Derby, Interrupted

The weather forecast was perfect for the weekend. This would have been the starting point for my handicapping methods. First weather, and onward from there. – The Kentucky Derby, first held in 1875 at Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, it is the longest-running sports event in the United States. Dubbed the “Run for the Roses,” the Derby features three-year-old Thoroughbreds racing over a 1 1/4 distance. – Over 150,000 fans pack into the monstrous facility and watch as a stampede of runners tries to etch their names in the history books.

The Derby was started by Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr., grandson of explorer of William Clark of Lewis and Clark expedition fame. Clark, who was inspired by horse races he’d seen in Europe, raised the money to build Churchill Downs. – In 1872, Clark traveled to Europe, where he visited leading horse-racing sites in England and France. He was inspired by England’s Epsom Downs racecourse, home since 1780 of the Derby Stakes, a 1 1/2 race for three-year-old horses organized by the 12th Earl of Derby and his friends. Clark returned home to Kentucky, founded the Louisville Jockey Club, and raised money to construct a racetrack on land donated by his uncles, Henry and John Churchill. Famed for throwing extravagant parties, Clark envisioned his racetrack as a place where the city’s stylish residents would gather.

Thirteen of the fifteen jockeys in the inaugural Derby were black, and black riders played a dominant role in the race’s early years. Between 1875 and 1902, eleven black jockeys rode 15 of the winning horses.

However, by the early 20th century, prejudice and jealousy of these jockeys’ success resulted in African-American riders largely disappearing from horse racing. Jimmy Winkfield, the last black jockey to win the Derby, did so in 1901 and 1902. – Another change to the Derby that occurred in its early years was the shortening of the race. In 1896, following complaints by some members of the racing community that the distance was too long, the event was reduced from 1 1/2 miles to 1 1/4 miles, the length it remains today.

In 1902, a new management team took over Churchill Downs that included Martin “Matt” Winn, a Louisville native and larger-than-life promoter who was instrumental in transforming the Derby from a local event into America’s most iconic horse race. -In 1908, Winn, who eventually started using the honorary title “Colonel,” played a key role in introducing a new system of placing bets at Churchill Downs, replacing human bookmakers with French pari-mutuel machines, a move that proved popular with race fans. -Winn also started the publicity-generating practice of inviting celebrities to the Derby and advocated broadcasting the race on the radio, something other racing executives thought it would hurt attendance numbers.

In 1925, the Derby aired on network radio for the first time; and afterward, attendance continued to grow. 1949 marked the first year the Derby was locally televised. Three years later, in 1952, the Kentucky Derby made its debut on national TV.

As hoards of race-goers, people watchers, gamblers, and celebrities gathered on the hallowed grounds. – The melting pot of humanity all came together on this glorious day. The first Saturday in May was a time when men from all walks would stand shoulder-to-shoulder and celebrate the Thoroughbred.

Many sporting events were canceled during the Great Depression or during the World Wars, as the official race website reads. The race often referred to as ‘The Run for the Roses’ and has continuously produced the most exciting two minutes in sports’ uninterrupted. – Even a postponement would be an oddity. – This came to fruition when it was postponed in January 1945 during WWII, and a complete ban on racing was instituted on January 3rd, 1945. – Nazi Germany surrendered on May 8th, and the organizers scrambled to put on the show. 65,000 fans filled the stands on June 9th for the 71st “Run for the Roses.”

In 2020, the Kentucky Derby will be postponed until the first Saturday in September. – We have 128 days from the time of this writing, and I’m counting the days. This weekend won’t be the same without the Oaks and Derby, but the times are uncertain.  Live Thoroughbred racing returns on May 11, 2020, to Churchill Downs. – The only change will be no spectators on track. We will still be able to watch and wager on the races with no roaring crowds. – If that’s the worst thing to happen. Bring it on! – I want to watch the ponies. We’ll have great coverage on TVG, FS1, and NBCSN or your favorite ADW or computer device. It’s the only sport to wager on. – It was postponed, but the show will go on.

