It’s Good to Be the King

by Ed Meyer

posted on August 8, 2018 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>





Looking at the competition can be blinding. – Once there was racing, baseball and boxing and the rest of the sports world just watched. If you wanted to get a bet down you had to go to the track. – There were plenty of bookies and guys who would make a bet, but racing was king. – What happened? – Simulcast came and the purses went up. Then fewer racing days became the mantra of “less is more.” – Tracks began expanding dates, and ten years later retracted the decision. What changed?

We’ve heard the story of the squirrel who played all day and didn’t gather any nuts. He enjoyed the summer sun and just watched as the others just worked and toiled preparing for winter. He thought there was plenty of time and he’d get around to it later. – Well, we know what happened to the squirrel when the first frost came. He was out in the cold. – The same thing happened to racing.

Thoroughbred racing was the undisputed king and had no competition. – Then came the lottery, and then a few casinos dotted the nation. – No worries, we’re still the king and we don’t worry. – Racing started growing in the late 80’s early 90’s with the advent of simulcast wagering. – These were the days of tall cotton and race books that had a Vegas feel started growing inside the monstrous old tracks. Fans packed in, and still, the tracks rolled in the summer sun like our friend the squirrel. – The chant of less racing days and bigger purses became the mantra, and we loved the times of doing less and getting more.

There was the talk of a casino starting nearby, and we never worried. – We’re the king, and we don’t flinch. – It seemed a million years away until they started inviting us to join them for the VIP opening. – We all had a great time and relished the Las Vegas-style atmosphere. – We never thought this riverboat on the Ohio River would ever give us a bruise. But like our friend the squirrel, This was the beginning of a long cold winter.

The track went to free parking and admission to give the players a little thank you. – Then came free seating, and the crowds still dwindled. Longtime track staff started bolting for other jobs, and the new mindset was doing the job with fewer people. ” We didn’t need to have all this payroll and we’ll come back.” – As time passed so did the employees. They would stay a few months and left after doing three and four jobs. Once the heavyweight champ was now a chump looking back at the glory days.

More casinos came, and other tracks started being bought out by casino companies. – This was the savior we were waiting for until racing found out the new owners didn’t care about the sport. ” It’s just a necessary evil and we’ll dump when we can down the road.” – Talk about the Trojan Horse. – They came into facilities with a gaming license and just built around them. – Only a handful of tracks really cared about racing and they still put on a good show. The others just tolerate racing until they can cut bait and grow the casino side. Why not? The rake was much higher and much easier than putting together a costly racing operation.

There was an article in the Daily Racing Form years ago. It spoke of ten “super tracks” and the rest would fall by the wayside. – This couldn’t be true because we were once the king. – Tracks like: Beulah, Calder, Great Lakes Downs, Hollywood Park, Pinnacle Race Course, Rockingham, and River Downs just to name a few became memories. – Casinos, racinos, and expanded lottery cut the king into a pauper. All the while we could see it coming and did nothing to stay afloat. – We used to be the king.

Now, fast forward and the tide may be turning. There are some casino owners who see racing as an investment in making the property a destination. – It is taking time, but racing is starting to make a little comeback. – We’re still far from the finish but the outcome could be positive in keeping the sport alive. – There is a new approach, and maybe less is more. More in the sense that we don’t need year-round racing. Maybe smaller tracks need to run on off days away from the big boys. This gives the fans something to watch and wager daily. – There’s a renewed interest in the sport and racing is not the bad child anymore. – So, if you’ve ever been a fan. Get away from wagering on the computer and make a trek or two every month and go back to the races. If we could get two more visits every month from fans who once used to come all the time. The game will start growing again.

I’m seeing giveaways, T-shirt tosses to the crowd, free concerts, and family days. – The game is being revived, and it is up to the fans to keep it going. Pass the torch and bring a new person to the races. That’s how we all learned years ago, and who knows? Maybe we’ll all fall in love all over again. – We fell asleep at the wheel years ago, and racing got the standing eight count racing needed. – Let our friend the squirrel teach us a lesson. Let’s prepare for the future and still enjoy the sun.



