It is that time of the year again. I am another year older, and hopefully a little bit wiser. Well, the first is true, but the second is still up for grabs. I wasn’t around when President Kennedy was assassinated, but I do recall some great music of the 70’s. I have watched Derbies, Darbie’s, and cheap claimers run. The year brought opportunity, happiness, and sorrow. I guess getting another year older is not a punishment. It may be the best gift one could ever imagine.
Last year found me doing good, but not great at the windows. I have dedicated some thought to the subject, and for better or worse here it comes. This past year has taught me patience, and this has allowed me to stay active longer. I always strive for better money management, and this allowed me to focus and wait for my opportunity. I have done better than in the past two years, but 2012 is only at the half way point. I attribute any knowledge I have gained from watching and getting to know better players. Thank you….
I am seeing more direct efforts to educate the public. Tell them who looks good and they may cash a ticket. Or teach them how to handicap and they will have more fun than the law allows. If we don’t pass along the torch of wisdom, the game will dry up and die. This is not your grand-father’s game. There are rewards, bonus points, and rebates. The game has never been more focused on making itself transparent. Just remember the Belmont and you will see this happen on every level. Just give it time and I think you will be pleased with the overall outcome.
This past year presented some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. I had the pleasure of working for the most prestigious track in the country. The job was interesting, fun, and allowed me to see behind the big curtain. The best part was working with true professionals. I have seen many solid figures in racing, but they were a cut above. When I walked into the building, it felt like I was taking the field in the big leagues. Yep, I have to admit that I know first hand what is was like to be a Yankee. If you are wondering by any chance, it is all that and a side of caviar. Thank you, Keeneland…..
When you look up to the very top of the building, you will see the bravest person at the track. The track announcer… I had an opportunity years ago to do this temporary at River Downs. They held still and tolerated my efforts until they hired a young-gun who will be one of the biggies in years to come. His name is Pete Aiello, and you won’t have to struggle to remember it. He has his own style, and is somebody who can make you feel like you are in the race. But I digress… Turfway Park was one of the first ovals I have ever visited with my Dad. I began as a parking collector at 19-years, and on March 4 of this year I had the opportunity to call the races. Mike Battaglia had to be out-of-town. And if this doesn’t mean much, then how would you like to follow Babe Ruth in the batting order? The only pressure was in my noggin as the management at Turfway made me feel at home. There are three levels of race callers. The first are the names we can fire off, and consider them to be the best. Second, brings the announcers who are on the rise or on the way down. The third level is easy. It is any one else who puts on a headset… I had the best time in the world, and my respect for callers has grown by leaps and bounds. Thanks, Turfway… You made my year.
For the players who will not see another post in this world. You are missed. I had the pleasure of getting to know many, and anytime one leaves our fold it is a very sad day. But as any horseplayer would want, the game must go on… Every time a race breaks from the gate it is for fans past and present. What a joy it is to watch such a majestic sport. Someday, long in the future when my time comes, I would love to think that I will be standing next to my Papaw and Uncle Don watching Phar Lap battle Man O’ War, and Ruffian gets a new rider with a guy they call “The Shoe.” See you guys at the races.
So, there it is… I look back with gratitude, and envision more great starts, and fantastic finishes. It is a gift. It may be the surest of winners I could ever give out. Thank you to the many who have made my dreams come true, and many thanks to those who picked me up and set me back on course. I look forward to doing my yearly trek with my Dad to the track. It is our way of quietly celebrating a game we both love. May there be many more, and may you be there as well.