Little Things That Matter

by Ed Meyer

posted on April 10, 2024 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, Kentucky Derby, | Comments Off on Little Things That Matter

Horseplayer friends always have the same chatter going on these days. “Who do you like for the Derby?” – Most have an idea or three, and others can run the list in their head pretty quick. For me, I always have the same answer and it never changes from year to year. Not yet, too early for me.

I’m guessing for at least two defections between now and the Derby in 25 days. Sometimes they matter and others don’t impact the picture much. – For me, they all mean something to complete the picture. Patience.

Take a look at how your horse came out of their last race. If it were a month or more, make sure you see a couple of works, especially one over the track. If it was last weekend, read all reports as if the winner depends on it, as they actually do.

Make sure the rider stays in the saddle. If they jump around and play moving mounts, there is a degree of uncertainty. If a rider stays put, there has been plenty of talk between, the trainer, agent, and rider. I like the teamwork approach.

When do they ship into Churchill Downs? – Biggie here, and most overlook. Nothing like arriving early and setting up home for a month. Horses settle and get used to the surroundings versus runners who ship in days prior and never catch a breath. Pay close attention to who ships in early. This is a sign trainers have been targeting Louisville.

Stay away from late equipment changes. If they add something, they are still trying to figure out what the horse needs. Even a new tongue tie or a set of shorter blinkers make me toss this runner. The only exception is if they had blistering work since their last race will I consider them again.

Only play a runner who was in the top three spots in Grade I-II-III races. This is no time to swing wildly with a runner who had a bad gate trip or finished up the track. Good outfits target this race and know just when to ask their best. – I love to see a sweet middle move where they finished up nicely in the money and galloped out strong past the wire. Last year, I saw this with Two Phil’s in the Jeff Ruby at Turfway. It was the gallop out that caught my eye. Even though he finished a super second in the Derby, he ran his heart out. The last time I saw this over synthetic was many moons ago with Animal Kingdom who won the 2011 Kentucky Derby. Keep your eyes peeled.

Spread exotic wagers. Exactas offer big value in the Derby. – Don’t be afraid to spread out to four or five or more horses in the exotic. It pays better than you think. – Another hidden gem is the place price. I have seen more $9.80 to win and $6.20 to place payoffs than you think. Don’t leave money on the table.

What’s the plan? – Patience. Take your time, read all you can, and take it all in. Don’t be afraid of a big price and don’t be afraid of the “all-button.” -I would grab a few like-minded gambling pals and go after the pick-four leading into the Derby. It will be a big ticket, but this is where the big fish swim. – Best of luck and be sure and check back as we draw closer. I’ll start a few horses to watch lists, and hopefully, they can help you find the big winner!

Why I Became a Gambler

by Ed Meyer

posted on February 21, 2024 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, | Comments Off on Why I Became a Gambler

There’s a certain feel when the dice careen off chips and come spinning to a halt. As the reels spin with a whirl of colors and dreams to come. You peek at your hole cards and find that pair of bullets staring back at you as you reach deep for composure and cool. People can smell the aroma of good and bad luck. – But, when you see a throng of runners make the bend and turn for home there’s a certain feeling all to its own. You feel your heart race as they close down the homestretch. Your body starts to vibrate. The bounce begins where you can’t stop moving quicker as they reach the final 16th and fortune awaits. Watch a race being run live and you’ll see the smacker who holds his Form tightly urging his horse with every stride, or the fat man with a cigar start vigorously going to the right-hand whip with his rolled-up program.  – Those are my people and just one reason why I love gambling.

When Greyhound Racing ended in Florida a gal pal asked me to make a trip. In my head, I could hear this voice resonate;” Why the hell would I want to go there? No Dog Racing, Jai Alai is a long memory at many Frontons. Why go there? It’s an old person’s paradise with dinner specials at 4pm.” – I made gambling a part of my trip. Do it all, make it exciting.

Harness Racing was a bridge evening. It sure wasn’t Thoroughbreds, but just enough action to get you to the next trip to see real horses. – Many a summer night spent with the old man making double-header trips from River Downs in the daytime; a box of Lee’s chicken in between, and off to Latonia Trots. One is now Belterra and the other is Turfway Park. – What I wouldn’t give to be 20 years younger and make that trip in the old white truck again.