The Happy Horseplayer

It’s that time of the month where the H.H. checks in and lets you know what’s going on in the world of a happy gambler. – There is plenty of housekeeping that needs to be tended as we enjoy summer racing and prepare for the fall meets just around the corner. So far so good, and the racing has been better than the law allows. – Get out and spend a day at the races. It’s time to fall in love all over again.


Warrior update

At my little oval, there are two warrior riders who are approaching a huge milestone. – Edgar Paucar has 2,999 wins as of today and has 11 mounts over the next three days. I’m pretty sure he’s going to get his 3,000 career win at Mountaineer. There are many who argue on social media about where he should get it, but that’s not important. The Peruvian rider has had a wonderful career and its far from over. It doesn’t matter where he gets it as long as he nails down the big number. – Edgar, all of your fans at Belterra are rooting for you and we hope you get the 1,000 lb. boulder off your back. It will be a great day to reach this huge milestone. – Good luck!

Perry Wayne Ouzts is 64-years-young and has 6,965 career wins. – I’ve been watching him ride since I was a young man and to think he is only 35 wins away from career win 7,000 is pretty exciting. – I guess this is old hat at the big tracks, but it’s rare to have the 9th all-time leading rider in your own backyard. – I sure hope Perry reaches this next goal as the meet ends on September 30th. – He has enough time, and we need to see him reel off a couple days where he takes down a hat-trick. He’s done it plenty, and after he told me he was going to get it this summer I’ve been watching with anticipation.


Horse Watch

It is that time of year where we clear out files on horses-to-watch. – There are plenty of places for free that offer a stable alert and will email you when they are running or have worked. – Great thing to have at your fingertips and no more carrying around a bunched up list of runners in your pocket. – I just spent an hour clearing mine and updating a few. – Take a few minutes and work on yours or sign up and take advantage of this great free service. – Trip handicapping is one of the best ways to follow your horse back to the winner’s circle.


A Run of Good Luck

I’m not bragging but I’ve had a good run of luck lately. – Actually more than my average days. I’ve been betting in my ADW account and when I win I withdraw the funds immediately. – This way I can pay some bills, get my son ready for his senior year in high school. – I think more players leave the money in their accounts and just let it accumulate. I liken it to gamblers at casino tables who allow the $25 chips to stack up and not trade them in for $100 chips that go in your top pocket. That was always my idea of trying to leave with some house money and I’ve been keeping up-to-speed with my betting account.  You’ll never know what you had unless you pull out some money and enjoy the check when it arrives. – The “Wagering Gods” smile down on upon you and it is your responsibility to handle the money management end. Nothing lasts forever and it’s in your best interest to take them out and start over. – Best of luck when playing the races!


This is the Happy Horseplayer wishing you the best of luck. – Take some time and enjoy the game. Walk down to the paddock and see the sport up close. I’ve never been on the field for an NFL game and this allows you to be close enough to enjoy the sights and smells. Nothing like it. – Every race is a gift and if you don’t win there’s always next time. Just enjoy the races and allow the sun to beam down on your face. If you don’t like a runner in this race, skip it and go get an ice cream and watch. Think of it as a scouting mission and you’re planning for future races. – As always, best of luck and enjoy. Be sure to call up an old friend and get together for a day watching the ponies. It’s time well spent and you’ll look forward to the next trip. – Until next month, may your photos be winners and your losses be few.

Free Selections – Saturday & Sunday 7/28 & 7/29 – Winning Ponies

Nothing like a little appetizer to whet your whistle for the weekend. – Use this as a reminder for all the great racing, and download your Winning Ponies EZ Win Forms for the one and only answer to unlocking your bankroll builders. – Summer racing is starting to heat up and there’s only one place that is sure to answer your handicapping needs. Winning



Race #8 – The G1 AG Vanderbilt – 6f – 5:02 EDT

#3 – Warrior’s Club = Cuts back from 7f to 6f for the D. Wayne Lukas barn. Luis Saez in the irons and this colt is 2/2 ITM over the Saratoga oval.


