I love the people in racing. I always want to know how you’re doing and if you’re picking any winners. – I know more about most local horse players than they know about me, and that was by design. The patrons who support racing are the lifeblood and what they say is important. – But this week is different. I want readers, players, or fans of the sport who have known me for a long time to know a little about me. This is a big week as far as numbers, and I’m more grateful than words can express.
Turning 50-years-old is not a declaration of the end, but a reflection of what you have accomplished. We don’t know how much precious time we have, and as a man who is drawing in a golden birthday here are some words of thanks and gratitude.
I was raised in a small town in Ludlow, Kentucky. My parents Kay (Cooke) and Ed Meyer, and my brother Don all lived in a small cottage at 624 Linden St. – It was the best place in the world to grow up, and may be the last of the best times to be a kid. There was swimming, playing ball, and going to school when life still made sense. It was about as close to Mayberry as possible. A movie theatre, playground, ball fields, cook outs, sleepovers, and great friends. – Most I attended school with from kindergarten to graduation. My grandparents lived there as well, and life couldn’t have been better. – This was the time I was introduced to horse racing by my Dad. We would make trips to Latonia, River Downs, Beulah, Lebanon Raceway, Louisville Downs, Churchill, Keeneland, and a few dog tracks as I got older. I am grateful my parents are still with me, and my brother is my best friend. – There couldn’t have been a better place to grow up than Ludlow.
I’ve had the greatest opportunities to meet some of the best people in the world. It’s not always the marquee names that mean the most, but the ones you can count on when the chips are down or a celebration is in order. – I’m one of the luckiest guys in the world and trying to name all of the incredible people who mentored me, taught me, corrected me, and stood by my side during good and bad times would fill a phone book. For those too young, that’s what we used to use to look up a number and call those we needed to speak with. – Thank you for standing by me, helping me, and spending time with me.
I attended college after working in construction, and this time taught me that hard work was more than a four letter word. – I was preparing to be a teacher and along the way had some of the neatest jobs to pay my bills. As I graduated from Northern Kentucky University, my Dad asked me if I wanted a college ring or would I like to join him and his wife Sandy to Las Vegas. – If you ever see my hand you won’t see a college ring. Going to Las Vegas that first time only perked my interest to what would lay ahead. – I looked for a teaching job and was a substitute teacher. I loved the kids, but couldn’t find a job in my area. Lucky for me those summer jobs at two different race tracks turned into incredible opportunities to do what I loved.
I’ve had the opportunity to start in the parking lot at Turfway Park and made it all the way to Player Development Manager. I did in-house handicapping, radio shows, and even called races at the track I grew up with as a kid. – At River Downs I started as kid in the parking lot. These were the greatest summers of my life. – It would be a phone call from John Engelhardt years later asking me to interview for the Director of Marketing job that led me to another sweet chapter of doing what I loved. – Thanks, John. River Downs was a great place to learn about racing and develop a friendship with you. – When River Downs was purchased by a casino interest, another door opened at Keeneland. If anyone who loves racing as much as I do has a chance to work at the greatest track in the world. Please, don’t think twice. I can only imagine what it is like to walk through the tunnel at Yankee stadium. Keeneland made me feel like a New York Yankee the day I started. – I met some of the best people in the world, and especially one in particular. He is a professional man who leads by example, shows compassion, kindness, and the patience to allow people to grow. – Thank you, Brad Lovell. – Once again my phone rang after my time with Keeneland, and it was my old friend John Engelhardt. He was calling me to ask if I would be interested in trying my hand at calling the races and setting the morning line at the new River Downs – Belterra Park. – I am still there as you read this, and to this day this is the best job I have ever had in racing.
I wanted to go to Lebanon Raceway on a Saturday night, and my cousin said he would drive. Little did I know he had other plans for me that evening. When he hit the interstate he drove south toward Lexington instead of north to Lebanon. I started screaming and complaining so bad he started crying. But he didn’t stop. – When we arrived in Lexington at a birthday party at his girlfriend’s house, he introduced me to a beautiful young lady who was her room mate. They had just graduated from college, and she was psychiatric nurse at Eastern State Hospital. – The night he tricked me into going to a party introduced me to my future wife Shonda White. – We hit it off from the start and she moved to Northern Kentucky to work and be with me. – That may have been my biggest winning day for not going to the track. – On October 1, 2000. We had a baby boy who would be named after me, my father, and his late-grandfather. August Edward Meyer IV is the greatest joy in my life. – We have had some incredible times, and others that are just too sad for words. Being a single Dad raising my son has been the greatest joy a man could ever ask. I know his Mother watches over him and is very proud of the young man he is becoming.
As this handicapper, father, son, brother, friend, and partner looks back over the last 50 years. I reflect with joy in my heart. I am so grateful that words can’t truly explain my feelings. – As I write this entry, I would like to thank the incredible guys at Winning Ponies. We have been together since 2008, and they have kindly allowed me to be a part of their team. – Nobody knows what the future holds, and I optimistically look forward to future adventures and being the Dad of Gus Meyer. – I have been the luckiest guy you’ve ever met in your travels. When you see me walking into the track this Friday afternoon. Know you’re seeing the happiest man on the planet. I get to do what my heart desires, and go home to the greatest gift in the world. That my friends is time well spent.