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Posted at 12:56 PM ET, 04/29/2005

Off to the Races

By washingtonpost.com

Next Saturday marks the 80th running of the Virginia Gold Cup, the state's premier steeplechase race. But most Washingtonians heading down to The Plains are more interested in the social aspects of the day than the race itself.

Over the years, Gold Cup has become a sort of middle ground between the Preakness infield and Ascot -- an excuse to dress up, drink, mingle and -- just maybe -- watch the horses. It all seems a bit ridiculous, but that's part of the appeal.

To get the full experience -- not to mention drinks and a course-side view -- consider an all-inclusive package of round-trip bus transportation, lunch and/or dinner buffets and a day-long open bar.

One of the most popular is University Row, an annual excursion organized by the Capital Alumni Network. Groups from 44 colleges and universities congregate in eight adjoining tents along the track's North Rail, providing excellent opportunities for both networking and scoping out potential dates. You don't have to have attended one of the schools to go, though the list is wide-ranging, from Penn State to Purdue to the University of Mary Washington, but affiliation goes out the window once you're nursing a gin and tonic.

Other groups are also organizing trips down with food, drinks and post-race parties at Washington area bars and clubs. Promoters Party DC have chartered buses from Clarendon Grill, Mister Days and Bungalow Billiards. Passes cost $80. Pros in the City leaves from Capitol City Brewing Company, though it's worth noting that while the $49 ticket includes food and transportation, the group is NOT providing alcoholic beverages, so you need to BYO. McFadden's has set up its own excursion, promising a late-night celebration at the Foggy Bottom pub after the buses return. Call the bar for tickets, which are $80 each.

-- Fritz

By washingtonpost.com  | April 29, 2005; 12:56 PM ET
Categories:  Misc.  
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