Race #9 – The G2 Bowling Green – 1 3/8 on the turf – 5:40 pm EDT

#6 – Sadler’s Joy = Javier Castellano in the saddle aboard this son of Kitten’s Joy. He is 3/4 ITM over the course and has a swift turn of foot when they square off at the top of the lane. Thomas Albertrani is the conditioner and you can count on this guy getting into the mix as the field makes a sweeping move for home.


Race #10 – The G2 Jim Dandy – 1 1/8 – 6:18 pm EDT

#2 – Tenfold = This son of Curlin has been off since the Belmont and has Ricardo Santanna in the driver’s seat. He is up for his go-to-guy Steve Asmussen and he’s been off almost a month to freshen up. He can stalk just off the pace and make a well-timed run at the 3/16th’s pole.


Del Mar

Race #5 – The G1 Clemente Hirsch – 1 1/16

#2 – Unique Bella = She’s a filly by Tapit for the Jerry Hollendorfer barn. She is looking to make it 5-in-a-row and has the services of “Money” Mike Smith in the irons. Smith is winning 19% for Hollendorfer at the meet and she looks like a free spot in multi-race wagers. – Look for a quick break and a wire-to-wire trip.





Race #7 – The G2 Royal North – 6f on the turf

#4 – Smiling Causeway = 2nd start off the layoff for this daughter of Giant’s Causeway. – Daniel Centeno has the call for Arnaud Delacour and she is 6/6 ITM on the greensward. – She has a blazing turn of foot and can put out their lights quickly if left alone on the lead. – Her quick effort at Parx was pretty smooth and now has a chance to enjoy the lush green at Woodbine.



** There is a $400,000 Guaranteed Pick-Four Races 9-12 **

Race #9 – The G3 Matchmaker – 1 1/8 on the turf – 4:05 pm EDT

Use: #1 – Viva Vegas, #2 – Dream Awhile, #7 – Elysea’s World


Race #10 – The G3 Molly Pitcher – 1 1/16 – 4:36 pm EDT

Use: #3 – Divine Miss Grey, #6 – Unchained Melody, #8 – Berned


Race #11 – The Wolf Hill – 5 1/2f on turf – 5:12 pm EDT

Use: #3 – Proforma, #5 – Dubini, #10 – Pool Winner, #11 – Imprimus


Race #12 – The G1 Haskell Invitational – 1 1/8 – 5:45 pm EDT

Use: #1 – Lone Sailor, #4 – Core Beliefs, #6 – Good Magic


Ticket cost= $54 for a 50-cent ticket











Still Swinging for the Fences

Horse racing was the only game in town. There was no lottery long ago, and you had to travel to Vegas if you wanted legal games of chance. Talk about having your cake and eating it too. – Racing, Baseball, and Boxing were the big three in the country as far as sports to watch. But times have changed a bit. – It’s no secret that tracks have been coming up with everything under the sun to stay afloat. Thoroughbred racing is kind of like the squirrel who played all summer while others stocked away food for the winter.

I’ve been a part of many types of “bandage” ideas as tracks have fought to keep the game alive. – I can only wonder what past management was thinking. Were they just caught up in the good times and they thought summer would never end? – I’m not certain, but one thing is for sure. There was no long-range planning in place.

Dueling Grounds was on the border of Kentucky and Tennesee and had NO competition. It had been shuttered due to poor management and closed under a cloud of controversy. – That was until Turfway Park and partners decided to purchase the undulating turf facility and revive it. There was nothing but dust and locked doors when we arrived, and the place was still incredible. It has the look of a southern mansion and inside was a restaurant and simulcast parlor. – Pretty good spot for a place that had no competition. – The only thing that was going on as far as gaming was charitable gaming bingo. In that part of the state bingo is still a hot game.

Dueling Grounds needed a little boost. – I made my way to the Chase law library and spent about 6 hours doing research on getting charitable gaming bingo revived. It was a labor of love as I wanted to see the facility come back to life. – After two days, I put together a report for our management to fill-out and sign. – About three weeks later we had the first session, and bingo helped jump-start the facility to the doors and go full speed. – A few sales later, it became Kentucky Downs and is a first class operation relished by racing fans around the country.

