If you sample about 20 gamblers at the track, you will get more stories than your ears can hold. They will begin with the bad ones that still hurt, and of course the big winning days that keep them coming. Here are a few stories that stick out as some of the toughest.
1. – It was cold snowy afternoon at Latonia Race Course. I was in attendance with my dad, and he wasn’t having the best luck. When the last race was loading, he looked over at me and uttered the immortal words I can still hear, “Eddie, the only thing that hasn’t happened today is my jockey falling off at the gate.” Well, when Gina Rose aboard Kentucky Bulldog went to her knees and lost the rider, I believe I saw a little of everything that day.
2. – I had my first job at the track, and I was a lad in the parking lot. We used to bet more than we made, but that was my second job to feed the ponies. My friend Steve and I had a hot tip on a speedster named Mud in Your Eye. We waited weeks for him to run, and the day he went to post we unloaded our pockets. Danny Cox was in the irons, and he quickly opened up by 7 lengths… We jumped around and started high-fiving. When they hit the turn he was commanding by a long five… As they turned for home he still on top by 4 lengths, and nobody was coming. As they passed us at the 16th pole, he was dropping an anchor and still leading by two. When they neared the wire, he had dropped back to fourth. To this day when I call, it still comes up in our “remember when” conversations. I have never seen a horse quit so badly….
3. – My dad and I went to Beulah Park. We had three horses boxed in an exacta, and all three numbers were blinking. My dad looked over at me and said, “don’t worry, they will just switch the numbers and we’ll still have it.” After 15 minutes of watching the inquiry sign, they all went dark and took down all three numbers…
4. I was standing along the rail at River Downs. Just 18-years-old, I drove over to hang out and bet some ponies. There was a speed horse that was 5-1, and had leading rider David Gehri in the saddle. When they were in mid-stretch, he was on top by six lengths. The horse jumped the starting gate tracks, and bolted to the left to break through the inside rail… Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
5. – I was in Florida on a family trip. Once again, I was in the seats with dad. We had ventured out to the dog track to bet the yappers and some simulcast wagering. I made a nice pick four wager at Aqueduct, and we sat and watched. I began with a $15 winner, and I was off! The second leg came in and he paid $13,80… Leg three went to post, and the longest shot on the board won. I caught him as he paid a whopping $40 to win. The last leg will pays lit up, and I had four of the seven runners. They were going to pay $23,000, $8,000, $32,500, and the best was over $64,000… My dad started talking to these two old players at the next table, and they started gabbing about the will-pays I had going. Two of which were chalk, as we looked good going to post. As they broke, one of the horses I didn’t have was left at the gate a mile back. When they travelled down the backside I was 1-2-3…. When they turned for home, I had two horses battling it out and one lone runner I didn’t have was rolling at 15-1… As they neared the wire, I saw my dad get up from his seat and start walking toward the exit. It was a long ride back to the hotel. Don’t be afraid to use the all button.
6. – I had always wanted to go to Arlington Park. It was Arlington Million weekend, and I got there the day prior. Well, I got off to a good start and won over $200. I dined at the Trackside pavilion to catch simulcast wagering, and have a steak dinner. After my meal and some Mountaineer racing, I was winning over $500… The best day was next, and I couldn’t wait! I started winning slowly, and it swirled into my best day in years. I loved a runner by the name of Storming Home. He was ridden by my favorite rider Gary Stevens, and I couldn’t get enough money through the windows. When they turned for home, he opened up by enough to be the winner and I started counting my money. As they got to the wire, I saw him take an awkward step to the left, and Gary Stevens flew off. I was pretty sure this was after the wire, and I waited for my rider to get off the turf. He stayed down, and the inquiry sign flashed… I started watching the jumbotron with 10,000 others, and it was close, but it still looked like he reached the wire with the rider in the irons. After watching 100 times, I kept thinking they would keep his number up. Well, the wagering gods must have been fishing on this day as they took down my runner. To this day it remains my toughest beat. I remember coming back the next race and making a huge bet on a promising runner on the turf. When Kitten’s Joy won over Greek Sun, I broke even for the day but had a heart full of pain….
There are two maxims in racing. All horse players have stories, and no matter how good of a handicapper you are. All horse players will die broke…. Funny thing, I can remember all of my big scores, and even though the losing days outnumber the winning days. The optimistic gambler in all of us keeps us coming back. As we head into the Arlington Million this weekend, be sure to check back for some free selections. Winning Ponies has been rolling, and this will be an incredible weekend to do some wagering.