When I made my first trip to Keeneland on a Saturday ” the worst day of the week for the crowd size.” – I thought I was in Heaven. – Eight live races with one Daily Double. Pat Day would win 5 races and pay an average of $3.20. But I still loved it. I made a trip with my brother when our boss let us off early, and we drove a purple GT of my friends going way past the speed limit. That was the day we made our biggest bet to date. $50 each for an exacta box and $50 to win on a horse named Risen Star. The exacta paid $19.20 and we thought we were the ‘Kings of the Bluegrass.” – I’ve won plenty more, but that was my favorite day as we left early due to the crowd and listened to the live race call on WLAP 630am in Lexington.

I made friends at the races; won and lost, and shared time with family. – I once heard horrible words in a race track meeting. “We need to do something special for the guests.” – They might as well tossed me out. I’m a gambler. I love the way it sounds, and feels, and makes my heart skip a beat to this day. – These have been some of the best days and years of my life. It gave me a hobby, a game to fall in love with, and employment for the past 35 years. – Yeah, without a doubt. Being called a gambler is like being part of a fraternity where we are all Grand Poobas.



How to Play Turfway Park

by Ed Meyer

posted on December 19, 2023 in Blogroll, Free Picks and Tips, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | Comments Off on How to Play Turfway Park

The winter winds are blowing in Florence, Kentucky and the synthetic track is always fast. I work as a racing official and watch every single race. Sometimes I’ll look at the program making “mind bets” as who I thought looked the best. – After a few weeks, here is what I have found.

It is one of the toughest tracks in the nation to handicap. That means if you score you can count on a sizeable payout. Good news.

Playing horses from Churchill, Woodbine, and Horseshoe Indiana has been solid. Keep your eyes peeled for ship-ins from these tracks and look for a couple of works over the Turfway oval. – Trainers are limited to 2mm grabs on shoes and you are allowed to run without shoes. The track is kind and plays fair which makes handicapping tougher for bias players.

Trainers to keep on your list of ones to play:

William Morey

Jonathan Thomas

Mike Maker

Mike Stidham

Ian Wilkes

Dale Romans

Paulo Lobo

Brad Cox

John Ennis

Brendan Walsh

Jordan Blair


The rider colony is one of the best in the country for a winter/night racing track:

Gerarado Corrales

Declan Cannon

Walther Rodriguez

Axel Conception

Yarmarie Correa

Adam Beschizza

Julio Felix

Several apprentice riders can win at a huge price as well.


Stay off the rail with your selections

Turf to dirt is a good angle

Look for Presque Isle horses coming into Turfway Park

Gulfstream runners shipping North

Speed wins, but not very much

Stalkers that move at the 3/8th’s pole are dangerous

Steer clear of dead last horses closing strong. They seem to flatten out.


If you’re going to make a pick-four, p-5, or p-6 wager. Get ready to have plenty of coverage in your tickets. You may seek out a group ticket to keep down your cost.


Winter racing is smoking hot. The purses are huge and the field sizes are strong. Just have patience and enjoy the red-hot action in the cold of winter.


Best of luck and keep your wagers small as the payoffs have been solid!







All I Want for Christmas

by Ed Meyer

posted on December 19, 2023 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | Comments Off on All I Want for Christmas

As we gather around the tree and sip eggnog and sing carols. We wish with that gleam in our eyes for wonderful gifts a plenty. Handicappers love a good day, and their skills are sharpened and ready to employ. As we give thanks and enjoy the holiday season. Here are a few things I would love to see under my tree for racing.


We wished for casino entities to buy in and be a part of the tracks which so needed help. I would love to see the original plan of investing in the sport and not treating horse racing as a dying sport so we can have hordes of people smacking buttons on the slot machines. – Why not invest even more in racing and make it an entertainment destination? – No more management going through the motions wishing racing would disappear. – Invest in the backside and create a sense of community. The hard-working men and women would be grateful and stay for as long as possible. – Don’t make the racing areas small and understaffed. Advertise on the huge signs inviting fans to enjoy the entire facility. We were 3 days from opening and the large illuminated sign said everything except when we opened for racing. This is not one track, but all that have racino, casino, or VLTs in place. – You wouldn’t have been here in the first place without the racing gaming license.

