Track Tales

by Ed Meyer

posted on September 13, 2010 in General Discussion | No Comments >>

After spending most of my adult life working in racing, I have found it to be a special world within the world. The track is a special throwback to the old days; the way things used to be.

Do you remember your first trip out? Was it with an uncle, or your dad? How about grandpa? The place was packed, and filled with smoke from all types….. You had to wait in lines everywhere, and energy seemed to ooze from the walls. This was the track: the pageantry, the beauty, and the exciting finish… All too good to be true if it was a $4,000 claimer, or the Derby…

Have you ever wondered where the horses go when you are cashing your tickets and getting your beer?

They are in the hands of some of the best people in the world. Most will not be royalty, but kings and queens all the same. The race game is 7-days-a-week, and there are few vacations, unless you are the upper crust lucky. The horses go back to be cooled out… This is a walking process that takes around an hour…. Just like any high class athlete, they have to cooled down, or there could be problems. There are many muscles in a 1,300 lb runner, and they must be treated gently.

As big as they come, they are so fragile. They get a bath, and are walked around again… Once the cool-out time is through, then they get a large helping of sweet feed of oats, grains, and a maple syrup type binder for flavor. Some of the big trainers even add in a can of beer. Mix it up, and pour a little warm water, an instant goodness. The cheap horses eat the same as the good, but they require much more attention.

Now, this is if all goes well. If they get nicked up, or have some run-down areas (like giant open blisters), they have to be tended because they can’t go to the doctor, and a vet can get expensive if you miss a little problem.

This is also compounded by the fact that they don’t have multiple horses running. Then, they must hire a person or two to take care of this action. By the time you are going home for the day, they have about two or three more hours and then they can call it Miller Time! This is about square for the day. They get up at 5 a.m., and they go until the races are over and they feed for the final time. This does take into consideration looking at other horses, taking care of their stock, and maybe just a little life….

Five o’ clock comes early… It really comes at the same time every day, but a handful of folks start their day with coffee in hand and the smell of liniment wafts through the air. The day holds promise and truth. As people have opinions, the horses have answers, as the great D. Wayne Lukas would say. So, think about the sport when you watch those runners walk back to the barn just after the fifth race. There is more than meets the eye, and for our entertainment, there are many who love the game. They treat their runners better than they do themselves, and it is all for our enjoyment.