Belmont Stakes

Charles Lane

Their hooves pounding like cannon fire, dirt spraying in a blurred river of rushing legs and flying crops, that electrifying moment when the horses stretch toward the finish line heaving snout beside heaving snout. 

Most horse racing fans experience this excitement not at the race track but at off track betting parlors, like the one at Batavia Downs outside Buffalo, New York. It's a sunless maze of flashing technicolored video machines manned by dough-faced bettors just sort of passing the time on a weekday afternoon.