The Man’s Day

by Ed Meyer

posted on April 9, 2015 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>

Fred and Barney driving in Fred Flintstone's car Not to sound like fool or a sexist jerk, but an old friend of mine and I coined this back in college. It was not for the faint of heart, and one had to build a bankroll to do it right. At the end of the day, if you broke even you were probably doing pretty well all things considered. These days can bring a smile, or make you long for simpler times. Either way, they were a right of spring and side note of our friendship.

We had M-W-F classes with a Monday night tossed in for good measure. This allowed for Tuesday and Thursday off, and one could do homework, study, or hit Keeneland four more times each season. We loved to hear the phone ring about 10pm the night before, and one of us would be the president of the university. We would rant and rave about how much we were working and how a well deserved day off would be the tonic. You know, take a nice drive to pretty place and enjoy nature. – Lexington, Kentucky was pretty all of the year, but there was something spectacular in April. The trees in bloom, the grass turning a bluish-green, and the beer icy-cold from sitting in the cooler all night. “Yes sir, I agree. A daytrip is in order, sir. Thank you.”

Closing day of the April meet was chock full of turf racing, and you could always count on some prices as it was “get-away-day” for the smaller outfits who stuck around. But just as the curtain closed for one, the Racing Gods opened another. The one mile red clay oval better known as The Red Mile opened that night for 12 harness races. Now, just add up the 9 live Thoroughbred and the 12 live harness and you have what is known in certain circles as “Man’s Day.” – The drinking would begin about 9 am, and we would meet at his house. He always drove, as we could fit the cooler into the back seat of his car. No need for breakfast as Keeneland served the best corned beef sandwiches on the planet. The 75 mile drive was about a 12-pack jaunt, and we would pull over and ice down another 12-pack to cool in the Lexington breeze for the next leg of our journey. One could expect a beer per race and a mountain of a sandwich that served as fuel.

Tim was the kind of guy who would have taken a bullet versus missing our big day. One time he was in a bit of a pickle. He had a mid-term rescheduled for a Friday afternoon. There couldn’t have been worse news and there was no joy in Mudville. Normally I reserve the “big fibs” for monumental events, and this was one for him. He was torn and didn’t know what to do. But when the University president called to extend his condolences for his dearly departed Uncle, the picture became crystal clear. The “big fib” was churning, and when he informed his prof about this incredible loss. The professor allowed him to come in two hours early and take the test. Man’s Day comes once a year, and you have to have your priorities in order.

We would bet and guzzle adult beverages, and dream about the big score. Over the course of one day I was short stacked and had to borrow $50 half-way through the card. I had a sweet winner that paid $28, and with $20 to win, my $280 was enough to pay him back and stay in action. My winning continued, and by the end of the card he borrowed $100 from me. Well, after he hit the trifecta for $900, he gave me back $150 and took us to the big buffet. That may have been one of the best trips we ever made. There was something magical for two race fans to dodge classes and make the run. U.K. students do it everyday, but when you live in Northern Kentucky, that 75 mile drive took a little planning.

The trips continued, but The Red Mile changed racing dates. We continued going to Keeneland on the closing day, and turned right back home and drove 45 minutes North to Lebanon Raceway. It was fun, but by the end of the day we were tuckered. That lasted two years, and we started missing the yearly event.  There were marriages, kids, and life started getting in the way. Funny thing how our priorities change. If I live to be 100, I’ll remember the surprise trip we once made. It was mid-week and there was no thought of driving the one hour trek. I was making my way out to my car to call it a day. There he was standing with two Daily Racing Forms smiling. ” You ready?” – ” I can’t make it brother, I’m tapped and that would be torture for a horse player.” – “Did I tell you about my big hit last yesterday?  I took down the pick-three for a little over two thousand! I’ll give you two hundred, no payback, and the beer is in the car.” Normally common sense would have taken over, but the one hour trek was made in 40 minutes! It was one of our last trips, and one that will last in my mind forever. As I sit here watching the Keeneland signal on TVG, I think back to the trips. They were not for the faint of heart, and there is something about this time of year that makes me smile when I hear the bugler.