As for managers of the racino/casino. Get rid of most of them or change their mindset of thinking racing is a pain in their ass. – They walk around in suits and have no idea what is happening for a sport that has been going on since the 1800s. – Get them out, or give them an agenda of growth and planning for the future. These are tough words, but prove me wrong and I’ll move along. Some tracks invest in both, and they rake in profits with both hands. Racing is not an evil word, and we need to look at how this venture first began decades ago.

For the season of joy, I wish safety for horses and riders. I want to see safer track surfaces and a regimented plan for getting rid of the bad eggs and promoting the ones who play by the rules. Make plans to promote and advertise the sport as an entertainment destination. – Re-think some of the HISA rules. Not everyone is playing dirty, and for the ones that are. Get them out for good. There are too many men and women dedicated to caring for these majestic animals. Most treat the horses better than themselves. As a trainer once told me; “the horses eat before I do.”

I know these are big wishes, but that’s what wishing is for. – So many who care, and a handful of top brass that don’t, or just don’t have a clue. – Help them learn and watch the process. They are beautiful and majestic creatures that bring more excitement than the law allows. How many times have you heard a group of 50 fans gather around a slot machine rooting loudly as the wheel spins? Me neither.

Here’s to a Happy and Safe Christmas / Holiday Season. May the New Year bring tidings of hope and planning for the future. – I started as a racing fan long ago and don’t hate the slot machines. Just give racing a fair shake and see what happens. I bet you’ll come to fall back in love with the game we all enjoyed long ago.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from your friends at Winning Ponies!

What Say You?

by Ed Meyer

posted on November 17, 2023 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | Comments Off on What Say You?

HISA is buzzing around the racing world like a nest of hornets. After the 60 Minutes piece painting everything racing as the devil; most folks took the word of the news program as gospel. The last time I heard anything like this was Greyhound Racing in Florida. – After damning it to the lowest levels, it has disappeared after 50+ years in the Sunshine State forever. I wonder what effect it will have on horse racing?

HISA is actually a good idea if properly massaged. Racing, like all professional sports, needs a fair governing body that will keep out the bad and grow the good parts of the sport. – Are there problems? Yes. Can they be fixed? Yes. – Takes money, time, and commitment. Make the punishments only after due diligence swift and harsh. Reward the good members of the racing community with the spoils of what the sport brings to the table. After all, it was racing that went to Congress like Mr. Smith going to Washington asking for help making the game transparent and fair.

The group swung in quickly and shot first and didn’t ask questions later. Take Saffie Joseph. They all but damned him to the eternal fires. How much do you think it hurt his business for months on end while they gave him a colonoscopy with a rake and tore him open to the core. – Falsely accused, his owners gave away horses to other outfits, and his business was left in tatters. Then, after they finished, they informed him he was fine and able to return to training. – How many owners left the game? How many horses are in the new barns? Just like that, his world turned inside out. – Would you pay $2,000 a month to keep your horse in a barn that was not allowed to race, and the outcome was up in the air. – Nope, and neither did they.

Just slow down. Take your time and ask first before the in-depth investigation begins. Racing wants to be around for decades to come, but if you believed everything you heard on 60 Minutes; I’m sure you want this to go away right now. – There are hundreds that I know personally that are second and third-generation horsemen. They love the game and treat the horses better than some treat each other. They are dedicated to doing the right things and couldn’t imagine hurting a horse for the sake of money. But, I’m sure 60 minutes left that part of the story out. As well as they usually get there at 5:00 am and work until 7:00 pm. – No days off, and a vacation is something someone else takes.

HISA is not all wrong. They are trying, but just too hard. – Guilty until they feel you are innocent. Racing needs to rid the game of performance-enhancing drugs, punish the guilty, and leave the innocent to showcase the “Sport of Kings.” – There are so many hard-working folks who are hanging their heads to the court of public opinion. Time will either help or eradicate the sport in years to come. Nobody is off the hook. They are going after everyone and maybe asking questions later. – Just slow your roll and try and keep the game healthy and on the right path. Like all sports, it has big problems and needs help. Not an executioner on every backside to take away the sport. In the words of Winston Churchill; “There is nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse.” 