 

 

First Saturday in September

I know, it sounds crazy. But, in the times of Corona-19, it may be the new norm for a while. – This Saturday would have been Kentucky Derby 146. – We just need to sit back, chill out, and wait for the ponies. They’ll be heading to post in about four months.

Churchill Downs has been conducting the race since 1875, and they went to post during The Great Depression and two World Wars. “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” is the longest continuously held sporting event in America. The first Saturday in May is a special time for horseplayers. This rite of spring is special in many ways. “My Old Kentucky Home,” Mint Juleps, the beautiful roses. – There are not many places more beautiful than Churchill Downs on this day.

Has it ever been postponed?

Every year, thousands of people block off the first weekend in May on their calendars to ensure they can make it to Churchill Downs to partake in all the exciting Kentucky Derby festivities. However, in January 1945, the government issued a total ban on horse racing because of World War II. All the workers, supplies, and funds put towards executing a major horse race were redirected to help fight the war. Many believed the race wouldn’t be run at all. Luckily, the horse racing ban was lifted in May of the same year.

Kentucky Derby organizers scrambled to find a way to recommence the event. Ultimately, the 71st running of the Kentucky Derby was held just two months after its original date, on June 9, 1945. Prior to the postponement of the 2020 race, this is the only other time in history that “The Run for the Roses” has been postponed.

Has Mother Nature ever played a part in postponing the race?

The Kentucky Derby has never been postponed or canceled due to bad weather. Churchill Downs consistently reiterates that the event is held rain or shine. In 2018, rain poured all day long and the 144th Kentucky Derby race still went off without a beat. All 157,000 spectators continued to cheer and enjoy their Derby Day – just wearing ponchos and rain boots!

Delayed races, however, are a possibility if the track is extremely flooded or lightning is occurring at the same time the race is supposed to go off. – I remember standing in the soaking rain waiting for Smarty Jones to etch his name in the history books.

Whatcha’ gonna’ do this Saturday?

How about a small party in honor of the big race? – Maybe a grill out, and make some adult beverages ( Mint Juleps). – There will be a “Fantasy Derby.” – Check out (HRRN) Horse Racing Radio Network @ horseracingradio.net – There will be a full-field of 20 and it will be on Sirius Radio 219, XM 201, and streamed live on site. – Go ahead and check it out now! – You can do family “pool bets” by picking a name out of the hat and enjoy the race. Guaranteed to get your inner-horseplayer ready for post time! – Live racing at Oaklawn Park offers up two Arkansas Derby races! – Live racing is the only wagering sport to taking place and it’s been shown on TVG, FS1, and NBCSN. Check your local listings for the entire race card. – It may not be the traditional Derby, but it will do until the first Saturday in September arrives. – My guess would be the largest Derby handle in history. Colonel Matt Winn would be happy watching from the heavens over the Twin Spires that day!

Have a libation, and sit back and enjoy yourself at home. – We’re all in this together and why not enjoy the racing on tap? – Oaklawn Park will have an incredible card and Winning Ponies will be ready and waiting with the one-of-a-kind E-Z Win Forms to make your day a winner. With over $2,065,249 in exotic winners to date, there is no better time to watch and wager from home with the best handicapping data for the sport. 

Check-in Thursday @ 8pm EDT for the Winning Ponies Internet Show with John Engelhardt. He’ll be breaking down the weekend races and talking Derby with you! – If you miss the live broadcast, it can be found on the Winning Ponies tab to catch the podcast.

Be sure to check in Friday for some free selections to whet your appetite for the big Saturday race card!

The Derby is just a few months away, and in the meantime, there has never been a better time to build your bankroll. – Be safe, and best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies!

 

 

The End of an Era

by Ed Meyer

posted on April 25, 2020 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | 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.

 

 

 

Tough Times – Tougher People

If you’re the dealer, I’m out of the game. If you are the healer I’m broken and lame. If Thine is the glory mine is the shame. If you want it darker, than we kill the flame. – Leonard Cohen. 

