It happens every year, and hopefully we get to see it. For some it is a curse that pulls back the curtain of time and reveals our every flaw. For others it is the greatest of gifts, and should never be thought of as a weight or a warning. I would like to sit with group two if given the chance, and with the day coming in a matter of hours. I am once again a humble and grateful recipient.
On July 1, 1966 at roughly 3:00 a.m., a baby boy was born. He was delivered in the usual way, but there was a sign of things to come when the doctor held him closer to the light to examine. His eyes were closed tight, and his cry could be heard down the halls. His mother was exhausted and asked why is he crying so loudly? The doctor pulled down his mask and looked at my mother. “He has a Daily Racing Form in his hand, and wants to know when the first race goes to post.” This was the start of his race, and boy what an adventure it has been !
When I was a young lad, going to the races was right of passage. There were family picnics and tagging along with dad and grandpa. But that soon evolved into hanging out with my dad one-on-one learning to read the program. We would dumpster dive for programs that were discarded in the trash, and save that $1 which could be used to make a wager. Yeah, it’s fair to say that I was hooked from day #1.
Being lucky is sometimes just more than hard work and showing up on time. – How many people do you really know that have been blessed with doing what they wanted for a job? – Oh, now c’mon… It isn’t that many, and if you really think about it, we learn to like or tolerate what we do for a job. Not me… I have the best run in the world getting to do what I truly love. Some may doubt, and others may believe half of the story. But all-in-all, I am one of the luckiest guys in the world.
I started off reading the newspaper in the school library. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the sports section to see who was running where. – I was allowed a $20 per week allowance with a elderly bookmaker who would take my calls to make $2 to win and place bets on the race of the day at River Downs, Latonia, Keeneland and Churchill. Most kids saved their grass cutting money to buy a cassette tape or a new bike after a few summers. Not me… I couldn’t wait for dad to summon me from down stairs to ask me if I wanted to go to the races. Derby Day was like a religious experience. My dad and I would get up early, and take all of the neighbors and family members bets to the local book maker who held shop in a VFW. They would have a radio perched above the bar, and all would be quiet when the races would be broadcast on WLAP. This eventually led to being televised, and I was sure that life couldn’t get any sweeter.
But all of this aside, I want to give thanks for every opportunity that has been placed in my path. Sometimes they started very modestly, and the best of journeys begin with the smallest of gestures.
* Thank you Paul Redfield for getting me that job in the parking lot when I was kid. He told me he would speak to a guy he knows, and I would get hired. “Work hard, Eddie. You don’t know where this will take you.” – Thanks, Fox. – You were more right than you knew.
* Thanks for the opportunity to sweat in the summer sun at River Downs, and freeze in the frigid cold at Turfway Park. – They both taught me to enjoy the moment, but have a plan. – I still have my winter coat hanging in the closet.
* Thanks to the Turfway Park president for pulling me out of the admissions department, and allowing me to work with the biggest players. He knew where my love was, and made it come true in more ways than one. – Thanks, Bob.
* Getting to come back to River Downs for a second time was an unbelievable joy. The things I learned, and the things not to do will stick with me for my life. – Thanks, John Engelhardt.
* I always wanted to write and talk about racing. I have held various positions in TV handicapping and three radio shows at two tracks. – But one of the best times I have had in my racing life is when I joined Winning Ponies in 2008. I was the host of the “Winning Ponies Internet Show,” and was blogging about racing and handicapping with two of the best guys I have met. – Thank you Izzy and James! – Every time I log on to the site, I am one of the happiest guys around.
* When I turned in my resume to Keeneland. It was like betting a 100-1 shot. For some unknown reason, a man who loved racing more than anything was allowed to sit at the big table for a good spell. It didn’t last the longest in my work history, but there were so many good people who made me feel like I was called up by the Yankees. Quoting the great Lou Gehrig, “I was the luckiest guy in the world.”
* Thank you to Belterra Park. This is their inaugural meet held at a state-of-the-art facility. It may have been the bottom of the barrel time, or just the advice of a good friend who put my name in their ear. I am calling the races at Belterra Park, and no matter if it is good, bad, or improving. It is the hardest/most fun job in the world, and you should appreciate the efforts put forth by the talented folks that bring the race to life. – I don’t know where we go from here, but I will be a “Jeopardy” answer someday. ” Who was the first race caller at Belterra Park in 2014? – Alex, that would be the excitable Ed Meyer. Thank you once again, John Engelhardt.
Overall, turning 48 is as sweet as warm summer day. With the obstacles that fell in my path of life, and the good and bad days along the way. I am grateful and happy. I am a single father, and have been blessed with the sweetest son in the world. My parents are still in good health, and my brother is still my best friend. But overall, I have been a lucky man. I once heard a great line from a movie. “Do you want a shot at the title, or a seat by the band?” – For me, the answer has been simple. Just follow your heart, and you’ll never go wrong. On this day, August Edward Meyer III turns 48-years of young age. I still feel 18, and most of the time I act like it. When I pull up to the track, I still get the same feeling as when I would ride shot-gun with my dad as we rode out to catch the last three or four races on a school night. Many thanks to those who have helped me along the way, and for the blessings that have come to be the best part of my life. – Thank you!