Class Dismissed

by Ed Meyer

posted on March 6, 2012 in General Discussion, Horse Racing | No Comments >>

ProfessorThe sun was shining through the windows. The students had checked out for summer break once again. With nothing but time, and the love of a sport, a man who dedicated his life to doing for others was going to do a little something for himself.

His parents had long passed away, and his friends were in the shape of cohorts at the high school where he taught for over 30 years. He loved the horses, and each summer there was a map and plan made to visit as many tracks before the autumn leaves would blow. This may have seemed like an endless journey for most, but for a true fan, it was the summer adventure that only the bravest of hearts could enjoy.

Mr. P was that man. He toiled in classrooms for all of his life, and his main passion began with the sound of the starting gate bell. His journey would begin with a long drive with an old student, and now friend, who was a bit of a gambling junkie. He made good company, and minus the all night drinking, this was the perfect person to have in the car with you.

The trip began with attending Belmont, or “Big Sandy”, as the regulars would call this palace; the sweeping turns, and the long stretch seemed to go on forever. The turf was lush and green, and you could smell the richness of the backside from any seat in the grandstand. You could say it was a great beginning. There would always be a little harness action at night, or an occasional dog track to be complete. This was the order of the day, and what better place could a man ask to be?

After seeing Belmont, they visited some country fair circuits that have name changes with the seasons. Then, when Monmouth Park would open the doors along the shore, it seemed as if it would be an eternal summer of pleasure. Watching the New Jersey riders ply their trade and tan in the sun all the while chasing the winner’s circle. After the stay in New Jersey, the trek would lead them to Saratoga, the track where history can be found in every corner. You could smell it in the air, and this teacher was the student. If you listened closely, you could hear the thundering hooves of champions gone by at the Spa.

Upon leaving the Spa, you could feel the calendar creeping up. It was only a matter of time before school was in session, and it was time to begin the ride home. They would hit Thistledown in Cleveland, and mosey on down the turnpike to West Virginia to catch some cheap claimers at Waterford Park. This place would be the launching ground for the final furlong home. Upon hitting the border of Kentucky, a fan could only think of hitting the fair circuit of Russell Springs for cheap claimers and runners who came straight off the farm. Then onto Ellis Park to endure the brutal summer heat for a few days, and then the 7-hour drive home. There would only be two weeks left until school began, and they would visit local tracks such as River Downs during the day, and catch the harness action of Latonia at night.

As the students filed in the room, and the sun shone through the window pane, his thoughts would wander a bit when the class was still. Where would he go next summer? Would it be in California, or should he venture down to Mexico and catch some ponies? Either way would be fine, as he had nothing but time. Time to plan, time to enjoy, and time to do what he loved.