What Makes You Happy ?

by Ed Meyer

posted on July 18, 2018 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>

Every morning your feet hit the floor should be first. But it’s what comes after that says a lot about you. – For me, it’s my son, family, and friends. Work comes closing fast to complete the superfecta and ranks pretty close. – I’m very grateful and have been most of my life. Maybe it was my mom’s doing, or getting to enjoy the small things that turned out to be the best things. Either way, I’ve enjoyed this summer immensely.

My job is one of the best in the world, but don’t tell anyone. I don’t want to have 100 resumes waiting on my bosses’ desk. – There hasn’t been a day where my car hit the parking lot and I regretted being there. – My dad told me to find something you love and you won’t have to work again. I’ve been off enjoying the eternal summer for quite some time and I hope it lasts for many moons to come. – I may be just getting started.

Watching jockeys has always been interesting for me. – Pound for pound they are the best athletes in any sport. I watch them ride in the heat, the cold, and everything in between. – I’ve seen them get tossed off an 1,100 pound Thoroughbred, and get right back up and win the next. For me that’s amazing. – The way they balance the tip of a boot with only toes in the stirrups or pull a horse right back up when they went to their knees at the start. It’s like watching a ballet dancer with the strength of an ox. Amazing. – Perry Ouzts is 64-years-young. He’s quiet and never claims a foul. – His ability to get a horse to break quickly is nothing short of breathtaking. He is the 9th all-time leading rider in history and has 6,954 wins. He is 46 away from 7,000, and we have 46 days left in the meet. I’m sure I don’t need to mention it to him as it’s probably one of the greatest things on his mind besides his beautiful family. – I’ve never seen anything like him before and doubt I ever will. He told me after 6,900 at the beginning of the meet; “Ed, I’m gonna’ get it right here at Belterra this summer. If Perry tells you something like that you can start etching it in stone. – I sure hope Perry gets his milestone. Nothing makes me happier than watching him jog slowly back to the winner’s circle like he’s enjoying a fine wine. He savors every step and knows what he wants to accomplish. – Age is a number and he’s sure called its bluff. – Best of luck, Perry. I want to be there when you and yours celebrate the big win.

Betting this year has been a little slower for me. – I’ve concentrated more on my job and love handicapping for our tip sheet. I’m winning at 30% and ITM almost 78%. I sure hope anyone who buys a copy is riding right with me. – Plus my son is graduating high school this year, and college is closing fast on the outside. – I never really tried to make him a race tracker as a promise to his mom. She never knew the beauty and excitement of the sport, but I’ve kept my word. He’s been with me many times and has fun trying to win a few bucks. – He asked me the other day; “Dad, when I get to college and the guys want to go to the races will you show me how to handicap?” – You bet, my boy. I’ll be glad to show you.

This year has me more grateful for things we sometimes take for granted. – I have family and friends, and one of the best brothers money couldn’t buy. Add in a job I love and a roof over my head and you have one happy camper. – Oh, I’ll fire up a couple days at Saratoga, and who knows maybe it will be a sweet win. But I’m happy none the less. – Age has given me a sense of calm and an appreciation of what matters most. – I’ve been writing for Winning Ponies since 2008, and this has been one of the times to sit down and talk about racing and what matters. I have light music in the background and just speak from my heart. – It’s the only way I know, and they have given me a platform to do what I love. – Good people who do great work. If you haven’t already, check them out and see for yourself. – Be sure to listen in on Thursday nights to the Winning Ponies Internet Show. One of my best friends is on, and he can spin a tale or just bring the best of racing to your ears. John Collins Engelhardt has been one of the best guys I’ve met in racing. He’s helped me land a few jobs, and has shown me more than I can remember. For that, I’m eternally grateful.

While we just started summer take some time and appreciate the days. – If you go to the races, take your time. Walk down and watch the horses saddle. Listen as trainers impart worldly wisdom as the riders get a leg up in the saddle. – Make your way to the rail and watch as the assistant starters jostle around keeping riders and horses safe. – Once the gates break feel the whooooosh of air as the horses blaze from the gate. Go the winner’s circle and watch the happy winners, and see the losers console and make plans for next time. – Nothing like it.  – Just take the time and head out for a day at the races. I think you’ll fall in love all over again.