Every morning is like the movie Groundhog Day. – I check my phone or find my desk calendar to see what day it is. – Social media keeps us all in touch, and I really look forward to reading Facebook. – After reading about horses, sales, plans, and racing. I’ll peruse my usual spots for racing news. Some of the best places are  “groups” where people who share the love of our sport to gather and talk about horses. It’s our place to speak of our love of racing.

Stephen Romano has a Facebook site “Horse Racing Forum of America” dedicated to the love of the game and the loyal fans.  – There are morning birthday wishes accompanied by an upbeat feel. Great way to start the day. – You’ll hear his thick New York accent speaking of great days at the races, favorite riders, and a multitude of friends, Nothing better to start the morning.

As of late, there have been some pretty dark words. Not that our leader has turned sour, but a passionate voice speaking about what’s going on. – That’s the hard stuff. You know he’d rather be talking about Belmont or making plans for Saratoga. I love all of the pics he posts about his friends in racing. The riders, trainers, owners, and TV hosts. Stephen is a fan of the game in the truest sense. He’s the kind of guy you love to spend a day at the races with.

I’ve noticed he has spoken from the heart many times. – This tears me apart watching our fellow brothers and sisters hurt to the core. How he tried to implore others to follow the rules and shelter in place. An update on who has come in contact with the novel virus, and ones we have lost. I could see it in his eyes and hear the darkness of the moment.

He longs for a bad day at the races versus daily worries of life. Man, that would be a big win right now.

As we try to keep a sense of equanimity. I would suggest thinking about when the dust settles. – What tracks are you going to hit first? Are you going to make a trip to visit that special oval you always wanted to see? – The answer is yes! My list grows by the day, and I’m going to drive the tires off my car going to the track. Yes, it will come back, and we’ll fall in love all over again. In the meantime, here are a few things to do to keep you involved.

Use social media to stay in touch with other fans in “groups” who share the love of racing. – Call your buddy and hash over the day’s races. – Watch the big weekend races and relish the return to normalcy. Check-in each and every Thursday @ 8pm EDT for the Winning Ponies Internet Show, and if you miss it, go back and check it out on the podcast. John Englehardt brings you the action with some of the biggest names in racing. – Free selections are posted ( and we did pretty well last weekend!) – Go ahead and download your Winning Ponies E-Z Win Forms for the most comprehensive handicapping data. There’s never a bad time to build your bankroll.

Trust me, this too shall pass. – We’re all in this together and relish every time a track goes to post. – It’s time to feel good and enjoy the action. – From your friends at Winning Ponies, best of luck, and be safe. 

 

 

 

 

 

Free Selections – Saturday, April 18, 2020

Trapped at home? – Not much to do? – Download your E-Z Win Forms and head to the track. Or, just put on your lucky cap and head over to the computer. – Yeah, it’s not the same, but it will be a day of action-packed Thoroughbred coming your way. And, just when you thought it couldn’t get any better. Here are some free selections to whet your appetite for some red-hot runners! – Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies!

 

 

Gulfstream Park

 

Race #3 – Cat’s Astray = She ran as fast closing 2nd as the beaten chalk last out and is 5/8 ITM at GP. – Miguel Vasquez should have her right on the pace.

Race #4 – #1 – Chase Runner = Son of Big Brown has been knocking on the door and the rail is winning 19%. – He’ll be right on the leader’s heels. – He is 4/5 ITM at the distance.

Race #6 – #7 – Big Spender = 3rd off the layoff making a drop class. – The trainer wins 24% 3rd time off the shelf. – Emisael Jaramilo in the irons and he wins 20% with early runners.

Race #10 – #2 – Blood Moon = Son of Malibu Moon for Danny Gargan coming off a two-month layoff. – Drops in class and was claimed two races back. Gargan wins 26% 2nd time off the claim.

 

 

Oaklawn Park

 

Race#1 – #4 – Wenyen = Drops in class for Robertino Diodoro taking off the blinkers where the barn scores at a 36% clip.

Race #2 – #9 – Metropole = Son of Shackleford dropping down two class levels where trainer Brad Cox wins 33%. – He gets added distance from 6f to 1 1/16. – 2nd off the layoff yields a 29% win clip. Solid play on the card.