Friday Breeders’ Cup – Spot Plays

by Ed Meyer

posted on November 3, 2023 in Blogroll, Breeders Cup, Free Picks and Tips, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | Comments Off on Friday Breeders’ Cup – Spot Plays

Halloween is over, and the cold winds have started blowing to signal the arrival of the two greatest days of the year to be racing fans. Well, that is in my neck of the woods for sure. Having the two-day extravaganza in California is a blessing this year in the Kentucky area. It could be 68 degrees and sunny or 28 and blustery in the Bluegrass State. Without further delay, here are some spot plays on the Friday Breeders’ Cup card. – Best of luck and be sure and download your Winning Ponies E-Z Win Forms for the most comprehensive look at how the races take shape.


Race #1 – #6 – Mo Fox Given = Making her second start off the layoff and ran two incredible races at Colonial and Churchill Downs. The daughter of Mo Town has a sparkling late work and the barn wins 28% with non-graded stakes races. Flavien Prat takes the call and he should have a good weekend in store. She sports a fine turn of late foot and will be calling late in the lane.


Race #5 – The BC Turf Sprint – #2 – No Nay Mets = Son of No Nay Never and has the services of Irad Ortiz for George Weaver. He has blistering speed and should be the major pace player from the gate break. Comes off a 55-day break and is 3/4 ITM lifetime. Cuts back from 5 1/2 furlongs and makes the rider switch to Ortiz who wins 22% with early speed types on the turf. Catch him if you can!


Race #6 – The BC Juvenile Filles – #7 – Tamara = She is a perfect two-for-two for Dick Mandella and Mike Smith who win 30% as a team. She comes off a 55-day rest and shows four solid works over the track. Smith has a perfect stalker who can turn up the heat when he asks for more run. This may be one of the singles for your exotic wagers for the weekend.


Race #7 – The BC Juvenile Filly Turf – #6 – Porta Fortuna = A daughter of Caravaggio who is 6/6 ITM lifetime for Donnacha O’Brien with Oisin Murphy in the irons. A perfect stalker who can turn up the heat when asked by the world-class rider. Her (Gr1) sealed the deal for me and I’m looking for an up-close stalker who is poised to pounce. The Euros are incredible in California this time of year, and I’m using her over a few big-priced players to get the bankroll moving.


Race #8 – The BC Juvenile – #6 – Locked = A son of Gun Runner who is in the hands of Jose Ortiz for Todd Pletcher coming off a solid Keeneland meeting. Pletcher wins 23% with his shippers coming in, and it looks like he loves the distance which should be no problem. Ortiz is a patient rider and he is only getting better with each additional trip to the races. I like his last work which shows all systems are a go!


Race #9 – The BC Juvenile Turf – #7 – Agate Road = A son of Quality Road and sports the strongest late punch down the lane in the field. As luck would have it, Irad Ortiz is one of the best finishing riders in the game, especially for Todd Pletcher. Lightly raced and only seemed to get better with every effort. I’m using him over #2 – River Tiber, and #5 – My Boy Prince.


Winning Ponies always has their “A” game in place for the marquee weekends. Be sure and download the Winning Ponies E-Z Win Forms to give you the advantage of seeing how the race will take shape with color-coded tiers and easy-to-use handicapping tools. – I’ve been using them since 2008, and they never let me down when the biggest day of racing takes center stage. – Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies!



Keeneland – Top Picks for Saturday 10/21/23

by Ed Meyer

posted on October 17, 2023 in Blogroll, Breeders Cup, Free Picks and Tips, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | Comments Off on Keeneland – Top Picks for Saturday 10/21/23

The weather will be good during the week with some showers on Friday. The track drains better than any I’ve seen, and by Saturday you should have the best oval to wager during the meet. Dry at first, water from the sky, and a drainage that will keep the track perfect for a fair non-biased oval. Turf should be perfect with enough “cut” to please our Euro visitors and provide sweet turf with enough bounce to yield good times.


Keeneland – Saturday, 10/21/2023


Race #2 – #5 – Dancing Nancy = Two-year-old filly by Goldencents, and has been off since Saratoga. She drops in class for Chad Brown who wins 27% going from Mdn Sp Wt to Mdn Claiming. The past two weeks, Chad Brown has had eight starters 4 wins, and a place finish. Take a look at the two solid works over the Keeneland surface and Florent Geroux in the irons who wins 26% with his sprinter mounts. She may not offer great win pool value but could be used as a free spot in multi-race wagers.


