What to do in Sao Paulo on Labor Day? Why, go to the Jockey Club, of course!

I’d heard good things about the Jockey Club, but thought that they only had races on the weekend. Turns out, they also have Monday night racing…perfect for Labor Day! Tom called and made dinner reservations for us on the terrace, since those in the know understand that you get the best views from there. After he hung up, he commented that they probably thought we were nuts for making a reservation; people just don’t make reservations here in Sao Paulo unless there is a large party. I just wanted to be sure we got seated.

The races were to begin at 7 pm, so we left our condo at 6:15 for the 7.2 km drive to the club. With traffic and wrong turns, we arrived after 7:30.

Just a word of warning about finding the Jockey Club. You follow the signs at first, but they just sort of end. There’s no sign saying “Jockey Club: Here it is!” (Once you know, of course, it’s obvious.) It’s a large building on your right off to the side of the main road. The night we went there was no traffic going in, so we missed it. I was about to call off the whole night, but we circled once and tried again. I’m so glad we did!

The racetrack clubhouse is art deco, massive and inviting as you drop off your car with the valet and climb the red carpet to the second floor, where you can enter the restaurant or the terraces.

You really can’t beat the nighttime view of Sao Paulo from the Jockey Club, especially with an almost-full moon rising!

We arrived to find only a few other diners in the restaurant. Maybe five tables were occupied, and most of the stands were empty. Not a busy night. Scott was intrigued by a man sitting in a box near us: his own TVs, phone, and bottle of scotch whiskey. (“One day, I’ll be That Guy,” Scott whispered.)

The meal was excellent, served on china with nice silver and thick tablecloths and napkins. Really top-drawer. The caipiroskas were smooth, deceptively smooth.

While we dined, we could wave over one of the stewards, who would then take our bets tableside, and we could bet on the races there at the course, or simultaneous races in Rio. Two chances to lose your money! The boxes below us had TVs where we could monitor the stakes rising and falling, in addition to making use of the betting boards on the field.

The view from the restaurant is fantastic: right in front of the Winner’s Circle. Turns out, the people in this photo were sitting right behind Scott! Rubbing elbows with the horsey set!

Scott came away the big winner: about $30. Tom was next, and I came in a paltry third. So, I drank my winnings. (Outra caipiroska, por favor!)

I did have one question about the betting form:

All in all, it was a delightful evening, though I would like to go with a group next time, so it won’t be so obvious when I smack my racing form on my companions as I cheer on my dark horse.