Every town in the country has fans of one sport or another. They would do just about anything to get there and see the action. This also applies to horse-players, and they love to take part in the season as well. Here are a few that make me smile as this kiddie holiday still holds some fond memories.
If you are watching Churchill on Halloween, you will see the sun start setting earlier, and the autumn sky falls upon the Louisville area. It is about this time when you hear the announcer spin a tale about a headless rider, who comes out just once a year. It is that time that you will hear ominous music, and a headless rider in a long cape stride down the stretch aboard a ghost-white grey horse.
There is a gent that comes to the track daily. He comes in with his t-shirt, and jeans, and not one given to dressing for the races. Dave is a burly gent who is about 6’3. A big guy who shakes your hand with purpose. But he has been without his right arm for most of life. I have heard him tell curious kids that it was s shark attack, he has a bionic arm being made, and the zombie attack that caught him off-guard. Truth be told, after the many years of knowing this hardcore handicapper, I could not tell you what happened to my friend. Each year he wears a sport coat. It is every Halloween whether there is live racing or simulcast action. Dave walks in with a business-like stride, and makes his way to the program booth. Everything is order, except that down the sleeve of his right coat arm is a hand peeking out. He wears his jacket and mannequin arm that looks as life-like as all get out! He never breaks a smile, and acts if nothing is new… His friends roll every year, and the newbies who get used to seeing him get their first prank of the season.
Jerry called himself a “vampire.” He would tell everyone how he donates blood, platelets, and sperm every month. Well I didn’t have the heart to tell him that is not the typical definition, but he is happy telling everyone and says he makes extra money to come to the track. Well that could possibly be true. But anyone who knows him remembers he is a retired railroad worker. His house was paid, and his family raised. His wife Stella has been gone for nine years, and the track was his family. He took an illness last year, and passed away just this summer. It was at his service that we learned why he called himself a vampire. He gave blood six times a year, and was active in donating his life to others. The sperm donation… Well, we will give him a pass as men his age are not called into stud service. This guy who bragged about being a creature of the night, was actually a person we should aspire to be. He was a prank, rolled in a joke, and followed by a lesson we could all learn from.
As the sun sets earlier and the ghosts and goblins make their visit right before Breeders’ Cup take the time to enjoy the beauty of the season. It could be the beautiful fall foliage, or the changing of race meets. The horses love this time of year, and if you are lucky enough to see some live racing, you will see them at a brilliance that is hard to compare. As racing fans, we measure time in 20-minute increments. That would be the post time of the next live race if you are watching the races. Enjoy the season, and get ready for the harvest of the year as the Breeders’ Cup is once again upon.