The Happy Horseplayer

by Ed Meyer

posted on July 11, 2018 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>

As we break into the month of July the heat and humidity have taken the place of the cool crisp air. – Some of my favorite summer tracks are getting ready to open. – How can you not enjoy the historic Saratoga races? You’ll see the biggest outfits in the sport descend on the oldest race track in the country. – Or, if the Spa isn’t your cup of tea how about the one-of-a-kind place where the surf meets the turf? – Incredible racing at both and I know summer is in full bloom when they arrive. – I love to see the red and white canopies in New York and the sound of Bing Crosby at the end of the day at Del Mar singing ” Where the surf meets the turf.”

 

Summer brings turf into full swing. – I would rather bet the greensward than anything else. I’m pretty sure it began when I watched my first Arlington Million years ago at River Downs. – The simulcast explosion had not taken place, and what a treat it was to have one race being shown at our local track. – Teleprompter was ridden by Tony St. Ives in the “Miracle Million” where temporary stands were in place for the 35,000 in attendance. -A fire had ravaged the grandstand and clubhouse and the meet was moved to Hawthorne Race Course, but the first million-dollar race was still held at Arlington. – I guess if you cash a nice winner it’s a day you’ll always remember.

I enjoy all the seasons watching horse racing. But there’s something special about having the sun on your face watching them thunder for home. – It takes me back and reminds me of the days when I first fell in love with racing. Jogging from the parking lot with my dad and racing to the gates. I would walk to the paddock, and he would eventually allow me to make the trek alone when I became old enough.  I watched with baited breath seeing small-time claiming trainers saddle their runners. For me, it was better than having a front row seat on Derby Day. – Eventually, this is where I was allowed to make one or two place bets. I couldn’t wait until my dad would ask me who I liked. Once you get the call it means you are now a part of the club. – Nothing like summer racing and for me it holds many special memories.

As always I am still the grateful fan. Having a few bucks on a race gives you a thrill that is still hard to explain. It’s even better when then they win. – I get to see old faces and meet new ones.  Working at the track is a neat experience. There’s never been a day when my car pulled into the parking lot that I’ve regretted working there. – Oh, I won’t be a millionaire but my memories and experiences are worth more than money. – This year I’ve had many things to be grateful, and walking into the track is the cherry on my sundae. – As always, I ask you to take someone new to the races. It’s the best way to introduce someone to the greatest sport to watch and wager. Also, take someone who hasn’t been in awhile. Let the races be the greatest trip you’ll make all year. – Nothing like a day watching the ponies. The stories, the pre-race chatter, and the after race excuses. Nothing like spending some time with those you enjoy making a bet or two. – Until next month, this is the Happy Horseplayer wishing you the best of luck!

View From Above

by Ed Meyer

posted on July 11, 2018 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>

I have the best seat in the house at work. Think of it like a corner office in the city. You can see everything, and pretty much they can see me. – The families, the fans, and the gamblers. Best seat in the house I tell ya’. – I have watched fans from every walk and watching never gets old. The view has allowed me to guess pretty good on where you fit in the crowd. I’ve always said the fans are the best part of the game. If you don’t believe me just grab a seat up high and kick back and do a little people watching. It runs a close second to the action on the track.

 

The families

This is always good. – Little kids with Mom and Dad, or just sharing some time with grandpa. – They make their way down to the paddock and watch the 1,100 pound Thoroughbreds saddle up and walk in the ring. – They have the look of a boxer getting ready to climb in the ring to do battle. – They are close but far enough away to be safe. Some take pictures and others just soak in the sun watching them ready. – If you haven’t been down go ahead and make the walk down. It’s always a great place to get up close to the action.

Kids standing near the outer rail waiting for an out-riding pony to stop. They’re gentle but strong and the riders bring them by for the little ones to feel the velvet softness of a horse’s nose. – They gently brush their face and the pony riders give the kids mints to feed their horses. – Simple pleasures before the pony take the horses to the starting gate.

 

The Groups

They are easy to see. – They usually travel in a group, sit together, watch the race together, and leave together – They get there early to grab the tables near the rail. – The best place to catch the action and close enough to talk with others. These fans usually dress for the day and have special hats and bright summer clothes. – A day at the races has been on their calendar for months and you bet they’ll make plans for the next trip before they leave.