Race #7 – #5 – Dressman = Ships in from Santa Anita and been knocking on the door. He adds blinkers where Bob Baffert wins 32% putting them back on. He’s been off 49 days and looks ready to fire.

Race #8 – #2 – Flagstaff = John Sadler trainee making a 3rd off the layoff move. Bullet works in the morning and the red-hot Joel Rosario in the irons is a plus as he is winning 38% at the meet.

Race #10 – #12 – Go Google Yourself = She is 2/2 at OP with wins and trainer Paul McGee wins 22% with graded stakes. – She is 9/9 ITM at the distance and should stalk just off the pace at a big price.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small Tracks / Big Action

I had done my daily routine and found myself getting ready for bed at 5pm. What? – I know, we’re all a little off track these days. – That was until I checked in on the tracks running. To my surprise, Fonner Park was running and it was like a bright light in the world of racing fans.

My betting menu includes New York and Kentucky. Sprinkle in some California and Florida in the winter. – Yeah, that about covers every track running after looking back at my words.

But yesterday was a little different. – When I noticed Fonner was racing it picked up my spirits. Not much of a fan of the circuit as I would normally prefer Belmont, Keeneland, or Churchill. – This was not the case. I found myself diving in and enjoying the action. Funny how fickle horseplayers can be when it comes to having a day at the races.

On social media, other fans are on the same boat. We’re just happy to see the races running. Something so simple can make life feel normal. – I’m reading how everyone jumped into the pool yesterday. The pick-five pool. It had a whopping $3.6 million wagered on the final five races of the card. – Just the tonic for a day sitting around the house.

 

If you’re sitting around the house (which we all should be) take a gander at the races. If you aren’t a regular player just download your Winning Ponies E-Z Win Forms and make a couple wagers. I think you’ll fall in love all over again. Today you can watch and wager on Tampa Bay Downs, Will Rogers Downs, and Fonner Park. The action starts up at 12:30 pm EDT and should take you through 7 pm EDT. – Sound like fun? You bet it is! – What are ya’ waiting for? It’s almost post time!

 

 

The Happy Horseplayer – April 2020

by Ed Meyer

posted on April 8, 2020 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>

As the old saying goes; “may you live in interesting times.” – You have to admit these are certainly interesting, to say the least. These are some crazy times we are experiencing. – The HH is always taking the high road and looking forward to better days. I would give you a friendly suggestion to do the same. After all, we’re all in this together.

 

You can’t always get what you want

 

With few tracks, you’ll find yourself seeking action on ovals that you may have never played. Fonner Park? – I don’t think I’ve ever played a race there. But, in times of “take what you can get,” you’ll be glad to grab your PP’s and take a shot.  – If you’re sitting at home ( we hope) you can get in on a $497,811 mandatory pick-five payout. – Not bad for a Tuesday with just a couple tracks running. – You can’t win it unless you get in it!  First post / 5pm EDT today!

 

They tore down paradise and put up a big-time racino

Image may contain: tree and outdoor

 

Image may contain: sky, cloud and outdoor

 

Latonia Race Course opened the doors in 1959. – That lasted until Jerry Carroll and partners purchased the track in 1986. He once told me; ” Eddie, clean up the place and give it a new coat of paint and you’ll make 40% overnight.” – Jerry did more than that and brought about full card simulcasting in a state-of-the art facility. The creation of the Kentucky Cup Day of Champions.

It has been sold to CDI and they are going to tear it down and come up with a brand new racino. – Racing will continue and the purses will be strong. – I grew up running around as a kid at the old track. I know every inch of the place, and it was my first big break into the sport. – I’ll miss the old place but look forward to making new memories.

Until next month. Keep you and yours safe and stay at home! – This too shall pass and we’ll all be back to the races soon. – Best of luck from the HH and your friends at Winning Ponies! 

