Do you find yourself stepping over the large crack in the sidewalk ? How about the lucky coin in your pocket ? Is there a lucky shirt hanging in your closet ? – Gamblers have always been a bit cautious and that extends to the backside as well. For a sport that is based in hard work, preparation, and diligent care. It surely couldn’t hurt to do a little overtime work to ensure your luck is on the mend.
If you’re on the backside you’ll see a swirl of humanity working quickly in the early hours of the morning. Cold, heat, rain or snow won’t keep these dedicated people from getting to the barn and taking care of the horses in their charge. There is no such thing as a vacation and a day off is just as rare. That goes along with the territory and they bought that deal when they first showed up. But here are a few that have caught my eye over the years and I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg.
* Don’t pack an old broom when your moving to a new track. – I guess we would have wanted to save a few bucks and toss the broom in the back of the truck. No, just leave the broom. We’ll get a brand new one when we ship and set up the barn area at the next stop. – Trainers have been a little hesitant to bring any of the old ways to the new location. Even if they had a good run, you might be bringing along the bad mojo and didn’t even know it. “Take the horses and leave the broom” in a “Godfather” style of speaking.
* Try and find barn #13 at Saratoga. The stalls go from 12 – 12A – 14. – You won’t find barn 13, and that’s just fine with many conditioners. There used to be a stall 13 at Saratoga. That stall was once occupied by the legendary racehorse Secretariat, prior to his running in the 1973 Whitney Handicap. Following his record-shattering performance in winning the Triple Crown. He lost to a four year old gelding named Onion in horse racing’s most shocking upset ever.
* The barn cat and the goat in the stall are two of the most important players in the barn. The cat keeps rats and mice away from the sweet feed and the goat is a calming partner welcome by most horses. They have a special relationship and one doesn’t go without the other. I once knew a trainer who shipped to another track where he left his barn cat Lucky. – Lucky had no tail and one eye, but he was magic. The trainer drove 500 miles back to his old barn where Lucky was sitting in his perch. Nothing like taking a little “luck” with you as you set up shop.
Horse players have always been superstitious. I’ve seen about everything when it comes to the betting side of racing and nothing ever surprises me.
* I knew a player who wore the same shirt everyday. He claimed he washed it and kept it in his closet all alone. He didn’t want the luck to rub off. If you got too close or were down wind of the gent, you know for a fact he didn’t wash that hideous Hawaiian shirt. If he didn’t want the luck to rub off in the closet, I’m pretty sure he felt detergent would be the end of the magic.
* Players are creatures of habit. They enjoy sitting in the same seats or as close as possible. – Now, when I watched a gent walk in all smiles and greet friends along the way. He looked as if he was ready to wager and win. He bought his Daily Racing Form and went to sit in his favorite seat. – When he arrived at row B seat #1, there was a man and his wife eating lunch making quite a mess. – The bettor tossed his paper in the garbage and turned around and walked out.
* Nasty cigars can be noticed from a mile away, and if you’re not a smoker you could swear they are right next to you. – I know many who smoke the cheap stogies and do so only at the track for luck. Others just chew them into a mushy mess where they are tossed and another popped in their mouth when it becomes too gross.
* Back in the good old days you had to get to the track early to find your perfect parking spot. – This is a must for certain players and if they are a valet customer. They could be driving a hunk-of-junk but tip the best of the day. They love the spot and the treatment and after-all good beginnings can lead to great endings.
I’ve seen lucky trolls at the bingo hall, lucky seats for video poker fans, and the track is filled with every type of item under the sun. – I even have one. In my booth at the track, I have an authentic voodoo doll from a spooky shop in New Orleans. It is called the “God of Success” and he keeps a watchful eye on the track and the races. – I have been offered up to $25 for my lucky doll, but he’ll hold court as long as I’m there.