 

The Horseplayers

Also easy to see as they have a program rolled tight in their back pocket. A Daily Racing Form in hand, or a clipboard filled with notes. – Mostly they are alone and sometimes you’ll see a few in a group. – They are the lone wolf as it allows for quick and easy access to head up and make a bet. They make play simulcast or follow the live races. – Either way, they move on a dime and know exactly what time it is by which race is coming up. – They have been the lifeblood of the track since the first race took place.

 

Stoopers and Dumpster Divers

They walk around and have the agile ability of a soccer player kicking over a ticket. They’re looking for a lost or dropped ticket and sometimes they strike gold. You will see them in every part of the casino as well as they walk swiftly and look for machines that have a 10-cent balance left on the machine. – I was playing my favorite penny slot and left a 3-cent balance on the machine for the next lucky player to start on a win before pushing the buttons. – Out of the corner of my eye, I see a person converging on the abandoned machine like a hawk on its prey. – Tough way to gather a few pennies, but gamblers can be an odd sort at times.

Dumpster divers are the folks that you’ll see bending into the trash bin looking for a program. They won’t pay for one as it will cut into they’re betting money. I guess if they find one its a score. –  I see them walk along and look for empty tables or seats to grab up a tossed program. – Stoopers have been around since the beginning of time. I watched a man over the years do it so much he began to have a curved body shape. No kidding..

 

The track has always been the great melting pot of gamblers and fans alike. – You’ll see a little bit of everything if you sit back and watch in between races. – Sometimes the people watching is worth the trip alone. – The track has always been the place where you’ll see the construction worker and businessman rub shoulders and talk racing. I have always liked watching people go through their paces. Some sit in the same seat and others will stand in the same spot. You can see them easily, and over the years you’ll see them come and go. – Nothing like a day in the sun watching thundering horses run for the wire. I’ve always loved racing and I guess I’ll always will. – A day at the races on my off day is just like above. All except the dumpster diver and stooper. I did find a $50 ticket on the ground once but that’s the end of my lucky floor watching. – I used to go as a kid with my dad, and have taken my son on many occasions. I’ve taken bus trips and driven to the races alone. – Yeah, my window is the best seat in the house. You get a birdseye view for people watching and seeing the majestic horses take the track.

 

 

The Savior of Racing ?

For years I’ve been hearing tracks talk about what they need to survive. Not just to make a few more bucks, but survive. – I’m hearing of local tracks laying off long-time employees, cutting back to the bare bones and just limping along. But there may be a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not a train coming the other way.

I was reading this morning and it wasn’t about ponies and which races to bet. It was about sports wagering. – The Thoroughbred Daily News; The Delaware Lottery Commission is reporting that $7 million was wagered on sports at the state’s three racetracks from June 5 through June 24 and that the total revenue from the sports wagering was $1,000,247.

That’s not too bad if you ask me. I know it all doesn’t go into the track bank account, but it may be the savior we’ve been looking for. I’me sure the horsemen would have no beef with the new gambling. “After the state and the companies operating the sports books took their share, $352,256 was left over. Delaware Park, which easily out-handled both harness tracks, took in $263,924 in revenue and $62,715 was added to the purse account. There were 50,934 individual wagers made during the 20-day period at Delaware.”

Tracks in the Kentucky / Ohio area are facing some intense competition. – From my front door, there are two Thoroughbred tracks which offer live and simulcast wagering, two harness tracks that offer the same and three full fledged casinos. These places of gambling are all less than one hour from my house. – Instant Racing is all the rage in Southern Kentucky at Kentucky Downs. – The place is gorgeous and has the only undulating European turf course in the nation. In addition, they have offered charitable gaming bingo and were one of the largest sellers of lottery products in the state. – If you’re not familiar with the location it is right on the border of Kentucky and Tennessee.

I don’t think Tennessee even has a lottery. – There is no competition and they are 30 minutes away from Nashville. – They are surrounded by the Lucky Lotto store, Kentucky State Line Bingo and Steve’s Pawn Shop. – There’s not a dig at the gem of Kentucky gambling as they have gone after the brass ring and found them all. They offer a glitzy state-of-the-art facility, great food, entertainment and some of the best racing in the country. – They have a feel of a county fair meeting Las Vegas. Kentucky Downs has done nothing wrong and always striving to grow and give players a one-of-a-kind experience.

