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Betting On A Belmont Day

Life Enrichment Center of Oyster Bay board members, seniors and their friends and families sponsored two races at Belmont Racetrack on Sunday, June 23. It was Hat Day, a benefit for the LEC. Board President Susan Peterson chaired the event, after a hiatus of several years when instead they celebrated a Garden Party at Periwinkles in Planting Fields Arboretum State Park.

The fourth race was named for LEC. It was for Maidens, Fillies And Mares Three Years Old and Upward. The sixth race was named for Frances H. Pinkerton, major LEC donor. It was a Maiden Claiming Race. Fran Pinkerton came with her daughters Debra and Donna, their families, numbering 17 people.

Major sponsors of the races included: the Pinkerton family, Roger Bahnik, Constance Cincotta, Edward Mohlenhoff, Robin and Enrique Senior. Other sponsors included: Susan Peterson; Patricia and Efraim Azmitia; Dr. Timothy Brown and Anita Goldman; Francis DeVine Funeral Home; Laura Dougherty; Joan and Harold Kingsley; Judy Palumbo; Suzanne and Hugo Paolucci.

“It’s nice to be back at Belmont,” said one of the guests.

In honor of the annual event, several ladies made their own hats. Jane Byrd McCurdy made a “fascinator” the hat style of choice of British royalty. Based on a buckram circle, she added ribbons from her ribbon box, and white pipe cleaners with pearls from her crafts box and added a fetching white veil, all held in place with an elastic cord. Lillian Soricillo heaped her hat with flowers as she worked with seniors in the LEC DayBreak program. Jewelry designer Denyse Pugsley wore a hat with flowers and a bee flying above it she originally designed for the Save the Children polo event.

Ann (daughter of Martha and Dave Layton) Myrato wore a velvet cap with her borrowed jodhpurs, velvet jacket that sported a gold horse pin; and riding boots.

In all, about 16 women took part in the contest wearing delightful chapeaux which resulted in several winners; most creative hat: Jane Byrd McCurdy; Most Elegant Hat, Marie Hammond; LEC board’s best hat, Lillian Soricillo, made at LECOB DayBreak program. Harold Kingsley won the best tie contest, it featured jockey’s caps.

A Sure Bet

Silvana Gullo, LEC executive director said of racing, “I always bet on the gray horse,” keeping it simple. “I don’t bet money,” she added. She does however bet on the possibilities of improving brain fitness. She explained that she is working toward getting money to put an eight-week brain fitness program in place for the center. It covers cultural events, trips, music and exercise.

Chairperson Peterson was kept busy during the afternoon explaining the fine points of betting to the guests. One of them, Christopher Paolucci was happy to find that he had won $79 at the end of the day. His first race won him $13. He was following tips on the horses’ performance as Peterson showed him how to read the program notes for each race that gives the history of the horses.

His sister, Claudia, won a ceramic unicorn and was delighted with her gift. She and her mother Suzanne, father Hugo and brother Christopher had a great time at the event.

Still, there is a lot of luck in guessing what will happen. In one race, Susan picked a horse the program said likes running in mud. That day he won running on grass. “I guess he thought how wonderful and soft it felt to run on grass and he won,” said Susan.

She said the point of betting is to win, not to lose, but to make money. Betting on the horses expected to be the winner usually doesn’t make money, it just stops the better from losing money.

It’s Strategy

“Betting the favorites won’t make any money. I want to make some money,” she said. She explained the fine points of betting to the guests, many of whom were new to the sport. She said most of the horses in the races are unheard of, so you have to look at their past performances. Only the greats stand out: five out of a million horses, a rarity, become famous. Those top rated horses are scheduled to run in the second to last and last race of each day, close to 5 p.m. She said the smart better doesn’t waste their money during the day, but saves up for the good races at the end.

In Race 7, she observed, “We were winning until the last second until (number) Nine passed us by.” It is her expertise that makes the event rewarding.

The Rev. Peter Casparian, added another dimension to racing. Wearing binoculars, he was down in the paddocks during many of the races. “We were living in Lexington, Kentucky for nine years and there it is a whole different experience. You know the people, the breeders and the horses,” he explained.

Edward Mohlenhoff said his winnings on the first race paid for the rest of the day for him. Susan was not having a great day, down $150 by the next to the last race she was hoping to turn things around. “One year at I won $2,000 at the last race,” she added optimistically.

Chairperson Peterson was creative in finding horse related raffle items. Besides horse pins, mugs and a money clasp, they included a bottle of Mulderboch Faithful Hound Cabernet Sauvignon donated by Peterson and won by Efrain Azmitia; a Cheval Noir Saint-Emilion (2009) donated by Connie CIncotta and won by Ed Mohlenhoff. The 50-50 raffle of $225 was won by Celia Scaglione, campaign manager for John Di Mascio, Nassau County Legislator for the 1lth J.D.