 

Life on Lockdown

by Ed Meyer

posted on March 30, 2020 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>

In the meantime, we get to watch and wager on tracks that are still conducting live racing. Not bad. It could be worse; we could be watching re-runs of M*A*S*H for the 1,000th time. – So enjoy the races and build your bankroll. You’ll be glad you did once the world opens up again. I have a homework assignment for you. – Take a few minutes and think about what tracks you’ll be visiting later in the year. Will it be a major oval, or just a fun day at a county fair. – You’ve got some time, so put it to good use.

 

1. – Keeneland

 

I can’t wait! – It will be like walking into Yankee Stadium as Keeneland is unique and beautiful. – If you haven’t made the trek. Put it on the bucket list.

 

 

 

 

2. – Indiana Grand

My Dad and I used to go up and hit a night at the races. – I’m gonna grab him up and take him for live racing. – His birthday is June 9th and I’m sure we’ll enjoy the ride.

 

 

 

 

3. – Van Wert Fair

 

It will take place on September 1 – 7th and racing will be on tap. – I have heard from racing friends this will be a day well spent. – Friendship, food, and racing. What more could you want? – I’m hankering for a deep-fried corndog!

 

 

 

 

4. – The Red Mile

 

 

Established in 1875, the red-clay surface has seen some of the best in Harness racing take the track. – I absolutely love this place. So many memories and I can’t wait to return. Especially in the late summer/fall as you’ll see the best in the world with the Grand Circuit meet.

 

I’m gonna take more time to enjoy the sport. – No rushing around, but slowing down and taking it all in. – Life has changed for all of us and there is a feeling of gratitude. I’ve noticed it on little trips to the store, gas station, etc. People seem a little more kind and smile without looking at a cell phone.

Racing is a way of life for many, a career, and the most exciting sport to watch and wager. – Yeah, it’s fair to say I’m really going to take my time. I’ve always enjoyed the game but I can’t wait until the fans are allowed to return. For me, they’ve been the lifeblood of making the sport great. – If you find you have some time, download your E-Z Win Forms and watch live racing on FS1, NBCSN, or TVG. If you’re playing from home, the computer can put you right on the rail to enjoy the action. – Winning Ponies is ready to make your day at the races enjoyable and profitable. – So, plan ahead for this weekend and download your E-Z Win Forms to start building your bankroll. – Be well, be safe, and best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies!

Should We Close the Curtains?

 

 

After a stellar day of racing with the Florida Derby card yesterday. It was hard to believe we are living in the times of a pandemic. – The sun was shining and you could see the ocean far off in the distance. Everything looked perfect as announcer Pete Aiello called the horses onto the track. – One of the first things that caught my eye was the pony people wearing masks as they lead horses onto the track. – Just as I felt everything was normal; this brought the reality back into focus.

Normally, Gulfstream is “home of killing four extra minutes to post.” – You know, circle them one more time and watch the handle skyrocket. But, this was not the case today. The earlier races ran on time like the Italian train system. But, I digress. – The races were a needed break away if only for a few hours. – The day did not disappoint, as we watched talking heads handicapping races from home.  Everything was in full effect and all precautions are taken. – Yeah, it was a good day.

Many tracks are changing. – Aqueduct Racetrack once called the “Mecca”. Because it was considered holy land with such great racehorses like Kelso, Secretariat, Forego, Ruffian, Pebbles gracing this holy ground. And October 6, 1995, Pope John Paul ll blessed this sacred racetrack with a crowd of more than 75,000. – The New York Racing Association announced Saturday that live racing at Aqueduct Racetrack is canceled for the remainder of the winter and spring meets with the building now set to serve as a temporary hospital site during the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. – On Friday, New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that New York would seek the required federal approval to construct a temporary hospital at Aqueduct Racetrack to serve the borough of Queens with a 1,000-plus patient overflow facility. This action aligns with New York state’s goal to provide COVID-19 patient overflow facilities in each NYC borough as well as Westchester, Rockland, Nassau and Suffolk counties. – The “Mecca” is still watching over us. It has served in many capacities and now it is taking care of so many who need it more than ever. This is not the first time race tracks have played a role in helping the community. – In 2001, Belmont Park served as one of the staging areas for emergency vehicles and personnel in the days following 9/11. Less than seven weeks later, on October 27, 2001, Belmont Park was the site of the first major international sporting event post-9/11 in New York when it hosted the Breeders’ Cup.

