Things That Almost Did Not Happen

by Ed Meyer

posted on January 13, 2009 in General Discussion | No Comments >>

As a handicapper, horse-player, and all-around gambler, I have seen things that make grown men cry; or laugh, depending on your sense of humor. Here are a few things to think about as you recall some of your favorites.

How about the day that I was a young lad who saved up his money and took $100 to the track. It was the biggest day of the year, and I was going to take down the house. I was 18 years old.

I had plenty of close calls all day, but with one race to go, I had a crisp $20 bill left in my pocket. I loved a runner who was 9-2 and I wheeled him on top for a total of $20. Well, I had never lost $100 at the track. So I went back to the teller and cashed my ticket in, and proceeded to use him on top of everyone except one lone horse who was 60-1. I was going home with $2, and they would not break me.

My horse ran away by ten with a 1/16th of a mile to go, and a bevy of price runners were battling for second money. Needless to say, that one circled them all at 60-1, and ran second. I cried all the way to the car. The exacta paid $600… But, I still had my deuce in my pocket. The lesson? Never play with scared money.

It was Arlington Million day. The track looked beautiful, and I was there with my friend. I was winning like a man on fire!!! My dad told me never to quote numbers of bets, but for the sake of this horrible story, I was up about $2,500. All day long, and the big race was coming….

It was 2003, and the day was hot. I didn’t care as I was hotter than the Georgia asphalt. I had pick-3’s, pick-4’s, supers, trifectas, and $200 to win and place aboard a runner by the name of Storming Home. Everything was put into this race aboard a lukewarm 5-2 shot.

Gary Stevens in the saddle made me start counting my money. I stood to win over $15,000 with this runner. It all came down to my favorite rider, with the best turf race in the country.

Well, by now you have Googled my results. Storming Home won. He looked so great, and did it powerfully… Right at the wire, Gary Stevens came off his mount. I thought it was past the wire, and when I saw him moving on the ground, I was hopeful for my favorite rider, but already counting my money. The crowd was in awe, but it was past the wire. It was at that time I saw the jumbotron in the infield. It was close, very close to being at the wire when he came off. I was still convinced I was going home in a limo, and taking the money in a check as to not lose any back in a final race. After 20 minutes later, the inquiry sign came down, and so did my horse. The stewards felt it happened before the wire. It was the longest 6-hour ride home known to man…. The lesson? Never count your chickens before they hatch.

Well, I swore off of the Arlington Million forever… At least until next year…

It was the same scene, and all the same players. I was only up about $2,000 this day, and it wasn’t Gary Stevens in the saddle. It was a young rider by the name of Jamie Spencer from Australia in the 22nd Million.

Those black silks circled the field as they were tied to a post. He was the best in the field, and at a sweet price, he would make up for last year and then some… It was with an eighth of a mile to go that he came over a bit to seal off the rail. He just didn’t look under his left arm. He made it a little tight on Kicken Kris. Powerscourt came down like a cool summer rain…. Once again, it was a long ride home. The lesson? The same dog can bite you twice.

Now, with these couple of stories that sound like bitching (and they are), I have a million memories that make me smile until I cry. The car rides with my dad to every track we attended. I could never put a dollar amount on those. The day my cheap claimer won for the first time, and my entire family was there. Some are gone now, but in that photo were happy people that made my day sweeter just by being there. The countless days working in racing. The first day I got my chance to step behind the mic and call races for part of the summer of 2008.

I am sure you have yours as well… If not, get out and make some. The game is great, but the people and the memories are what last a lifetime. The lesson? Take time no matter what you do and create some happy memories. They will last a lifetime. Yours, and many others….