Turfway Park saw the progress from Dueling Grounds and tried to follow suit. – But they wanted to try charitable poker tournaments as well. It never really took off since there were three casinos in a 40-minute drive. – Turfway was a juggernaut for a long time, but the intense competition just squeezed it into a much smaller operation. They still operate full time and offer year-round simulcast wagering with a winter date live racing meet. – The competition has only grown and has three new racinos and the largest casino is only ten miles away. New ownership from the JACK casino and Turfway is still swinging at the plate. It’s been in operation since 1959 and I don’t see it stopping anytime soon.

Turfway is a survivor. They are trying to install Instant Racing machines and the area is going to take part in a test. – EquiLottery and Penn National Gaming Inc. have reached an agreement to offer Penn National racetrack content for EquiLottery’s “Win Place Show” pilot program through the Kentucky Lottery, a lottery game based on the results of live horse racing. The pilot begins March 24, 2019, and will span 90 days. This program will be offered through 45 exclusive test retailers across Louisville, Lexington, and Northern Kentucky.

For the longest time, the old adage of “less is more” has been given to horse racing. – Maybe it’s the fans being over-saturated in markets, and having fewer racing dates have been the topic of discussion. What say you? – You’re the consumer and what would you want. Would you rather see fewer dates with a little better purse structure, or have a longer meet?  – I can see the point of both and neither is without drawbacks. The fewer dates affect jobs in the facility and are harder to keep quality people for a short meet. On the other hand, if there are some better purses it may attract horsemen to ship in and take down the cash the smaller outfits used to count on to stay in business. – Choose a direction. Neither will be easy, and whichever you choose will not please the other.

A Day at the Races

by Ed Meyer

posted on July 24, 2018 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>

I went into the weekend with excitement to play Saratoga and try to make a few bucks. – Trying to score is not a bad thing and keeping the bankroll growing is a great thing. – The best part of working at the track is you’ll never know what you’ll see. Maybe it’s an old friend or a favorite jockey who has a mount in your neck of the woods. Anything goes at the races, and this weekend was pretty cool.


Warriors of the turf

Perry Ouzts and Mario Pino had mounts on Sunday. Pino was in town to ride a stake and Ouzts was riding all day long. – The best part of the story is they’re the 9th and 10th all-time leading riders in the history of the sport. – Watching Perry stand next to Mario was worth its weight in gold. Two riders who are in the top ten riders in history standing in the winner’s circle at Belterra Park. I guess you would see this in your mind’s eye at Saratoga, Churchill or Keeneland. – But here we are watching two of the greats in our sport. – Then if it couldn’t get any better they are joined by T.D. Houghton and DeShawn Parker who are 21st and 23rd all-time. You could say it was a fun day watching two riders I’ve followed most of my life. – Perry Ouzts is nearing his 7,000th win and I think he’ll get it this meet.


The old and the new

I saw some familiar faces as I was leaving the track. Stopped down to the race book and saw an older gent in a wheelchair. He was sitting quietly while his son would make his bets and come right and sit close. – The father was in his late 80’s and looked small. – I remember when he would pull up to the track in his truck and stride in with a little boy around his neck. – The sun was shining and the times seemed eternal. – Seeing them still doing what they shared was good. Getting old is part of the plan but losing our passion is not. It was great to see them. – Earlier in the day, I saw another father and son duo, and the son was pushing a stroller with his wife. It was a beautiful sight seeing the generations doing what they shared. Made me smile as I saw them standing near the rail watching the ponies.


Old Friends

It is always good to share a little time with an old friend. Especially ones you’ve worked with at the track. – I ran into a fella who was a longtime steward. He used to be a rough and tumble rider at River Downs and Beulah and lost his wife over the winter. – He had an ear-to-ear smile. He turned in his shirt and tie for a summer shirt and golden tan. He looked happy and made his way around talking to the many he worked with for years. – I had heard he was having a tough time, but just being back at the races can do wonders for your soul.