Racing in my area doesn’t need watered down video lottery games as a full-fledged casino is 12 miles away. – It’s too late for that boat, it’s on the bottom of the sea. – I think the state of Kentucky can take a real cue from Delaware on sports gambling. I know it’s going to take some time, but that’s the process. We better start now so we can save Kentucky jobs, save racing in the form of bigger purses and allow tracks to have a real form of growing gambling products. – How many people do you know make a bet on the big game? – Or, how many like to bet the local teams playing ball tonight? – Plenty……

The Happy Horseplayer

 

 

 

The summer is in full swing as heat and humidity replaced the snow and cold. – No complaints from this end. – There’s a great deal going on in my world of racing and life. The month of July is special and hopefully, it will hold a lucky streak at the windows as well.

We’ll kick the month off with my birthday on Sunday, July 1st. – I look at birthdays for little kids and old folks. Neither fits, but I’ll celebrate this one with gratitude. – It’s been a rough 8 months, but things are looking good. I’m grateful for health, family and friends. If a winner or two comes my way I’ll accept it with a smile on my face. – This year is special. I’m grateful and content. I have a good son, my family is with me and friends who greet me with open arms. – What more could a man ask for? – If you’re celebrating a birthday this month, enjoy your day and be thankful for all the wonderful moments.

Perry Ouzts has a birthday as well on 7/7/18 – He will be 64 years young. – He’s a long way from Lepanto, Arkansas and 6,942 wins under his belt on his way to 7,000. – Perry still knows how to get a horse to break sharp and grab the lead. He rides like that young kid at Beulah in 1973 when he had his first winner aboard Rablu. – With every win, he slowly jogs his horse back to the winner’s circle enjoying every step. You can see it on his face as it’s another day at the office doing what he does best. – Happy Birthday, “Scoot n Boot.” – Long may you ride!

As New York gets ready to open Saratoga. I have to admit it has become one of my favorite tracks. – They call it “The Graveyard of Favorites,” and can be tough to cash if you’re a chalk player. – It runs in trends and you can have a $3.20 winner then the next lights up the tote board. – I’ve had a lot of luck with the Ortiz brothers, John Velasquez, Manny Franco and Jose Lezcano aboard a couple live longshots. – As we draw closer I’ll keep you up to speed with free selections and hot riders and horses to watch. – The Spaaaaah is coming soon, and get your bankroll ready.

As we enjoy the summer sun on our face. Make this the month you take someone new to the races. – There is nothing like sharing the experience with a youngster or a racing fan who hasn’t been to the track in awhile. Take the time and make your way down to the paddock. Watch them warm up on the track and take a few photos of the day. You’ll look back with fond memories. – I still do every day I walk into the races. – I can still see that young man walking with his dad in the summer sun rooting for claimers at River Downs. There’s not a day I don’t think of the fun we had. He showed me the beauty and pagentry, and especially the one-of-a-kind action that only horse racing provides. – I’ve taken my son a handful of times and he enjoyed his trips. He just didn’t take to it like I did with my dad, but times have changed. – Call that old friend and get together. There’s nothing like racing in the summer. You better hurry because it won’t last forever. - Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies!

 

Try Something New ?

by Ed Meyer

posted on June 27, 2018 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | 1 Comment >>

I’ve worked in racing for many moons. Long ago, it was the only game in town and all you had to do was keep the lights on. – Not any more. – There are so many places to get your bet on and enjoy a little action. From my doorstep, there are six racinos /casinos and four racetracks only 40-50 minutes away. Talk about competition. – Every day the most overused word at the track is handle. You know, the churn, the drop, the bottom line. – Tracks are spending more time trying to create wagers that will save the day and there seems to be little traction. So what’s the industry to do?

Tracks have been fighting for the longest time. Not fist to fist but trying to out-do the other. – I guess competition is good but what would happen if they tried to work together for once? – Because if they squeeze out all of the other competition it will be a short-term win, and fans will end up losing interest. – With that little thought in mind. Here are a few ideas that may make a dent in the handle and have a little fun in the process.

 

The Triple Double

It can be a 50-cent base wager, and the idea is to win the 1st, middle, and late daily double. – All three have to win to get the cash. – It may start off a little slow at first, but when the pool gets up around $5,000. You can bet dollars to doughnuts the fans on track will make a wager and players wagering off-site will surely drop a few bucks on this new bet with a 100% carryover.

