I woke after my Dad called me and brought me a card for my birthday. He came in and looked over my living room filled with horse memorabilia. As I watched his eyes gaze over the entire room, I realized something more important than ever before. – This was a visual soundtrack to our many years together. As I sit here listening to the sweet sounds of Tim McGraw, I find myself looking around seeing things for the first time in a long time.
Birthdays are for little kids and old people. Well, I guess I’ve officially become a little kid again. I kick back, and light up a cigar I’ve been saving. It’s been a long time since I’ve had one, and now feels just right. I draw the warm smoke over my lips and taste the Cuban goodness. It’s rich and smooth, and blows out like a cool wind on a warm summer’s night. I guess it’s been a good year, can you really name one that isn’t ? – There are good and bad ones, and this one’s been super. – I just poured myself a double shot of “Apple Pie” and dipped my cigar gently into the edge of the glass. Yeah, it was one for the books.
Rare are the people who can say they’ve done something for a living they love. If you just started reading, you’re hearing the inner words of the luckiest man in the world. First, how many folks can say they’ve had the opportunity to watch a Triple Crown winner ? – Now, how many have watched a Triple Crown winner from the announcers booth where they work ? – Yeah, that was pretty neat watching American Pharoah draw away at will, as I sit in the chair where I call races at a beautiful little track called Belterra Park. I don’t know if it’s the contrast of the two, or the beauty of watching the race and being thankful. As Victor Espinoza grabs up his mount and eases up in the saddle, I find a tear rolling down my cheek. If you didn’t have any welling up in your eyes, you just didn’t fall in love with racing. That’s OK. Just remember how 90,000 fans made the vast Belmont grandstands fill with sweet sounds of joy. Nothing like it, unless you turn in the chair and look over the setting sun on the hills of Kentucky. A little track in Ohio couldn’t be farther from Belmont, but it holds a mystique all of it’s own. – Yeah, it’s been a great year, and summer is just starting.
I’ve been to Aqueduct, Arlington, Keeneland, Churchill Downs, Santa Anita, Dueling Grounds, Kentucky Downs, Latonia, Turfway Park, River Downs, Mountaineer, Sportsman Park, Hawthorne, Indiana Grand, Hoosier Park, Beulah Park, Thistledown, The Red Mile, Louisville Downs, Lebanon, Belterra Park, and flew over Hollywood Park wanting to parachute into the track of “Lakes and Flowers.” – My bucket list is yet to be filled as I want to visit Del Mar, Gulfstream, Pimlico, Tampa Bay Downs, Belmont, Presque Isle, Golden Gate Fields, Santa Rosa, Lone Star, Los Alamitos, and Woodbine. – I hope the Racing Gods allow me enough time to keep doing what I love. – I enjoy taking my teenage son, and I hope he’ll enjoy the races just half as much as I have. It’s not about winning, it’s about enjoying the journey.
I can’t say I’ve had a million dollar winner, but I’ve had a few close calls. – When I finished a hard fought nose short at Churchill Downs on Breeders’ Cup day. It cost me the pick-four three times. I would still be smoking good cigars. – Or, when I was playing in the Keeneland Grade One Gamble and keyed a 21-1 shot with a little known rider named Ricardo Santana. He came flying and finished 2nd by a nose. After 10 minutes, the inquiry and objection sign went up. It stayed lit for 15 minutes, and I had him keyed three times in the trifecta, and $100 to win on him. – Well, the stews must have went out for burgoo, as they didn’t put him up. It would have probably been my best score ever. – But all in all, I have loved every moment. Funny thing about playing the races, we tend to forget about the bad beats when we have the next nice score. For me it’s always been about the people I shared the day with. You’ll never be able to put a price on that.
As I light up my smoke and inhale slowly. I wonder what the next year will hold ? – Will this be a great betting year ? Could this be the year I qualify again for the NTRA / DRF finals in Vegas ? – Or, will I just enjoy many incredible moments with friends doing what I love ? – I’ll take that one, but the money would be nice. I wish everyone could fall in love with a sport as I have with racing. To be one of the luckiest guys in the world to work around something you have always loved, and look back on the special people who have become friends with. That’s a winner. – I’ll finish my cigar, and have just one more shot as I sit back thankful for all of my blessings. – I’ll leave you with an Irish blessing John Engelhardt used to close out his long running on-air handicapping show ” The Regular Guy.” – ” May you have walls for the wind, a roof for the rain, a warm cup of tea by the fire. Laughter to cheer you, and all you love near you, and all that your heart may desire.”