By Tyler Gilliam

It’s the middle of Keeneland’s spring meet and I have yet to go, mainly because I can’t go without a box of tissues and a flask full of Benadryl. I’m allergic to Keeneland.More specifically, I’m allergic to horses. I was born and have lived in Kentucky my whole life, and it’s absurd to think that someone raised in the horse capitol of the world would be allergic to the horses.

I don’t have a lot of allergies; it’s really just horses and the usual mold and flowers. Of course, my mom loves horses and flowers. She loves them so much that when I was 10 we moved to a horse farm and she had so many plants that I started having Vietnam flashbacks. Therapy, I know, but back to the horses.

Just the sight, or smell, or being downwind from one makes my body go crazy. It starts with an itch and a sneeze, then quickly evolves into a seemingly life-threatening bout with rapidly swelling eyes and throat. Fun stuff, but it gets better.

My itch is always in that one little spot on my back that I can’t quite reach. We all have one, and it’s the worst thing, especially when you’re dressed nice and in a crowd, fighting to force your arm around your head and into your shirt to soothe what feels like an itch that may never be satisfied.

I’m much more likely to reach the itch going up from the bottom, but then I have to pull out my shirt, and then go back to the bathroom to tuck it back in. It’s too much trouble, really.

But the temptation to enjoy my home state’s sport is just too great to keep me away. I love to watch the races and, not to brag, but I may have made a buck or two last year at Keeneland. I’m no handicapper; I bet using the Force. Sometimes it works, but I never bring more than $20, so if it doesn’t work, I can still pay the bills.

There are a lot of people out there, however, who look forward to blowing their paychecks on a chance at winning a fortune.

Whether it’s betting on the ponies at Keeneland, buying Powerball tickets, taking trips to the gambling boat or playing bingo with their grandmothers, a lot of Kentuckians spend a lot of money on gambling-or on it’s more wholesome-sounding alias, gaming.

Whatever your poison, it’s important to be responsible when it’s your hard-earned money on the line. No matter how foolproof your strategy, gambling at Keeneland is no different than gambling anywhere else, even if it’s in-God forbid-a casino. But I won’t go there today.

You can look for me at Keeneland this weekend, equipped with my antihistamines and a $20 bill.

Maybe I’ll win, maybe I’ll lose, but I’ll have fun either way and that’s the important part. Money isn’t everything, I guess.

But what do I know? I’m just a college student.