Sweet Treats and Bad Beats

We’ve all went through the grinder at some point or an other. You know, the days you’ll have three outta’ four in the pick-four, or how you stumbled into a monster pick-five by hitting the “all” button. As 2015 winds down I find myself trying to kick a cold that seems to linger like a visiting relative that can’t find the door. The sleep is good right now, but the dreams are like instant replays of the year. So as I replay some of the good and bad each night, I find myself in that introspective mood where you get to enjoy everything one more time.

Keeneland is one of the neatest places you could ever visit. If you find it hard to enjoy the bucolic settings, maybe you should check your pulse. This year was the Breeders’ Cup and looking back it was one of the best ever. Nobody thought little Keeneland could match up to the needs of the big stage, even though they’ve been holding the best racing for over a half a century. In comes my man who wants to go bad, but won’t pay the big ticket. He bitched about everything from where he would park, to how long he would wait in line. He was going to spoil the best weekend of racing he looked forward to with gusto. That was until something really great had some odd timing. Tim and his wife Meredith were having their first child. Even though the Breeders’ Cup was close to the due date, she purchased two incredible tickets complete with food and beverage, and a valet parking pass as she wasn’t in the mood to walk a mile or more. My boy got the call a night in advance of the big weekend, as Tim said his wife had been in labor all night. “She is really having a tough time, but all is good. We’re going the natural route and it’s been a long trip. Would you like to have our tickets for Keeneland?” The Grinch had stopped bitching and a smile did arrive, and who hated the weekend had now come alive. “I accept your two tickets and invite my best gal; she’ll love the big weekend as we’ll pack our stuff now.” They even received his room accommodations and two reservations for fine dining. “You couldn’t have a better gift if you lived three times as long, and no matter the outcome, how could it go wrong?”

As Tim and his wife had their bundle of joy, my man and his gal were living large in Lexington. They started off with a seat at a table with some horse breeders and met Bob Baffert. All systems were go, and he started off with a $500 score first time at bat. As day one came to end, he had cleared the card except one race. As they went out for dinner, he was up $4,000 for the day. His gal was a glow and dressed to the nines, and both toasted their hosts who kept them in mind. They had a baby girl, and her name is Chloe. All is well for their family way far back home, as they started a family and how could it be wrong? The next day arrived with new guests at the table. He met some more of the horse-folk from the Bluegrass. The energy was fine, and the view was on par, and hopefully the day would take them real far. My good pal who wouldn’t have went to the races and pay the big price, was all-in for Pharoah and pick-four that paid nice. They loved the big weekend and life was real sweet. For his wallet was packed with a hump on his seat. They’ve had a big time, and the weekend was great, the countdown for Breeders’ Cup would just have to wait. Sometimes we get that sweet surprise, and may times it comes at the last minute. They’re already making plans for the Derby, Saratoga, and Breeders’ Cup next. He told me that they were going to repay the happy new parents with a trip to the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita in 2016.

Pete is the kinda’ guy who could make Secretariat lose in the Belmont. He was doing pretty well on Derby day and he finally looked like a cinch to walk out with some cash. He talked about killing the guaranteed  pick-four and this was going to be his day. He said he had two singles, and one was in the Derby but he wouldn’t tell who it was. He said, “you’re just going to have to wait.” It was Race #8 / CD Distaff Mile where he singled Tepin who shipped in from GP and paid a sweet $20.20 to win. Race #9 / CD Stakes, he used two horses and ran first and third. Private Zone paid $7.40 to win. Race #10 / Woodford Reserve Turf Classic. He pushed the “all” button and knew he would survive going into the Derby if he made it this far. His runner Finnegan’s Wake won and paid $9.40. Well the time had come and he over an hour to talk about his secret single. His cryptic message was that the winner would come from the west coast.” They have been dueling and fighting, and I’m going to use a runner who has been 2nd best a few times. But when he finally uncorked his true self, it was lights out. Gentlemen, I have 32 tickets on the pick-four. I went 1 X 2 X 9 X 1 for $18 per copy. The total wager came out to be $576 which was all the money he had in his pocket. After pulling his teeth, he finally cut loose with his secret runner who was going to re-write history. “Gents, have you heard of a little race called the Sunland Derby? He rolled like a good thing, and is training well coming into the race. He has the services of Gary Stevens, and he knows a thing or two about this race. I give you the best horse in the race: Firing Line.

Well, there are days when you get the bear, and some days the bear gets you. As they turned for home he looked in great shape and was going to have to pass the chalk with American Pharoah. “That’s me, that’s me. He’s going to inhale him!”  As the 1/4 pole came about he had a good chance, at the 3/16th’s pole, he had poked a head in front, at the 1/8th pole he dug in gamely and relinquished the lead to the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years. The pick-four paid $1,054.90 with the favorite. He was right about one thing. History was written on this day, but not to his liking. He bitched and moaned and finally kicked over a garbage can on the way out the door. The last words I heard about Pete was he gave up playing the races after 40 years. I heard it was just too much for his ailing health and it was time to put away the betting. I did hear he lost 50 pounds and is into jogging. I’ll bet he’ll be looking for the window to place a wager on if he’ll finish his first half marathon.

If you hang around the track long enough, you’ll hear about everything. I love the stories, and the people are always the best part. There are good stories, and ones that make you feel the pain just hearing the tale. I’m feeling kinda tired now, and the bed is starting to sound pretty good. I wonder where my fever dreams are going to take me tonight. I sure hope I’ll get to see my grandpa again, or maybe when my horse ran second he gets about five more feet this time as he’ll blow right on by. Either way, I hope sweet dreams are on the way.

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