The T-3

Following the idea of the Triple Double, the idea would be to hit the first trifecta, the middle and the last race trifecta. – The wager can have a 20-cent minimum and be a good way to chase a nice payday. – As always, new wagers take some time as racing fans are fickle. It takes a little extra time for a wager to sink in, and once it does it could be a pleasant surprise. – If there are small fields or a race coming off the turf, the track can change the wager to other races. This keeps the pool growing and reward lucky winners with nice payouts and a 100% carryover.

The Big E

Keeping in line with the above wagers, it involves the exacta. – You must hit the first two exactas and the last two on the race card. – If there are no winners, it will be a 100% carryover. - A 50-cent base wager will make it more attractive and players will take a shot. Who knows? – It may be a whole lotta fun and a shot to win a nice score.

In the Money

A 20-cent base wager where you have to be 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in every race for the entire card to win. – This may be an excellent wager to get new players involved at a lower cost. – If you have a scratch, you’ll get the post time win pool favorite so you’ll always have a runner. – If you’re feeling lucky, you may be “In the Money.”

 

The idea is to make the game fun. Get people involved, and you may see the handle jump a bit. – The odds of hitting the Powerball are 1 in 292.2 million, and Mega Millions is 1 in 302.5 million. – We all drop in a few bucks knowing there’s a better chance of making back to back hole-in-ones while standing on one leg. – We can’t keep using the same wagers as other tracks and expect astronomical spikes in the handle. I think if we try and make the wagers fun by chasing a nice pool. I’m sure they will grow in time. – Think about the wagers we’ve seen and still do: The Omni, The Swinger, Odd and Even and The Jockey 7 Wager. – I’m not picking one or more I like, but I respect the effort of trying something new. These are wagers that might catch on, and if they do you’ll have a little something extra in the handle report.

 

Behind the Scenes

by Ed Meyer

posted on June 21, 2018 in General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>

Some folks come to the track and think it just came together. But that being far from the truth, there is a story and a behind the scenes tale about all involved. With the Belmont in our rearview mirror sometimes we forget all that went into the day to make it great. Justify is “immortal” in the words of Larry Collmus becoming the 13th Triple Crown winner in history. If you missed the race, you missed a piece of racing history. I haven’t seen anything like this since Secretariat, and the comparisons will keep on coming for years to come. – But there is plenty that goes on behind the scenes that make us scratch our heads and look with amazement. Here are a couple of tidbits that are sure to make the story even sweeter.

 

Bob Baffert is one-of-a-kind, to say the least. – I’ve had the pleasure of watching and having him on a radio show. – His brand of “California Cool” is something that doesn’t come in a bottle and you can’t learn in night school. – I’ve watched him evolve into one of the best trainers ever, and he did it with an “aw shucks” attitude. – But here is a little more on how Bob Baffert found his way into the sport of kings.

 

http://www.kvoa.com/story/38392200/hittin-his-border-ranch-bob-bafferts-horse-racing-legacy

 

In case you missed it or were out playing golf. Here’s another clip of what you missed the day Justify went to post in Belmont 150.

 

As we watched in wonder as Justify ran into the pages of history. There was a great deal of work that went into the show. Not just the horse, trainer and rider. It’s not the owners who made a huge investment. – It’s behind the scenes that incredible work went into play so we could enjoy the moment. – And to think, I thought it all came together magically.

 

https://ql.mediasilo.com/#ql/5b202794e4b0a2d0889815fa/6870bb8c-4770-441c-b601-c20c44fd5973

 

Celebrating Dad

by Ed Meyer

posted on June 21, 2018 in General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>

 

 

Racing fans rolled in through the doors with more kids than usual. I liked to see the families coming to the races as it took me back. – Back to a time when we would be sitting under a maple tree with blankets spread wide. The sun would shine through the leaves that made our camp cool for the day.  The smell of fried chicken wafted through the picnic baskets, and if you were good my grandma would give you a deviled egg. My dad and grandpa would venture off to do battle with cheap claimers as the kids hung back with my mom and grandma. – It was a family outing. Memorial Day, Father’s Day and maybe one additional trip. The family was together and my love of racing began at a young age.