Many have canceled and called it a race meet. – It makes good sense and it’s a wonder why it took so long to pull the plug. – I’d go to the races during a hurricane. But, there are circumstances that just outweigh the sport. I have to admit when Turfway Park called off its last three days. It hit hard financially on many. – No cancellations for the first time in memory and the winter climate was mild. I really thought we going to make it. – But, the Governor weighed in with common sense and safety practices for all. It was time to close the curtains for now. It will return bigger, brighter, and ready to race later in the year.

Thoroughbred racetracks in action Saturday include Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs in Florida, Oaklawn Park in Arkansas and northern California’s Golden Gate Fields, all operating behind doors closed to the public.

Given the ever-changing status of racing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, stakeholders in southern California hope to have Santa Anita Park back on the schedule soon. In an email distributed late Friday, the Thoroughbred Owners of California informed the membership that Santa Anita’s sudden halt to racing “remains a fluid situation.” It was upon an order from the LA County Department of Health that Santa Anita was mandated to cease racing operations minutes before the first post time Friday. – Hope spring’s eternal trying to keep life as normal as possible. But, for me, its safety first. We know the spread continues and the numbers continue to climb. Maybe this once, the only game in town should close the curtains and care for those who live to tend to the horses and others associated with the game.

After watching some great races and worrying about the people who come into contact during regular work routines. We should close the doors. – We are resilient and there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. – Give it a little time and allow the medical community to do its part in keeping down the spread. – There will be better times. Believe it or not, racing and life will return to normal before you know it. – I’ll be seeing you at the races very soon!

 

The following tracks have either suspended or canceled their meets:

  • Aqueduct (remainder of the meet)
  • Birmingham (through April 6th)
  • Buffalo (resumes May 2nd)
  • Charles Town (indefinite)
  • Dubai World Cup (March 28th)
  • Evangeline (undetermined start to meet)
  • Fair Grounds (remainder of the meet)
  • Fairmount (at least March 30th)
  • Flamboro (until March 31st)
  • France – all meets (through April 15th)
  • Freehold (through March 21st)
  • Harrington (resumes April 1st)
  • IRE Flat Racing (through April 19th)
  • Keeneland (entire Spring Meet)
  • Laurel (undetermined)
  • Louisiana Downs (remainder of QH Meet)
  • Mahoning Valley (indefinite)
  • Meadowlands (undetermined)
  • MEX-Caliente (indefinite, beginning March 25th)
  • Monmouth (meet will now start May 23rd)
  • Monticello (through March 29th)
  • New Zealand (indefinite)
  • Northfield (through March 27th)
  • Northville (at least two weeks)
  • Parx (two weeks)
  • Penn National (undetermined)
  • Pocono (at least two weeks)
  • Pompano Park (undetermined)
  • Rillito (through March 22nd)
  • Rosecroft (undetermined)
  • Sam Houston (remainder of the meet)
  • Santa Anita (indefinite)
  • Saratoga H (indefinite starting March 23rd)
  • South Africa (March 27th-April 17th)
  • Sunland (three weeks)
  • The Meadows (undetermined)
  • Turf Paradise (remainder of Meet)
  • Turfway (remainder of the meet)
  • UK Flat Racing (through April 30th)
  • Woodbine-Mohawk (undetermined)
  • Yonkers (through March 18th)

 

 

 

Racing in the Time of Corona

by Ed Meyer

posted on March 25, 2020 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>

 

What will you do? – Back to the old grind or begin a new chapter? – I think we all ponder these thoughts but hold them under our breath. That’s all good for many, but not for me. It’s going to be a whole new time for this fella when the new day arrives.

As we live in the times of Corona, we’ve had to take a big step back. – Our lives have changed quite a bit. – We live in a smaller version of what we once had and are grateful. Now, I know it’s for the good of all keeping the enemy at bay secluding ourselves in a small bubble. But that’s what the doctor ordered. –  For now.

