Seven days can be a long time if you’re in jail, standing on your head, or listening to your better half tell you to stop watching racing and football. This past week is one of reflection, introspection, and getting ready to get my game on. So, sit back and clear your mind. “Time is not on our hands, it is slipping through our fingers.”
Has it been seven days already?
It feels like a golf ball is stuck in my throat. I was sitting in front of my computer last week when the news of the death of Juan Saez came across social media and every racing publication. I have watched the memorial services on You Tube, and how riders in the Breeders’ Cup are going to wear black patches for fallen riders. I hardly ever mention a name, but in this case I feel it is right. I was on Facebook, and was reading Miguel Mena’s timeline and he mentioned it has been one week since we heard the saddest news in racing. Mena is an up-and-coming rider, and I love to follow along with the world of racing. Just reading brought tears to the corners of my eyes. Miguel’s timeline said it best: ” We will always miss him, and with time our pain will turn to memories filled with ear-to-ear smiles.” I don’t think we’re there yet, and as my grandpa once told me as a young man. “Time cures all.” I don’t know if it will be cured, but someday we’ll be able to think back with fond memories as we travel on the road called life.
I ended my summer of fun as Belterra Park ended its inaugural racing meet. I look back to where I first started, and where I turned the mic off for the season. For the people who toughed it out through my rough beginning, the wonderful folks who gave me encouraging words, the call from my friend and incredible race caller Jason Beem from Portland Meadows, and my compadre, John Englehardt who helped me get more comfortable in my own skin. Thank you more than you’ll ever know! This was one of the best summers in years.
Worth Every Penny
I was reading the article from Rich Eng of the Las Vegas Review Journal. If you haven’t read anything from his column, be sure to take a look and decide for yourself. Here is where you can find the talented, introspective, thought provoking, and ultra-informative Rich Eng – http://www.reviewjournal.com/. Rich posed a question on Facebook “What’s you’re opinion?” The Times Union.com reported that Tom Durkin was paid $440,000 for 100 days as track announcer and race caller. There was a bevy of responses, and it ranged from nice, cute, and a little bitchy. For the low-low-cost of free, here are my thoughts.
Tom Durkin called the races. He brought to life every movement of the athletes. His dulcet tones could make you feel the splashing of the muddy track with his final stretch call. He was paid a whopping $25,000 in yearly raises, and a $10,000 stipend for Saratoga. He was able to “rent out” his voice for the Breeders’ Cup, Triple Crown events, and any Saturday or Sunday holiday events as reported by the Times Union.
The article was great. Rich Eng put it out there to gauge our response, and we read it and formulated our opinions. Good for you Tom Durkin! Isn’t it great to hear about a guy who began calling fair circuit races in Wisconsin take it to the limit? Aren’t you tired of hearing how rock stars make so much money it has to be weighed? For instance, how about Mike Nugent of the Cincinnati Bengals who averaged $59,090 per field goal in 2012, and he will earn in 12 days what it takes a high school teacher to make in 293 hours? I digress, and no disrespect to Mr. Nugent who does his job with the best. Being an announcer is something you can’t read in a book, or learn in night school. It is one the toughest job at the track, and if you doubt my words, venture into the chat rooms dedicated to “telephone tough guys” who bitch and moan about every race caller in the world. I once saw a well versed radio host take off the headset mid-way during a race he was calling on a day dedicated to special guests. His face covered in sweat, and his shirt was soaked. Tom Durkin was a story teller. If you were listening on radio, he could bring to the life the runner on hold and waiting, and could bring you right along the fence as a horse was threading the needle along the rail in bright golden silks. “All money is good, the only trouble is if you get enough of it.” His voice was racing, and his replacement is one of the best in the sport. There is no comparison between the two, as they differ in style. Tom Durkin was worth every penny, and he will be missed. I hope Larry Collmus makes double, and the comments of New York race caller Marshall Cassidy from 1971-1990 be stricken from our memories as he referred to his pay as “excessive.” I loved his calls thorough the years, but his stock value dropped in my heart like a rock in the river.
Seven days: 168 hours; or 604,800 seconds have passed and this handicapper/writer/horse player/father/son/brother/and friend has read, experienced, and felt many things during this time and these are a few that stick out in my mind. At the time of this entry, Breeders’ Cup is 10 days, 4 hours, and 15 minutes from post time. You’ll be reading about some of the major players, and what is happening in the days leading up to the big dance. Oh, and for the record. My group will be getting back together to make two block-buster pick four tickets from our $2,500 pool. We have been on hold as there are life events that have delayed our venture. But rest assured, we’ll be coming with guns a blazing! Best of luck, and be mindful of your time. It is all you’ll ever have…