No phones or games and kids weren’t hunkered around a TV. – Simpler times spending time together. – I’m pretty sure this was the last era that didn’t have 200 channels and games galore. Just hearing my grandma speak and laugh was more fun than any video game. It was all in the backdrop of live racing action at River Downs. – Later my dad and gramps would venture back over for a plate and we would eat together. I guess that is a rarity these days as we eat in shifts and grab something on the run. – Sometimes we’re so busy going and doing we forget to have a seat and take our time. – The times we’ll remember long after the people we loved are gone.

I watched two little ones stand near the rail to pet an outrider’s pony. – She guided him close and lowered the head of a beautiful chestnut. The kids delighted in a simple pleasure of petting and touching the big horse. The smell of a horse can stay with you forever. There’s nothing like it.

Fast forward 25 years and I was working at River Downs. – The big maple has long been cut down and the picnic area a memory. – My job was director of marketing, and with the help of John Englehardt. We would have games for the kids and face painting after a pony ride. We both came from that era, and bringing back to life the family fun was important. There were t-shirts and flowers given out on Mother’s Day and track hats with a sharp logo for Dad’s Day. – Two middle age men who loved the time growing up wanted to pass it along. It wasn’t about handle and betting on these days but having family fun at the races. – John was doing this 25 years before I got there, and I was shown the old ways still were fun. These were some of the best times working at the track. – As I left the races yesterday I heard two older gents talking as one said; “they must have run out of caps before we got here.” – That made me smile on my walk to the car.

When I see an old cap on the head of a handicapper it makes me happy. It takes me back to sweating in the lower grandstand area passing out hats to all the players who had a coupon. – Greeting fans and friends and talking to the people one-on-one. No email or generic letter. Just a little banter about the horses and who we liked. The racing fans loved it. The small little track along the river took people back. The fun of the day and the celebration of dad gave us a little break and allowed us to make a little trip back to simpler times. – These days I’ll remember forever.

There’s too much emphasis on big money buffets and top-price seating. Gone are the way of simple games, coloring books and pony rides. – The doors just open and you hope people come. – I can still see the interns having fun with the kids, and our advertising partners putting on a show of fun and frivolity. Simple times they’ll always remember. It’s been 10 years since then and I can remember each and every one. I doubt I’ll forget seeing the crowds and families rolling through the doors. – It was a simpler time that made an enjoyable day for all. – It’s not the big maple tree and a family picnic, but the days spending time with the families was the best work we could ever love.

Lucky Number 13

Image may contain: text

 

 

 

 

The Triple Crown has been won and “lucky #13″ is in the books. – Justify is undefeated and has done nothing wrong to date. But after the race there’s usually some hullabaloo about something that transpired. – He jumped from the gate, drew off quickly and settled in for a 1 1/2 gallop into the history books. – I can hear the intro music of Law and Order keyed up in the background and that means the talk begins.

According to the New York Post;

Queens native Mike Repole, co-owner of fourth-place Vino Rosso and last-place Noble Indy in the field of 10, hopes Belmont Park stewards will question jockey Florent Geroux about his handling of Restoring Hope, Justify’s stablemate, for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

“Justify is a super horse. He is a Triple Crown winner and he’s undefeated,” said Repole, emphasizing his admiration for the powerful, 6-for-6 colt. “But I can see the stewards looking into this over the next couple of days. I probably expect them to look into reckless riding by Florent and bring him in to question him about what he was thinking and what his tactics were.”

While Justify and Mike Smith, his Hall of Fame rider, smoothly accelerated after breaking from the rail to seize the early lead, Geroux rode vigorously to hustle Restoring Hope toward the front. He soon assumed a position just behind Justify and to his outside.

“It definitely seemed to me he was more of an offensive lineman than a racehorse trying to win the Belmont,” said Repole of 37-1 Restoring Hope, “and Justify was a running back trying to run for a touchdown.”

Gary West, who owns Restoring Hope, was livid about the handling of his horse.

Once upon a time this would’ve been called “race riding.” – Jockeys rode in tight company with midnight tales of riders locking boots and using the stick to intimidate other horses. – I guess those times have gone by the wayside for the most part and when we see or read about a questionable tactic. It makes us cringe and wonder if there’ll be an asterisk next to the name of the 13th Triple Crown winner.