Race #4 – #8 – Viareggio = There is plenty of speed that can set up a stalker in the hands of a talented rider for a top-shelf barn. This is her 2nd time off the layoff and trainer Brendan Walsh wins 22%. He does very well with Tyler Gaffalione in the saddle scoring 24% as a team and if you go back four races, you’ll see a maiden-breaking win over the Keeneland sod and stalked just off the pace. I’m looking for a repeat here and a trip to the winner’s circle.


Race #5 – #8 – Denim and Pearls = First timer for Brad Cox who wins 20% on this move. Florent Geroux is in the irons and they do very well as a team scoring at a 28% win clip. Her dam Majestic Presence has 3 starters, 2 winners, and 1 stakes winner. Her last two works sold me quickly as they are spaced 6 days apart and her last work was a bullet. She comes back six days off that work and looks ready to fire at first asking.


Race #6 – #5 – Venkman = This son of Ghostzapper is a perfect 2/2 shipping in from Del Mar for Mark Glatt. He is coming off a 49-day break and John Velasquez is in the saddle. His last work was a sparkling bullet, and Velasquez wins 26% with sprinters. He is moving up the ladder for the acid test, and off his last race Speed Figure should be a major player.


Race #8 – #6 – Seisai = She exits off a win at Kentuky Downs over the undulating European course. The track played well to speed and the inside. Her dam Lillebonne (IRE) has 6 starters, 6 winners, 3 stakes winners, and 6 turf winners to her credit. She has a strong turn of late foot and should be a player at a solid price.


Race #10 – #11 – Fauci = This son of Malibu Moon is 2/2 ITM at Keeneland, and Tyler Gaffalione hangs around for the last race of the day. He comes off a 58-day break and sports a late punch that should have him in the winners’ circle today.


This will get you started, and nothing like a little freebie to get you rolling. – For the best use of the day, be sure and download your Winning Ponies E-Z Win Forms to have a complete picture of how the races will take shape. I have had some of my best days at the betting windows by having my handicapping tool in hand. As we start the move to the Breeders’ Cup weekend, be sure to download your E-Z Win Forms now and start putting your final touches on your wagering bankrolls.






Bet Like You Mean It – Keeneland

by Ed Meyer

posted on October 4, 2023 in Blogroll, Breeders Cup, Free Picks and Tips, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | Comments Off on Bet Like You Mean It – Keeneland

As our bankroll starts dwindling or maybe it’s the flip side and you’re on fire. Now is the time to bet like a pro. – We all feel like we have a handle on our betting style and plan. But if this was true, wouldn’t you have quit your day job by now? – Don’t tell your boss “Where to go” and keep your meeting agenda intact. Betting like a pro is an ideal of who we want to be and not necessarily a character we have of someone doing this.

Betting like a pro is a plan. We want every wager to mean something and not just drop a few bucks to pass the time. No need for the cheap cigar and mobster-sounding voice. It is keeping your wagers in line. Hopefully right back in line to the cashier’s window.


  1. Don’t use over 5% of your bankroll on your first bet. Even if you are betting the minimum, that is the plan.
  2. You choose the five tracks you like running that day and trim it back to three. From there, two tracks get your main focus and the 3rd gets a spot play of the day. – Of the two main tracks you use the top three races you like on the card only and that spot play at your third track. – Not enough action? – Trust me you have eight to nine races of which you’ll bet the minimum on seven, and crank up your best bets to 10%. – If you’re winning, you can unleash the hounds if you like, but be sure to make your bankroll back to even where you started the day.
  3. Keep notes. Watch the races like a “scouting mission” and you’re looking for the best runners to wager on next out. – Trip handicapping is as old as time and the best cappers employ this daily.
  4. Do not force yourself to have action. – If you don’t bet Finger Lakes and it’s a Monday afternoon, let it slide. – You haven’t been watching them, and you dove in the deep end. Take at least two days off a week when you are not watching races and not charting the races. It will keep you fresh.
  5. At boutique meets like Keeneland. Stay away from the $150k maiden events. I know, no fun, huh? – This is about winning and the fun is at the end of the day when you have more in your pocket. – Use the big allowance races and turf races only. Trainers target and ship into Keeneland for the money and prestige of growing their barn with more winners. – Use the top four riders from last year and the top four trainers to start handicapping. There is a reason they are back and it’s not the burgoo.
  6. Keep an eye on the weather and know how the track plays from watching race replays from the day prior and even last year. Compare. – Keep an eye on the new rider who is setting the nation on fire. If they ship to try their hand at Keeneland, this has been a plan in the works with their agent for quite some time. – The big outfits didn’t come for the weather, and if a big name from another circuit targets a race. They have a reason and have some expenses shipping in from another track.
  7. Watch the cheap races. Not to play back as it is only a 15-day meet. You’ll see them drop down in class elsewhere and strike paying nicely down the road. – As far as runbacks during the same 15-day meet. Trainers have been targeting and they will take some time off after the short meeting.


