The End of Summer

Right about now you’re hearing Don Henley in your head. – No worries, it will disappear once you finish reading. But if not, the “Boys of Summer” are on You Tube to use as your personal handicapping music. – All of the complaining and crying about the humidity will be on the short list as the cool crisp autumn air will begin to through the trees. As the leaves turn golden-brown, we’ll be treated to some of the best racing of the year. – Thoroughbred racing moves in a cycle. We begin the year with promise and questions, the spring brings hope and answers. The summer shows the maturity taking place and the fall season allows the runners to square off one final time before heading out to pasture for the winter. – “I can tell you my love for you will be strong, after the boys of summer are gone.”


There are things I look forward as the seasons change. – Going to Keeneland for a real handicapper is a day-pass in horse racing heaven. – This will be their 80th year of opening the doors to the masses and I’ll plan a trip or three. There is something that renews the spirit of a horse player when they walk through the doors. Maybe it’s the historic Sycamore tree in the paddock, or could it be the intoxicating aroma of Kentucky Burgoo ? – If you listen closely you’ll hear the sounds of history’s hoof beats as they round the  turn and straighten away for the stretch drive.

Keeneland is a magical place and I liken it to “Brigadoon” where a mystic village magically appears once every hundred years for one day. – Well, Keeneland actually runs about 15 days twice a year but you get the picture. – Something magical appears and puts on the best show in racing and vanishes back into the fog for five months. – If that’s not magic you better check your pulse.

Breeders’ Cup is a time when you see the best-of-the-best square off for a final round at the end of the year. The weather is perfect and the host tracks are pristine and ready. – I start weeks in advance looking over replays and read about the connections from all over the world. – As the weekend approaches I begin a system of eliminating runners. – You can’t bet them all and no matter how big your bankroll is in your wallet you’ll need to have a system. – You can bet prices or look for a square price on the unbeatable chalk you love. Once the weekend is over and the winners are crowned, I usually take a small break. I put so much time into the big weekend that I need a break win or lose. – That part keeps me sharp and ready for the next round of racing.

As winter blows in with football in full-stride, you start watching Fair Grounds, Aqueduct, and Gulfstream. – Then as you hit the first of the year, you’ll start seeing Gulfstream and California offering up some glimpses of what lays ahead. Oaklawn always offers a solid meet, and Aqueduct always produces a runner or many that will have you scratching your head. – That is Thoroughbred racing, and  a horse player can tell you what time of year it is by what meet is running. We measure time in 20 minute increments (time between races) and before you know it the process renews itself with the entrance of spring. – That’s racing. Just when you think it is coming to an end the never ending cycle renews our spirit.