There is a gent who loves the ponies so much it is hard to imagine him not in the grandstands. – He’s a big guy who has the look of a retired football player with a gentle as a puppy manner. He always likes to come up and visit once a year and we talk horses and he watches me do a race or two. He loves having the best seat in the house and is a pleasure to chat with. Stop up anytime, Bob. Always a pleasure talking horses with you.

What Makes You Happy ?

by Ed Meyer

posted on July 18, 2018 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>

Every morning your feet hit the floor should be first. But it’s what comes after that says a lot about you. – For me, it’s my son, family, and friends. Work comes closing fast to complete the superfecta and ranks pretty close. – I’m very grateful and have been most of my life. Maybe it was my mom’s doing, or getting to enjoy the small things that turned out to be the best things. Either way, I’ve enjoyed this summer immensely.

My job is one of the best in the world, but don’t tell anyone. I don’t want to have 100 resumes waiting on my bosses’ desk. – There hasn’t been a day where my car hit the parking lot and I regretted being there. – My dad told me to find something you love and you won’t have to work again. I’ve been off enjoying the eternal summer for quite some time and I hope it lasts for many moons to come. – I may be just getting started.

Watching jockeys has always been interesting for me. – Pound for pound they are the best athletes in any sport. I watch them ride in the heat, the cold, and everything in between. – I’ve seen them get tossed off an 1,100 pound Thoroughbred, and get right back up and win the next. For me that’s amazing. – The way they balance the tip of a boot with only toes in the stirrups or pull a horse right back up when they went to their knees at the start. It’s like watching a ballet dancer with the strength of an ox. Amazing. – Perry Ouzts is 64-years-young. He’s quiet and never claims a foul. – His ability to get a horse to break quickly is nothing short of breathtaking. He is the 9th all-time leading rider in history and has 6,954 wins. He is 46 away from 7,000, and we have 46 days left in the meet. I’m sure I don’t need to mention it to him as it’s probably one of the greatest things on his mind besides his beautiful family. – I’ve never seen anything like him before and doubt I ever will. He told me after 6,900 at the beginning of the meet; “Ed, I’m gonna’ get it right here at Belterra this summer. If Perry tells you something like that you can start etching it in stone. – I sure hope Perry gets his milestone. Nothing makes me happier than watching him jog slowly back to the winner’s circle like he’s enjoying a fine wine. He savors every step and knows what he wants to accomplish. – Age is a number and he’s sure called its bluff. – Best of luck, Perry. I want to be there when you and yours celebrate the big win.

Betting this year has been a little slower for me. – I’ve concentrated more on my job and love handicapping for our tip sheet. I’m winning at 30% and ITM almost 78%. I sure hope anyone who buys a copy is riding right with me. – Plus my son is graduating high school this year, and college is closing fast on the outside. – I never really tried to make him a race tracker as a promise to his mom. She never knew the beauty and excitement of the sport, but I’ve kept my word. He’s been with me many times and has fun trying to win a few bucks. – He asked me the other day; “Dad, when I get to college and the guys want to go to the races will you show me how to handicap?” – You bet, my boy. I’ll be glad to show you.

This year has me more grateful for things we sometimes take for granted. – I have family and friends, and one of the best brothers money couldn’t buy. Add in a job I love and a roof over my head and you have one happy camper. – Oh, I’ll fire up a couple days at Saratoga, and who knows maybe it will be a sweet win. But I’m happy none the less. – Age has given me a sense of calm and an appreciation of what matters most. – I’ve been writing for Winning Ponies since 2008, and this has been one of the times to sit down and talk about racing and what matters. I have light music in the background and just speak from my heart. – It’s the only way I know, and they have given me a platform to do what I love. – Good people who do great work. If you haven’t already, check them out and see for yourself. – Be sure to listen in on Thursday nights to the Winning Ponies Internet Show. One of my best friends is on, and he can spin a tale or just bring the best of racing to your ears. John Collins Engelhardt has been one of the best guys I’ve met in racing. He’s helped me land a few jobs, and has shown me more than I can remember. For that, I’m eternally grateful.