When I watched the race I saw a little race riding going on. – I dismissed it, and thought it was me over-thinking the race. So much on the line and history weighed in the balance. – Sometimes we see things that aren’t really there. – We’re not wishing for things, but we can be guilty of watching too closely. – But in this case, maybe my first initial thought held some validity. Take another look and watch them down the backstretch.

Florent Geroux has been the newest name on the up-and-coming rider list. The French-born rider has been as talented as anyone and his talent was garnering him live mounts on some of the big name runners. – D. Wayne Lukas has been the “Coach” for as long as I remember and as the elder statesman of racing his words are gold. – ” D. Wayne Lukas, who trained sixth-place Bravazo, does not believe Restoring Hope’s presence mattered. But he acknowledged: “That was strange the way they sent him up there. I mean, he compromised a few horses with blocking and so forth.”

I guess the New York Post was on to something as I went back and re-thought the entire race. – In the end I came out with this. If the Stewards need to chat with him, so be it. If there is a fine. Pay it. – But the results will remain the same and there is a 13th Triple Crown winner. – In sports there has been numerous plans to gain an edge. – How many “spitballs” were thrown in baseball? – How many unsportsmanlike hits in the NFL? What about NASCAR where teams of racers run “block” for a teammate? – If there is an edge to gain many will take it. Did this happen, you make the call. – In the meantime congratulate Smith and Baffert. They ran a hell of a race and Justify is in the history books.

The Happy Horseplayer

Another month passes, and racing action is beginning to heat up. There’s nothing like Thoroughbreds thundering home in the summer sun. – The Triple Crown is upon and my excitement is at a fever pitch. But when a Triple Crown hopeful is on the line, the joy of watching the historic event is that much sweeter. – What makes your inner-racing fan happy? Is it the beauty of the majestic horses? Could it be the history that weighs in the balance? Or maybe you’re looking for a big score at the windows. Any of the above would be just fine, but for me, it reminds me of the many years of standing in the summer sun with my dad. The ride to the track and the post-race trek home. There was nobody more in the world I wanted to go to the races with, and this Saturday is more special than others.

 

Belmont Birthday Boy

 

My dad, August E. Meyer turns 75-years-young this Saturday. – He’s seen many races, photos, and excitement that only horse racing could provide. He was the guy who took me to my first races. We would drive the backroads to Latonia or River Downs and catch the last few races. – I would relish every moment and celebrate every win. – He taught me to read the program and understand his passion for the sport. Speed. He loves to play early runners who break from the gate and play a little game called “catch me if you can.” – You won’t see his wagers with the “Silky Sullivan” type runners. His philosophy about speed could harken back to his days as an athlete, or maybe it’s just his nature to jump out and take control. – Either way, this Saturday my handicapping buddy has a birthday. He’ll be 75 and I sure hope he gets to see a Triple Crown winner. But I’m sure he won’t be cheering for the chalk as he loves to beat the favorite. – Happy birthday, Dad. We all love you…

 

Pass it on

 

I see people every day at the track, and nothing does my heart good than to see one passing to another. – I work with some people who are new to the races and they stop and ask questions. – Nothing better than to share your love of the game. – There is one young lady who has no clue about horse racing. When she sheepishly started asking me questions; I told her just relax and let the game come to you. – I’ll help along the way, and as the old saying goes “there are no silly questions.” I told her my love of the sport came through years of watching and wagering. It’s not something you can learn in a day and night school won’t help. – You have to be there. Experience the races and go from there. – I’m watching as she learns, and her questions show interest in racing. I think before long she’ll make her first trek to the races with her friends, and her plans to see Keeneland in the fall will only add to the love of the game. – “You keep asking and I’ll keep answering.” – I think she’ll be pretty excited this Saturday when she witnesses the Belmont Stakes. The chance to see history in the making with the backdrop of a packed crowd at the track will light her inner-racing fan. Good luck, kiddo!

 

It wouldn’t do the game justice if we didn’t show the 1973 Belmont. – Just watching Secretariat draw off and win by 31 lengths is still enough to give chills. – Sit back and listen to the late-great “Chic” Anderson as he paints the canvas on this historic day. It’s been 45 years to the day, and it still feels like yesterday. - Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies!