The End of an Era

by Ed Meyer

posted on April 25, 2020 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>

On a cold rainy morning, a magical place in my life was cleared away. Swept into the pages of history for many fans, but for me, it was much more. This was the place where my love of horse racing began. For me, it was more than just an old building, it was a monument that held a million cherished memories.

My love affair began long ago. I would travel out as a youngster with my parents. My brother Don and I would stay in the car with my Mom as she would bring a bucket of chicken. We would do homework, play ball with the other racetrack youth, and grow up 20 minutes at a time in between races.

When the day came when I could go inside with Dad it was magical from the first trip. – I watched and rooted for his horses. If he was doing well on the night I would get to make a $2 place bet on my favorite horse. – That was the beginning of my affair.

Over the years, I would get to make the once or twice a week trek with Dad and Papaw. We would drive out for the last three of four races. They stopped charging admission and we scooted in for the final four. – I started my wagering getting to make a couple place wagers. I started to follow the entries in the paper. It had an enormous section called “The Racing Edition” covering Latonia (Turfway Park) with complete charts. – I guess it’s fair to say these were my first lessons in handicapping along with my Dad showing me more with every trip.

As my love grew, so did my knowledge. – Nothing better than going to the races. Most teenagers wanted to hang with friends and swig warm beer in someone’s basement. Me, I wanted to see the ponies. – I was given $20 per week to go out on Saturday to play the races. All I had to do was have good grades and not get into trouble. Included in my bankroll was my lunch money saved as I jogged home to eat lunch. – In the summers I cut grass, raked leaves, and shoveled snow. A horseplayer’s muse called and a small bankroll was needed.

My first job at the races was in 1986 when Jerry Carroll purchased the old Latonia Race Course and renamed it, Turfway Park. –  I wasn’t paid a king’s ransom but it had me going to the races five nights a week. – The friends and memories made are worth the gold in Fort Knox as a parking lot attendant.

Over the years I moved up a peg or two. Eventually, it became my full-time job. – I was the director of parking, admissions, and eventually Race Book Manager / Player Development Director. – I had the opportunity to do weekend radio shows in the Cincinnati market and on-air handicapping. These times were pure gold and eventually lead to other positions in racing.

I had horses that ran over the oval, made friends who have stood the test of time, and not a day goes by that I would wish for another ride in the backseat with my Dad and Papaw heading out for the last four races. – This huge building was my foundation. I grew up there as many have and this simple building played a role in my life. – As the wrecking crew begins the future plans with CDI are ready to start. A new day. As in 1959 when Latonia opened the doors. Churchill will have a new state-of-the-art facility ready for racing in 2021. – There will be racing next year, but the building will not be ready. A smaller place to watch and wager along with an off-track site will have live racing in Northern Kentucky. – Until then, I’ll be waiting to see you at the races.