The tall and lithe Michelle Li from Toronto dings a goose feathered shuttlecock to and fro in a lazy, backyard barbeque sort of way. The rubber-nosed projectile flies over the net as she takes a dainty step here, a swing of the ponytail there, and then she jumps a foot and half in the air, and…
Li hasn't clocked her "smash" but she guesses it's around 200 mph. This with a racket weighing less than a quarter pound which, perhaps, mischaracterizes the sport in general as non-contact, non-competitive, non-American.
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.