Getting Started

by Ed Meyer

posted on November 3, 2008 in General Discussion | No Comments >>

As a horseplayer, I love the opportunity to go to the races. Something about walking in the doors makes you forget about the problems you have left at the door. You can pick them back up as you leave if you wish. But a day at the track beats pretty much everything.

I started off as many. It could have been Uncle Phil, Grandpa sneaking out, going with the family or just being introduced to the game at a later date. Any which way you lay the foundation, you are ready to begin a wonderful journey. Here is a little about me. See if any (or many) fit your introduction. I would bet dollars to donuts that we have some common ground.

I was introduced to the races at a young age by my Father. I like to call him my Dad, it sounds more like your friend. We had many adventures, shared many memories and it still is the glue that holds may conversations together. Here are a few briefs that give you a glimpse into my life. I think you’ll see some similar stories.

* I was always with my Dad at the races as a young boy. At first, it was boring and a pain. When he gave me my $5 to play with for the day, I was hooked.

* Can you remember your first Daily-Double, Exacta or winner? I can…. My first D/D was at Latonia. It was snowing harder by the minute and a cancellation was imminent. That didn’t stop us from forging on while we could. I caught a $12 D/D with jockey Carl Faulkner. He not only was a rider, he doubled as a fireman. The third race canceled the card for 10 days and hence the blizzard of ’78.

* I was allowed to tag along. At first it was a “get out of the house” card for my Dad, but I became a regular. I picked up Daily Racing Forms and started my education.

* I read the paper daily. Not for the comics, but for the racing section. I had to keep up on the game. It was always on my mind, and every Saturday afternoon I waited with baited breath for Dad to ask that golden question: “Do you want to ride out for the last couple of races?” Those words were a symphony.

* Back before the simulcast explosion, everyone had a guy to get a bet down with. Ours was a back room in a bar where men would read the DRF to look for winners. I was in high school, and loved to bet the races. I had a few rules: stay out of trouble, make good grades and don’t get involved with the stuff kids find as a part of growing up. I was rewarded with $20 per week allowance to make calls to an aged bookmaker. He handled my grandpa’s wagers, my Dad’s, and now mine. I looked forward to that $20 per week. It kept me out of trouble and allowed me to enjoy the races. I know Ward and June Cleaver would have objected. But my Dad was little more realistic. He knew his son and knew what I loved. Call it an allowance. Either way, those days were golden; listening to races on the radio and waiting for the paper. By the way, my first bookmaker winner was Lt. Bert at Oaklawn Park. He paid $20 to win. My Dad had the paper laid on the kitchen table folded open to see my result. What a way to kick start my day. I’ll never forget it…..

I started working at the track, and gradually moved up the ladder. I graduated from college, but received my masters degree in handicapping 101. The races have always held my heart. Only next to my son, are they as much fun to watch.

Think back to the days when you made your first trips to the track. The sights, the smells and the action…. The best part was being there, and if you were lucky, it was who you were with. No matter what, you were already a winner.