Would you RSVP?

Predicting yearling sale prices could be a great party theme.

by Trey Nosrac

My pal Ollie and I settled into my red Chevy Malibu. Ollie turned his beefy bald head toward me and said, “I almost forgot. My wife told me to ask if you wanted to come to a dinner party on Saturday night.”

I made a face like I had a leg cramp, then replied, “Dinner party? Tell her thanks, but no.”

“Why not?”

“Trey is not good at small talk. Trey is more of a big talker and occasionally a big-mouthed know-it-all.”

Ollie changed the subject by asking, “Do you know how annoying it is when someone refers to themselves in the third person?”

“Trey does not.”

“You’ve watched The Big Lebowski too many times.”

“The Dude does abide, but my idol is Hercule Poirot, the Belgium detective in the Agatha Christie novels. He would say, “Poirot does not eat zee pastries because zee crumbs stick in Poirot’s tiny mustache.”

“Thanks for the book club suggestion. So, you are a no for Saturday?”

“I don’t know. It was nice of Arlene to ask. Is there a theme?” I asked.

“A theme? Not really.”

“Dang. I’m much better at theme parties. I went to several road rallies where people solved riddles and raced around town packed into cars, looking for clues on gas station restroom keys. A car crash looking for a clue in a cemetery ended the fun. Trey also attended a Bring Your Ex-Spouse theme party. That one was not exactly fun, but very exciting.”

Ollie chirped, “Maybe we should give my wife’s party a theme… speak in the third person like a moron.”

I gave a thumbs up. “Trey would RSVP.”

“What kind of theme would you have?”

“A yearling pedigree party. Trey has been thinking about this for a few years. You will be on my guest list of harness horse racing know-it-alls.”

“Will there be gambling?”

“Of course. Now that yearling sales are live-streamed, this party is doable. We can watch the action on a flatscreen. The invitees can begin practicing when this year’s sales catalogs arrive.”

“Practicing what?”

“What we all do; predicting what each horse will sell for. Most of us jot an amount on the corner of each pedigree page. At my pedigree party, we will sit around with our marked-up catalogs and data. As host, I will supply blank envelopes, golf pencils, file cards, a calculator, and an empty shoebox.”

“And beer?”

“Of course, even pizza and wings.”

“What should I bring?” Ollie asked.

“A wallet filled with $10 bills. Here’s how it goes. About 10 minutes before, say, HIP #112 is going into the auction ring, I will announce that envelopes for HIP #112 go into the shoebox in five minutes. Partygoers leap into action by filling in their name, making an exact prediction of what the yearling will sell for, and a $10 bill. Then they drop the envelope into the shoebox.”

Ollie bobbed his head, “I get it. After the horse sells, you open all envelopes, and the closest number to the sales price takes all the money.”

I nodded. “Simple as that. Then after the payoff, I tell the group the next HIP # in play, another yearling a little down the line. What do you think? We can play until the last yearling in the ring.”

He slapped me with a high five. “That would be a blast, lots to talk about between races, a chance to win money with no takeout, and no need to talk about the weather or the cost of groceries. Someone will provide beverages and food. That sounds like an outstanding theme. But I see one problem.”

“What’s that?”

“Do you think you can scare up enough people who read yearling pedigrees and are interested in the standardbred yearling sales market? We aren’t exactly a large demographic. It might just be a party of two.”

“All Trey can do is send out e-invites and see who RSVPs.”

“Ollie is in! Ollie says to let the party begin. Ollie says… oh no, your contagious.”