The Sound of Silence

by Ed Meyer

posted on March 16, 2020 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>

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I was dressed and ready. My DRF in hand and lucky ball cap on my head. We headed to the track early and stood in line just to get in the doors. – By leaving early you had a good shot at finding a standing place or enjoy a seat purchased in advance. Either way, I was ready to do battle with the day’s event. – Smoke wafted through the air, and the hum of humanity talking horses was the background music as you waited to wager. This was a big day at the races. – Until yesterday.

As the world is hearing more and more about Covid 19 known as the Corona Virus, we are finding ourselves having few options to attend large sporting events. – Governors are banning any event over a hundred people to keep the possible spread of the virus under control. – For the first time ever the marquee day at Turfway Park was going to be run without the cheers of the fans. Only limited staff, stewards, judges, and TV crews were allowed in. – There was no wagering on-track for the public and only a few windows for the owners and connections of the horses running.

I walked down and took a look at the paddock. It had the look of a Thursday afternoon, and you could count the faces in the saddling ring. – The track apron which would have been jammed packed was eerily silent with no one to cheer the competitors. – It had the feel of a Twilight Zone episode where you were one of the last people on Earth. – This wasn’t a cheap claiming race, it was a $100,000 stake race in the paddock.

The only wagering was limited to ADW’s and off-track parlors where small gatherings of people we’re still allowed. – But, if you thought the handle would suffer, think again. – The on-track handle accounts for about 3% of the total handle and the rest comes from people wagering from home. – As you witnessed the swelled win pools you had an idea that people were chomping at the bit to bet. After all, it was the only game in town as casinos, sporting events and other forms of betting were closed. It had the feel of the early ’90s again as racing was the only place to get your bet on.

No concessions, no long lines. – No clerks punching tickets and security was stationed at every door informing patrons. – It was like a ghost town. But, there were going to be twelve incredible races on tap. – As stated before, the bulk of wagering comes from players betting from home or anywhere that had mutuel windows open. Inside you’ll see hundreds of empty grandstand seats and VIP sections gathering dust. – Players wanted to come out as this will be the last live racing meet of Turfway Park since 1959. Churchill Downs is going to tear the old building down and bring us a state-of-the-art facility complete with popular historical gaming machines. It will be a sparkling new casino complete with top-shelf dining and wagering areas. The new entertainment destination will put Northern Kentucky back on the map for racing and gaming. – The future looks bright ahead.

As I walked to my car thinking about the old days of waiting in an hour’s worth of exiting traffic. There were 12 cars in the parking area. – The races were run, and the winners were crowned. Handle exceeded all expectations, but something was missing. – There’s nothing like hearing fans cheer for the horses when they turn for home. I’ve always said the people make the sport and on this day it was more evident than ever. – I’ll miss the old track but look forward to the future facility. I took some pics to remember the track. When I saw the empty parking lots and barren apron. There was a lump in my throat remembering the good old days.


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