Placing a bet on buffet at Vernon Downs


It’s all about the odds and managing the risks when you go to the racetrack. For amateurs like me, you read the free cheat sheets and newspaper entries, eavesdrop on guys with big cigars hanging off their lips who peel bills  off their money clips, and hope for the best.

You shouldn’t have to take a chance on a good meal, but that is how I felt as the family and I trotted off to Vernon Downs racetrack the other night, heading to the Champions Buffet that is part of the casino there.

Things started badly, at least for dad, as the man at the entrance to the casino asked Daughter B if she was 18.  She’s almost there, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  After nearly shouting, “No, ” we were  provided the mandatory escort that all minors get as they pass through the loud pulsating casino game floor.

As we walked through a $1,000 winner was announced, which brought some joy to the floor, but mostly it was a lot of people watching the blinking whirling spinning numbers as they pushed the  play button again and again and again.  Not my idea of a night out, but the place was humming.

I was betting there would be some winners and some losers at the buffet, which is what you probably should expect  for $13.99. This is no Mandalay Bay in Vegas, but it’s no Golden Corral in Anytown, either.

I did manage to eat about 50 clams. Seriously. They are part of the Friday night offerings, and I went up several times to fill a plate, much to the family’s chagrin.

At a clam bake at Sacandaga Lake some years ago,  someone said that eating clams can be like eating potato chips. These were not  clam-bake fresh, but they were OK and filled the desperate need for bivalve molluscs that I’ve had  for a while.

The beef tips were very good, and the sweet potatoes were done just right. The lamb Wife L sampled was dry, the stuffed fillet of sole I had was marginal, and the salad bar  routine.  The pasta salad Daughter B ate was flavorful,  and the mashed potatoes were good. Because of the clam situation, I didn’t sample the chicken riggies, stuffed shells, and other items.

I do have some pride.

On this beautiful Friday night in CNY, we took the short stroll to the track and stayed for about five races.  There was a decent crowd enjoying the trotters, and the free ears of corn provided by Hinman Farms. We had a close-up view of what was promoted as the track’s first ever corn-eating contest, and we cheered the young father who ate seven in about three minutes. Fun, until Wife L pointed out that you don’t really digest corn.

It’s funny how  few people go trackside to scream or goad or urge their horse to come through. We had plenty of room at the fence as most folks were content to sit in the chairs that fill the track apron. We’re not talking huge payoffs, I guess, but c’mon sports fans,  a win is a win.

We walked away with $9.90 in winnings. HUGE. That’s after, though, we bet a whopping $20. I’ll take it.  It was a nice night out; low key and easy. Seems like this risk, buffet and all, was worth it.

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One thought on “Placing a bet on buffet at Vernon Downs

  1. Try the Vernon buffet Polish special on Wednesday (I think they still have it). And it was only 6.99, I think, complete with Polish band. We even won enough on the electronic video machines to pay for lunch. Kielbasa, pierogis, stuffed cabbage, and all you would expect. I hate buffets, though, as I feel I have to try everything, then go back for seconds on the ones I like. Very filling!

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