While we just started summer take some time and appreciate the days. – If you go to the races, take your time. Walk down and watch the horses saddle. Listen as trainers impart worldly wisdom as the riders get a leg up in the saddle. – Make your way to the rail and watch as the assistant starters jostle around keeping riders and horses safe. – Once the gates break feel the whooooosh of air as the horses blaze from the gate. Go the winner’s circle and watch the happy winners, and see the losers console and make plans for next time. – Nothing like it.  – Just take the time and head out for a day at the races. I think you’ll fall in love all over again.

The Happy Horseplayer

by Ed Meyer

posted on July 11, 2018 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>

As we break into the month of July the heat and humidity have taken the place of the cool crisp air. – Some of my favorite summer tracks are getting ready to open. – How can you not enjoy the historic Saratoga races? You’ll see the biggest outfits in the sport descend on the oldest race track in the country. – Or, if the Spa isn’t your cup of tea how about the one-of-a-kind place where the surf meets the turf? – Incredible racing at both and I know summer is in full bloom when they arrive. – I love to see the red and white canopies in New York and the sound of Bing Crosby at the end of the day at Del Mar singing ” Where the surf meets the turf.”


Summer brings turf into full swing. – I would rather bet the greensward than anything else. I’m pretty sure it began when I watched my first Arlington Million years ago at River Downs. – The simulcast explosion had not taken place, and what a treat it was to have one race being shown at our local track. – Teleprompter was ridden by Tony St. Ives in the “Miracle Million” where temporary stands were in place for the 35,000 in attendance. -A fire had ravaged the grandstand and clubhouse and the meet was moved to Hawthorne Race Course, but the first million-dollar race was still held at Arlington. – I guess if you cash a nice winner it’s a day you’ll always remember.

I enjoy all the seasons watching horse racing. But there’s something special about having the sun on your face watching them thunder for home. – It takes me back and reminds me of the days when I first fell in love with racing. Jogging from the parking lot with my dad and racing to the gates. I would walk to the paddock, and he would eventually allow me to make the trek alone when I became old enough.  I watched with baited breath seeing small-time claiming trainers saddle their runners. For me, it was better than having a front row seat on Derby Day. – Eventually, this is where I was allowed to make one or two place bets. I couldn’t wait until my dad would ask me who I liked. Once you get the call it means you are now a part of the club. – Nothing like summer racing and for me it holds many special memories.

As always I am still the grateful fan. Having a few bucks on a race gives you a thrill that is still hard to explain. It’s even better when then they win. – I get to see old faces and meet new ones.  Working at the track is a neat experience. There’s never been a day when my car pulled into the parking lot that I’ve regretted working there. – Oh, I won’t be a millionaire but my memories and experiences are worth more than money. – This year I’ve had many things to be grateful, and walking into the track is the cherry on my sundae. – As always, I ask you to take someone new to the races. It’s the best way to introduce someone to the greatest sport to watch and wager. Also, take someone who hasn’t been in awhile. Let the races be the greatest trip you’ll make all year. – Nothing like a day watching the ponies. The stories, the pre-race chatter, and the after race excuses. Nothing like spending some time with those you enjoy making a bet or two. – Until next month, this is the Happy Horseplayer wishing you the best of luck!

View From Above

by Ed Meyer

posted on July 11, 2018 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>

I have the best seat in the house at work. Think of it like a corner office in the city. You can see everything, and pretty much they can see me. – The families, the fans, and the gamblers. Best seat in the house I tell ya’. – I have watched fans from every walk and watching never gets old. The view has allowed me to guess pretty good on where you fit in the crowd. I’ve always said the fans are the best part of the game. If you don’t believe me just grab a seat up high and kick back and do a little people watching. It runs a close second to the action on the track.


The families

This is always good. – Little kids with Mom and Dad, or just sharing some time with grandpa. – They make their way down to the paddock and watch the 1,100 pound Thoroughbreds saddle up and walk in the ring. – They have the look of a boxer getting ready to climb in the ring to do battle. – They are close but far enough away to be safe. Some take pictures and others just soak in the sun watching them ready. – If you haven’t been down go ahead and make the walk down. It’s always a great place to get up close to the action.