Keep your head and don’t bet over it. – It can be enticing, and this week you should be betting the first weekend in Keeneland, New York, and California. Breeders’ Cup has plenty of opportunities that first weekend at Keeneland and spot-play stakes races at the other two. This Friday and Saturday offer up a great opportunity to see some making their last start before the Breeders’ Cup. Some will even draw into the starting gate with a “win and you’re in” stake.

Don’t forget to enjoy the races. After all, that’s how you started years ago. Make a plan and stick to it. Take notes and spend as much time selecting how much you’ll wager as who you’ll wager on. They seem two sides of a different coin, but they are the same in importance. – You’re already in the right place with Winning Ponies. They are tried and true and easy to use for long-time cappers and those making their first trip. Color-coded tier levels make it easy to understand and it will help guide you along to eliminating runners who don’t belong. Go ahead. Give it a try and let me know how your day goes. I’ll bet dollars to donuts we’ll be in the cashier’s line together. – Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies!





The Start, Middle, and Stretch Run of 2023

by Ed Meyer

posted on October 4, 2023 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | Comments Off on The Start, Middle, and Stretch Run of 2023

It started in the cold of winter in Kentucky. The funny thing is it’s not Alaska, but it can get damn cold. Being on the windward side of the building you felt every blustery blow of the winds coming out of the west. For the horses, you would look to which direction the flags were blowing. From the west of the airport runways meant they would face a headwind and speed would hold up better than usual. From the east, was a closer’s dream. The speed would tire and runners with a late kick had a chance.

It was during the early part of February that conversations about Perry Ouzts would begin. Many in the placing judges stand felt he would never complete his dream of becoming the 5th all-time leading rider in history, but one voice spoke and in Babe Ruth style not only predicted the milestone but guessed the month and week. – I was only ten days off, and Perry Wayne Ouzts passed the late great David Gall to notch another page in history. – The paddock will be named in his honor and a statue of a jockey painted in the Larry Smith colors of Smith Red Gate Farm would forever hold his spot in the books. At 69 years of young age, he rides with the vim and vigor of an 18-year-old kid. He still loves to win, but this year may be his final as he informed me back in the winter this was it. “Oh, I may ride one for an old friend, and I’ll still work out horses in the morning, but I’ll just help my wife around the barn and slow down a bit.” – I think Perry will still keep riding on a much slower basis, but his drive will still be 100%. Congrats, my friend. It has been an honor watching you ply your trade.

Jockey Perry Ouzts on the cusp of 7,000 career wins; could reach ...


Picking horses to make the Derby trail off the synthetic has been a fool’s folly. A handful have made the trek, but only a couple made a big “Run for the Roses.” The last one that caught my attention on the poly at Turfway Park was Animal Kingdom back in 2011. – He made a move on the poly that horses usually make on the deep-cushioned dirt. It was spectacular to watch and at the quarter pole, I made the decision this was my Derby horse without looking elsewhere. Finally, a good choice off the Polytrack. Weekend Stakes: Where To Watch - Horse Racing News ...


