everything down to the soil on the track. If pressed, bettors can also come up with a pretty good idea of who might win the presidential race.
“If I was betting, I would bet on Obama,” said one of the Keeneland track doctors, who didn’t want to be named. He wore a pair of small binoculars around his neck and explained his series of complicated bets that day to BuzzFeed (“I’ve been doing this for 35 years,” he said. “Overall, I’ve come out ahead.”)
“When I bet on a horse, I bet on who I think will be the winner,” the doctor said. “But I’ll be rooting for Romney. It’s a close race, though. It’s close and getting closer.”
The doctor had watched the debate and thought Biden was much too “hot under the collar.”
“He humiliated his opponent by laughing at him,” he said.
A middle-aged Lexington man named Will Miller, like the track doctor, was standing near the TVs with a betting sheet in hand, like a number of other people — mostly middle-aged men — who were very serious about their betting.
“The odds favor Obama, but just very slightly,” Miller said. “I’m voting for Romney.”
Miller said he thought the odds could easily change, but his specialty was horses: “I study this stuff every day,” he said.
Outside, where you could actually see the horses, the less serious bettors gathered.
One of them, a former teacher named Mary Barrett, was actually a resident of Westchester, New York in town to see the racing with her husband.
Asked who she’d bet on, Barrett said “I’m going with my heart but I’m going with Obama.”
She “switched back and forth between the Yankees and the debate,” so didn’t catch all of it, but said she was impressed by Biden’s performance. She’d been very disappointed by Obama last week, she said: “He didn’t do it this time.”
Shelby St. John, a physical therapist originally from Alabama who works with children and horses, was at the track by herself, having gotten a surprise half-day off from work. She’s a horse lover, and explained some of the details of racing to BuzzFeed
“I don’t know, because they seem even,” St. John said. “I would vote for Romney, but…” St. John trailed off.
She didn’t watch the debate.
“I didn’t get to watch it,” she said. “I was riding horses.”