Kids standing near the outer rail waiting for an out-riding pony to stop. They’re gentle but strong and the riders bring them by for the little ones to feel the velvet softness of a horse’s nose. – They gently brush their face and the pony riders give the kids mints to feed their horses. – Simple pleasures before the pony take the horses to the starting gate.


The Groups

They are easy to see. – They usually travel in a group, sit together, watch the race together, and leave together – They get there early to grab the tables near the rail. – The best place to catch the action and close enough to talk with others. These fans usually dress for the day and have special hats and bright summer clothes. – A day at the races has been on their calendar for months and you bet they’ll make plans for the next trip before they leave.


The Horseplayers

Also easy to see as they have a program rolled tight in their back pocket. A Daily Racing Form in hand, or a clipboard filled with notes. – Mostly they are alone and sometimes you’ll see a few in a group. – They are the lone wolf as it allows for quick and easy access to head up and make a bet. They make play simulcast or follow the live races. – Either way, they move on a dime and know exactly what time it is by which race is coming up. – They have been the lifeblood of the track since the first race took place.


Stoopers and Dumpster Divers

They walk around and have the agile ability of a soccer player kicking over a ticket. They’re looking for a lost or dropped ticket and sometimes they strike gold. You will see them in every part of the casino as well as they walk swiftly and look for machines that have a 10-cent balance left on the machine. – I was playing my favorite penny slot and left a 3-cent balance on the machine for the next lucky player to start on a win before pushing the buttons. – Out of the corner of my eye, I see a person converging on the abandoned machine like a hawk on its prey. – Tough way to gather a few pennies, but gamblers can be an odd sort at times.

Dumpster divers are the folks that you’ll see bending into the trash bin looking for a program. They won’t pay for one as it will cut into they’re betting money. I guess if they find one its a score. –  I see them walk along and look for empty tables or seats to grab up a tossed program. – Stoopers have been around since the beginning of time. I watched a man over the years do it so much he began to have a curved body shape. No kidding..


The track has always been the great melting pot of gamblers and fans alike. – You’ll see a little bit of everything if you sit back and watch in between races. – Sometimes the people watching is worth the trip alone. – The track has always been the place where you’ll see the construction worker and businessman rub shoulders and talk racing. I have always liked watching people go through their paces. Some sit in the same seat and others will stand in the same spot. You can see them easily, and over the years you’ll see them come and go. – Nothing like a day in the sun watching thundering horses run for the wire. I’ve always loved racing and I guess I’ll always will. – A day at the races on my off day is just like above. All except the dumpster diver and stooper. I did find a $50 ticket on the ground once but that’s the end of my lucky floor watching. – I used to go as a kid with my dad, and have taken my son on many occasions. I’ve taken bus trips and driven to the races alone. – Yeah, my window is the best seat in the house. You get a birdseye view for people watching and seeing the majestic horses take the track.



The Savior of Racing ?

For years I’ve been hearing tracks talk about what they need to survive. Not just to make a few more bucks, but survive. – I’m hearing of local tracks laying off long-time employees, cutting back to the bare bones and just limping along. But there may be a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not a train coming the other way.

I was reading this morning and it wasn’t about ponies and which races to bet. It was about sports wagering. – The Thoroughbred Daily News; The Delaware Lottery Commission is reporting that $7 million was wagered on sports at the state’s three racetracks from June 5 through June 24 and that the total revenue from the sports wagering was $1,000,247.

That’s not too bad if you ask me. I know it all doesn’t go into the track bank account, but it may be the savior we’ve been looking for. I’me sure the horsemen would have no beef with the new gambling. “After the state and the companies operating the sports books took their share, $352,256 was left over. Delaware Park, which easily out-handled both harness tracks, took in $263,924 in revenue and $62,715 was added to the purse account. There were 50,934 individual wagers made during the 20-day period at Delaware.”

