Working in racing has allowed me to see just about everything. I have seen things that would make you laugh until you cry, and things that touch your heart and have you weeping like a child. All in all, I wouldn’t trade it for anything….
The Lottery Picker:
Pete was a guy who loved the action, but hated to do any homework….. He would have little pill balls in a plastic bottle. If it sounds familiar, you must have watched a horse entry draw. Depending on the race, Pete would drop in the same amount of balls. He would shake them up during the post parade, and stop when the announcer would call the field. He had his method, and don’t you dare try and change him!
He would draw out four numbers, and bet them in a $1 exacta box, $1 trifecta box, and a $1 super box.. He would bet $4 to win on the first number he drew no matter what.
Now, most would laugh off his method. But, I have recalled many winners he took down. This gave him plenty of time to drink beer, and play gin with his wife or a partner that would come in her place. Pete enjoyed the races, and kept up on all of the industry. He was a banker by trade, and it was his theory that the numbers don’t lie. Sometimes he was right, and sometimes he was out. But, Pete could be heard shaking that brown plastic bottle calling out the numbers just like a bingo….He was always happy, and never left with a frown. He would always say he’ll get ‘em the next day. I wish we had 100 more guys like Pete…..
Retired and happy, Joey Z. brought his three grand babies to the big table in the dining room. He always arrived early, and would get the best table in the house. The babies started off as two, and grew to three. He would bring a large bag that fits under his stroller for two. They were filled with toys, diapers, and lunch for the kids. He ate a club sandwich and coffee during the day. J.Z. always left a nice tip, and it was the biggest of the day for a server. He would ask for servers in rotation, as he always left a big tip and wanted to make sure everyone got their share. Maybe it was because he was nice, or maybe it was because Joey’s daughter worked two jobs, and one was waiting tables. He watched the kids every day, and they came to the races with gramps. Joey was a good fella, and always took care of the babies. I guess he was the race track version of “Mr. Mom.”
I have never known his name all of these years. But this big guy used to run with four other loud dudes with booming voices. He would bitch and cry after each race, and would constantly be kicking over tickets to find winners that were dropped, or thrown away. Sometimes “the stooper” would hit the jackpot… I remember once that this man from Jersey found a pick-four ticket worth $3,000! I guess that hunched back and sore neck came with a price. If he never finds another dime, “The Stooper” will be a legend as the man who found the big one…..
The track has always been the big melting pot. If you work there long enough, you will see a dad carrying his kid, and through the years he will walk on his own, and usually end up with his own program. I have seen families come and go, and people greet me daily. Some were kind, and others were quiet. I can’t really remember any problems, or maybe it is because that I do not choose to carry them with me. At the end of the day, I am always a winner. Where else can you have constant action every 15 minutes, and people chasing their pot of gold? Racing is unique. It is a place of gaming with history and pagentry. How many people have been coming to play the same slot machine for thirty years? I know folks that sit in the same seats, and others that eat the same food, and talk to the same folks. They are creatures of habit, and you will never see anything like a race track any place on earth.