I haven’t found another who caught my eye like he did; that was until this past March at the new Turfway Park owned by CDI. – The track was now Tapeta and the new track was a beacon for change. – Now the Jeff Ruby Stakes, yes, Stakes. – A lightly raced horse named Two Phil’s trained by Chicago conditioner Larry Rivelli made a storming move in the hands of Jareth Loveberry that made my second decision to stop my Derby search early. This time it wasn’t the middle move; it was the runout past the wire that caught my eye like many horsemen watch for. – His head held low like A.P. Indy back in the day and he kept pulling the rider as he wanted to keep on running at full-speed. That was proof enough for me. – On the First Saturday in May he stormed up the rail and grabbed the lead at Churchill Downs. Old-time trainers say that the last quarter mile at Churchill Downs must be uphill as they have seen horses draw off only to get caught in the final yards. – Well, my big win ticket at a sweet price became a place ticket, but I still turned a profit.

As the leaves turn golden brown and the talk of Breeders’ Cup begins. Another year is making its way into the books. I have seen a great deal and been on hand for some moments that will last a lifetime. – This is the life of a horse racing fan who just so happens to work in the industry. I wind up my ninth year as race caller and odds maker at a beautiful little oval along the banks of the mighty Ohio River; Belterra Park. I complete my final five days of the year; I will make that walk into the booth with a special spring in my step. We treat it as a fine cigar and enjoy it down to the butt before we smash it out in the ashtray and move along. Another year in the books. Can’t wait to see what the Breeders’ Cup weekend has in store, and the winter conversations that await the judge stand at Turfway Park. One thing is for certain. I will definitely let you know.




The Official End of Summer

by Ed Meyer

posted on October 4, 2023 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, | Comments Off on The Official End of Summer

May be an image of 7 people and horse



Many mark the day with a family BBQ or fireworks and sparklers for the kids. For horse racing fans in the Ohio / Northern Kentucky area, there was only one place to be. River Downs.

It sat near the shores of the muddy Ohio River as the breezes blew gently through the big maple trees near the 6 furlongs chute. A giant tent with tables, seating, a grand buffet, and an open bar all day greeted lucky ticket holders with the “Official End of Summer Blowout.” Oh, and did I mention the 20 clerks who were ready and waiting to take your wagers? – Oh, what better way to bid summer adieu.

John Engelhardt was the official “Mayor of River Downs,” and would enjoy a beer or ten as he greeted loyal patrons with a hearty handshake and the ladies would get a gentle hug. Pictures with the “Regular Guy” of racing were coveted items as he smoked his Strauss Tobacconist cigar and would give out a pick or two for the day. John made the party, and many moons ago that is how I landed the greatest job in the world working with him at River Downs. But I digress.

I would usually take my dad, and we would handicap under the trees with a covered table and TVs. Drinks flowed from the first to an hour after the last. After being treated to a lavish layout of Cincinnati’s finest fare, the grill pit would fire up to bed down your gambling appetite with dogs, brats, meats, and burgers. Not the millionaire’s ball, but damn close in my book.

You hoped for sunshine as there was a bevy of turf races with riders coming in from other tracks to end the summer on a high note. The day was centered around a stake race that made the little track glow. The $200,000 Miller Lite Cradle Stakes. Over the years I saw a Derby winner with Spend a Buck, and some who would go on to greatness like Harlan’s Holiday, Coax Me Chad, Bellamy Road, and a host of others. If you forget, no problem. Just pick up one of the many mugs that showed every past winner and a painted picture of last year’s victor on your table. Yeah, it would not do it justice to say they did a great job at putting on the party. They invented how to do it right. The new owners try and give away a pen and pencil set when you walk through the doors as the rest of us remember how it was supposed to be done.

As the sun sets, the “Regular Guy” is looking for his golf cart to head back to the office. – We had a wonderful day doing what we loved. Friends, family, and fun. You saw everyone from the track bum to some of Cincinnati’s celebrities. A day where we rubbed elbows and enjoyed the day together celebrating the equine. About now, I would hear the horn of my dad’s old truck and we would drive away for a day of incredible delight. But it is only a sound I cherish in my heart wishing to go back just one more time. Just like the little Scottish village Brigadoon which would appear from the mist once every hundred years, River Downs would create a party atmosphere that was second to none every Labor Day. It once was called “America’s Day at the Races.” Now, I’m not sure how many tracks are even open today. – I still have a big smile on my face just thinking of the official end-of-summer blowout.