Now, you are probably looking for this trio on the cartoon network. But, it is a collection of a father, son, and an uncle that loved to play the ponies. Yesterday, when I made my yearly birthday trek with my Dad to the races, I happened to see the trifecta of players holding court in the same place as they have for years.
Now, most riders tip the scales around 100 pounds. “The Jock” weighed in at 400+, and would critique every move that his losing rider made. He would get down in his best rider stance, and show how he would break from the gate, change leads, and switch the whip down the lane. The Jock was a gem to say the least. He could have written a million best-sellers about how to be a race rider. He loved the small time jocks, and would call out Hall-of-Famer’s for lack of courage and ability. Seeing him in his glory made my day, and watching him get down in the imaginary irons was worth the price of admission.
Everyone has an opinion, but Mouth has a phone book full of excuses. He got shut-out, the teller sold him the wrong ticket, the lines were too long, and he was going to play that horse but you talked him off. “The Mouth” is in every racing show ever to grace the screen. I recall one day where Mouth had a few winners. Yep, he was on-fire and was going to load up on the feature race. He slammed down the cash, and the tickets were in his sweaty little hands. They were just about to break from the gate, and he looked at The Jock and said: “All he has to do is stay aboard, and he will win by daylight.” Well, there are bad beats, and close photos, but nothing ever topped the day that his horse Mud In Your Eye was ten on top. They hit the 1/8th pole, and The Mouth looked at his cronies and said the immortal words: “They don’t beat many from here boys!” He was clipped at the wire by a 50-1 shot named Big Talker. If there was ever a hunch, it was then for this man of great excuses. To this day, if you ask him about Mud In Your Eye, he can recall it like it happened ten-seconds ago.
Smokey the Jinx
Smoke loved to puff on Marlboro’s from his waking moment until he went to sleep. When they banned smoking at the track, and you had to go outside, I thought he would toss in the towel. Smoke has this patented line for talking to other players. “Hey, who do you like this race? The #2? Well you can tear up your tickets because he couldn’t win a one-horse-race.” That is Smokey right down to his filter. He lights one right off the other, and if he comes up and tells you he likes the horse you chose…. Well, you can tear those tickets up right now as he hasn’t won since Nixon was in office. Good guy, but a very bad player. When he walks into the room, the sound of all of the air rushing out is a signal to get the hell out while you still have your shirt.
What a day it turned out to be… I had a few winners, and my old man knocked them around a bit. We talked as always, and had a spot of lunch. As the birthdays come and go, I begin to look more like my Dad, and he sports the appearance of a well-aged fan. I have to say that if I had the option of going anywhere to celebrate my special day, it would be sitting across from my best friend, talking about the game that has kept us close. Thanks, Dad… I had a great time….