I’ve started to keep a journal about what I’m going to do when the smoke clears. – First, I’m going to stop at that little Mexican restaurant in Lexington. I’ve always driven past, and never took the time to stop and enjoy the fare. But, this time. I’ll take the time to enjoy the day.

Second, these past few years have been filled with a few health challenges. – I’ve been kept from going to my favorite track; Keeneland. – I’m going to contact a friend who can help with some nice tickets and enjoy a day at the races overlooking the paddock. – Beautiful place. Guests dressed up and enjoying a day at the races. – You know, the way it was meant to be. Not rushed and hurried, but rather savored like a fine wine or a Cuban cigar. – Speaking of that cigar. It’s been donkey’s years since I’ve smoked. – I’m going to buy a Maker’s Mark hand-rolled cigar and enjoy it on the apron with the sun on my face. – Nothing like it.

Third. I have a few pals who always ask but I seem to find a way to wriggle out of taking the time to hit the track. – No more. If I really want to go; off and away I’ll travel. – Nothing like enjoying a day at the races with folks you enjoy. – Savor the day and remember each moment.

These are just the things I’ll do on day one. It will be the first of many for the second chance we ask. – This time has refocused me on the things that matter. – As I’ve been working at Turfway Park these past months, I’ve enjoyed learning a whole new facet of the racing world. – For decades I’ve worked on the front side in a marketing / handicapping role. Radio, TV, and handicapping seminars. – Working in the racing office has been a whole new day. Learning the ropes of how the game comes together has been enjoyable. Seeing the trainers and grooms on the front side is a different game. I’ve had the opportunity to see them in their world up close.

During the time of quarantine and social distancing, we’ve appreciated the little things. – There are no sports being played with no more wagers at the sportsbook you use to enjoy. – But a handful of tracks have been allowed to race. Once again, it’s the only game in town if you want to get your bet on. – It’s kinda like going back in a time machine when casinos were only allowed in Vegas and Atlantic City. Sportsbook operations were a faraway dream, and racetracks were the only legal way to wager. – These were glorious times and we’ve been treated to a little blast from the past.

Full fields, and heart-pounding Thoroughbred action. – Even the TV handicappers work from remote locations as races are run with no cheering fans in the stands. – Eerie watching the first race, but it allowed me to enjoy the game like it was my first trip. You watch and wager by computer and mobile device and the handle has been through the roof.  This short term gain for the sport has really made me stand back and take it all in. – I despise the reason for the handle spike, but it’s been interesting to see.

As monies swell the pools it makes me wonder what we’ve been doing wrong. – You know, losing out to the competition.  In a world of rapid-fire fast-paced gaming, there’s no patience for a 20-minute lull between races. But, when it’s the only game around gamblers love it. – I think we need to address these areas when the fog lifts and we’re back to a new day. Give the fans what they want. After all, it’s their game to play. – No more charging for valet parking, long lines for stale food, and outdated places to sit and watch. – We’ll have a second chance to fix what ails the sport we love.

If you haven’t been watching, some of the major sports networks have been showcasing racing. Except for the one who showed the rock skipping championship of 2004. But, I digress. – We need to look forward and not dwell on this time. We are resilient. It will come to pass but not for now. – Do what is being asked and relish the small treat of enjoying the races from home. – Get to know your family and friends again via electronic assistance and take a deep cleansing breath. Make plans for that restaurant you’ll visit when you’re allowed and take the time. – Call your Mom, walk the dog more, and go see relatives we’ve been too busy to visit. – I’m making plans, but in the meantime using this time to reboot. Clear my head and enjoy the small things we’ve taken for granted. – I hope when the new day arrives we stop staring at cell phones with a table full of friends or family. We’ll watch children play and enjoy the errands we use to call to-do lists. This time is scary and uncertain. But it has allowed me to slow down and pay attention to what matters.

Yeah, when the smoke clears. – Oh, and if you’re looking for me I’ll be the guy driving with his sunroof open to his favorite track. – Until then, I’ll see you at the races. Soon…