Tracks in the Kentucky / Ohio area are facing some intense competition. – From my front door, there are two Thoroughbred tracks which offer live and simulcast wagering, two harness tracks that offer the same and three full fledged casinos. These places of gambling are all less than one hour from my house. – Instant Racing is all the rage in Southern Kentucky at Kentucky Downs. – The place is gorgeous and has the only undulating European turf course in the nation. In addition, they have offered charitable gaming bingo and were one of the largest sellers of lottery products in the state. – If you’re not familiar with the location it is right on the border of Kentucky and Tennessee.

I don’t think Tennessee even has a lottery. – There is no competition and they are 30 minutes away from Nashville. – They are surrounded by the Lucky Lotto store, Kentucky State Line Bingo and Steve’s Pawn Shop. – There’s not a dig at the gem of Kentucky gambling as they have gone after the brass ring and found them all. They offer a glitzy state-of-the-art facility, great food, entertainment and some of the best racing in the country. – They have a feel of a county fair meeting Las Vegas. Kentucky Downs has done nothing wrong and always striving to grow and give players a one-of-a-kind experience.

Racing in my area doesn’t need watered down video lottery games as a full-fledged casino is 12 miles away. – It’s too late for that boat, it’s on the bottom of the sea. – I think the state of Kentucky can take a real cue from Delaware on sports gambling. I know it’s going to take some time, but that’s the process. We better start now so we can save Kentucky jobs, save racing in the form of bigger purses and allow tracks to have a real form of growing gambling products. – How many people do you know make a bet on the big game? – Or, how many like to bet the local teams playing ball tonight? – Plenty……

The Happy Horseplayer




The summer is in full swing as heat and humidity replaced the snow and cold. – No complaints from this end. – There’s a great deal going on in my world of racing and life. The month of July is special and hopefully, it will hold a lucky streak at the windows as well.

We’ll kick the month off with my birthday on Sunday, July 1st. – I look at birthdays for little kids and old folks. Neither fits, but I’ll celebrate this one with gratitude. – It’s been a rough 8 months, but things are looking good. I’m grateful for health, family and friends. If a winner or two comes my way I’ll accept it with a smile on my face. – This year is special. I’m grateful and content. I have a good son, my family is with me and friends who greet me with open arms. – What more could a man ask for? – If you’re celebrating a birthday this month, enjoy your day and be thankful for all the wonderful moments.

Perry Ouzts has a birthday as well on 7/7/18 – He will be 64 years young. – He’s a long way from Lepanto, Arkansas and 6,942 wins under his belt on his way to 7,000. – Perry still knows how to get a horse to break sharp and grab the lead. He rides like that young kid at Beulah in 1973 when he had his first winner aboard Rablu. – With every win, he slowly jogs his horse back to the winner’s circle enjoying every step. You can see it on his face as it’s another day at the office doing what he does best. – Happy Birthday, “Scoot n Boot.” – Long may you ride!

As New York gets ready to open Saratoga. I have to admit it has become one of my favorite tracks. – They call it “The Graveyard of Favorites,” and can be tough to cash if you’re a chalk player. – It runs in trends and you can have a $3.20 winner then the next lights up the tote board. – I’ve had a lot of luck with the Ortiz brothers, John Velasquez, Manny Franco and Jose Lezcano aboard a couple live longshots. – As we draw closer I’ll keep you up to speed with free selections and hot riders and horses to watch. – The Spaaaaah is coming soon, and get your bankroll ready.

As we enjoy the summer sun on our face. Make this the month you take someone new to the races. – There is nothing like sharing the experience with a youngster or a racing fan who hasn’t been to the track in awhile. Take the time and make your way down to the paddock. Watch them warm up on the track and take a few photos of the day. You’ll look back with fond memories. – I still do every day I walk into the races. – I can still see that young man walking with his dad in the summer sun rooting for claimers at River Downs. There’s not a day I don’t think of the fun we had. He showed me the beauty and pagentry, and especially the one-of-a-kind action that only horse racing provides. – I’ve taken my son a handful of times and he enjoyed his trips. He just didn’t take to it like I did with my dad, but times have changed. – Call that old friend and get together. There’s nothing like racing in the summer. You better hurry because it won’t last forever. - Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies!