Horseplayers – One for the Good Guys

by Ed Meyer

posted on April 3, 2014 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>

If you have been keeping tabs on the series, you got a rare peek at the players. This episode was one of discovery. Just when you thought you had the stars sized up, this week was all about the good guys. – Yep, you heard it right. Every once in awhile the good guys take the prize.

It was opening night at the Fair Grounds, and the night before the mega-contest. You see the guys letting off a little steam watching camel races, and seeking advice from higher sources. Team Rotondo was embracing the voodoo energy of New Orleans, and the only guy who looked to enjoy the evening was Lee Davis. Christian Hellmers was not playing one against the other for the first time, and even gave some sage-like to a fellow player on the brink of a score. Michael Beychok was back home, and he wanted to win where he cut his teeth as a youngster. Having lunch with James Carville was a “remember when moment,” and his advice to the youngster Matt Bernier was far from political. “It’s a brand new meet, and you have to get in there and kick their ass.” Well, maybe it did have some political base as the young Bernier soaked it in. John Conte is still in there ,and if ever there was an old-school guy who deserves to take it down. You know Conte is right at the top. This week Kevin Cox gets unveiled a bit when it shows him winning a contest, and Christian is talking about him playing multiple tickets and having his wife play as a team. All the while you would thought the “Cowboy”was a lone wolf player who believes in getting it done himself. – So there is the set up.

They are playing in the Twin Spires mega-contest (which is a great value) and Kevin and Christian have already qualified. The only question you could ask; who is next? When Cox hits a (40-1) shot in the first race, he should be dictating the pace all the way to the winner’s circle.  This had me thinking he would win it easily. Micheal Beychok had a tough run of third-itis, and he wanted to do well in his own backyard. You can feel his slump as we’ve all have had times like these. Cream rises to the top, just give it time.  Matt Bernier is still doing well for a newbie to the circuit, but he needs to stop talking about how mom, dad, and grandma are his stake horses. Mark my word, you’ll see him in the end doing battle for a big shot at the money. Team Rotondo is doing the father-son thing, and Lee Davis is along for the ride as usual. But this episode has foreshadowing. Lee Davis shows his New Orleans voodoo may have power. Team Rotondo keeps chanting their magic voodoo mistress name for any edge to be had. When you hear Lee Davis’ story, about how he was a big money man on Wall Street, lost his job, and now works in construction. You’ll have a soft spot in your heart for the big fella. Conte is always in the hunt and you never see him sweat.

The turning point is when Lee Davis is in 5th with one race to go. Christian is out of the hunt, and he talks to Lee about looking at the betting patterns of the players above him and the few right behind him. This was the best advice, and only a seasoned veteran would have examined their playing strategies. Christian (Oddball) Hellmers moved up in stock when he took his time with Davis. This rarely happens, and you only see this when players are teaming together. But this was not the case.

The last race goes to post and Davis is in 5th. You can feel the sweat running down his back as the top five qualify, and the race is as tough as a coffin nail. I gained confidence when the Rotondo boys get behind him playing a (2-1) shot named P’Ferd to win and place. The even money chalk opens up down the lane, and Davis’ runner gets a bad trip and runs a hard-luck second. The long wait, and watching him wipe the sweat from his brow is enough to put you in the seat next to him. When the leader board appears and you see his name highlighted in 4th place. I think they should rename it “Team Davis.”  As Lee wiped the tears from his big blue eyes, you know it’s more than just about the money.

You think you’ve seen it all when all of the players are telling their tales, and they head down with Beychok as he shows the guys his town. It’s a good moment when the viewers feel connected to the players. You see them outside of their arena, and watch as they kickback and relax. You can see yourself grabbing a brew, and listening to New Orleans jazz. One of the best moments for this viewer is about Kevin Cox. He pays a visit to an Old Friends Racehorse Retirement facility to see his favorite horse Zippy Chippy. He was 0 for 100 in his races. – Quote of the show belongs to the big “Cowboy”… “I try to do things charity related to the sport. So many lower level horses fall through the cracks. I made a vow after my parents passed away to do more for the charitable aspect of the game. No matter how much money you have, you can’t spend it all, but its always nice to give back.” He showed that side you never would have bet on. He wants to do good in Vegas so he can do more for the retired horses. The good guys did win on this episode.