How Much More?

by Ed Meyer

posted on August 31, 2020 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | Comments Off on How Much More?

Struggle. Maybe not the best of words, but still true. Working in the racing industry has been more fun than the law allows. But with every business, the landscape changes and we are caught re-inventing ourselves to survive. – I can remember when 9 live races and no simulcasting was unbelievable. Then it slowly began to change.

I can remember going with my Dad and his future wife, and doing the double-header race card. – There were 9 live races starting at 1:00 pm, and then an hour or so break, and back for the 7:00 pm card. – By the time the late feature race was complete, you were bushed. The crowds started with a packed house and ended with a ghost town feel. Just the thought of having a magical night like this was hard to believe. But, we needed more.

Horsemen wanted a bigger cut as well as the tracks. – This was the long-awaited birth of simulcast wagering. Having every track possible to wager was like race track heaven. – You could bounce from New York to California, and come back to play the pick-four in Texas. This was more than we ever expected, and figured we had fought back competition into the next century. – But, with all the action, we still needed more.

I remember when we had a staff meeting to announce there would be free parking and free admission. – This was the loss of around 50 employees. But, sometimes we have casualties along the road to change. This was a long-standing money maker at every track, and since 1959 was a boom to the end of day report. – It was a move to court fans and bring out new guests. It worked for a while, but still, we needed more. There was a “panacea” of sorts and it came under the name of VLT’s Video Lottery Terminals. The word lottery ensured we had a legal loophole to install machines under the guidance and watchful eye of the lottery. Pretty simple it seemed, but it took over 20 years, and still no progress. – The “Historical Racing Machines” came into play. Still, another loophole by showing a historical horse race with a slot-like feel. – When I first saw the new machines, I was turned off. The historical race was a small screen the size of a matchbox showing two jumps before the wire. Some horse race. – But, the profitability was incredible for the state. Kentucky Downs was able to make so much; it shared monies with Churchill, Keeneland, Ellis, and eventually Turfway when they demolished the track and have plans for a top-notch gaming facility.

Tracks in Kentucky are running their own facilities. No outside giants bossing them around like racing is a bad joke. – In many other states, the casinos came running in and sought the gaming license of the tracks. They were going to build a powerhouse operation, and together they would become a mega-gaming facility. That was round one. – In later rounds, these mega giants want to lessen racing and eventually send it the way of “Dog Racing” in Florida. Mark my word, there is little to no interest paid to racing. – Once it figures out a way to “decouple” Thoroughbred racing from the casino. They will pull the lever quickly. The only reason they came was promising to keep racing afloat and build for the future. But those plans have changed.

It seems that the gambling world has changed a bit, and we’ve been in need of help for quite some time. – Racing can survive, but the revenue stream will never be that of the mindless slots. Betting on horses takes a little understanding of the game and wagers involved. Slots are rapid-fire candy that lights up your pleasure center in the brain like a strobe light. – How can you compete with having 20 minutes between races when you can play 100 hands or as long as you have money? You can’t.

Here’s a little idea born from a conversation with an industry professional. – Have the first and second walk to the paddock together. The first race in the paddock, and the 2nd right behind in a harness type holding area. When race #2 goes to the paddock, the 3rd race is walking up the stretch. – You can have 2 races every 15 minutes. It’s not rapid-fire slot play, but the action it’s much quicker. – A quick official from the track; there are two gate crews, two valet crews, and a track crew that constantly harrows the track between races.

We need a “QR” code as new players can scan a program and tip sheet on their phones. Make it easy by having a solid tip-sheet to educate on the move. – Gamblers like rapid-fire easy wagering and we should deliver what they want. – Making wagers by phone or a device is a must, and if the players won’t go over to the races, bring the action to them. Allow them to access the live racing signal to watch the races. Make it easier and they’ll eventually get in the game. – Or, we can sit here and hope for the next savior. Something tells me they are getting worse instead of better and it’s only a matter of time before they figure out a way to eliminate racing.

 

 

 

 

Life is on the Wire – The Rest is Just Waiting

by Ed Meyer

posted on August 28, 2020 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | Comments Off on Life is on the Wire – The Rest is Just Waiting

From my early days going to the races with my dad. I always wanted to work in racing. Quoting Papa Wallenda pretty much sums up my travels in Thoroughbred racing.

My first job at the track was really exciting, or that’s what I thought. I had a slick green windbreaker and khaki shorts with my polo tucked in. A cool new cap to begin the year, and all the cars a kid could park. – I had made it. I was working in racing.

For $28 a day, I was there by 5 pm. My boss would drive around in a little Subaru like a general observing his troops while he had a big Husman’s chip can in the front seat. The party container bag was in the back seat for easy consumption and the chip tin held a 12-pack of Budweiser perfectly. My boss had his troops ready to do battle with parking cars in straight lines while he sat at the end of the lot a 1/4 mile away and listened to sports talk and drank beer. Yeah, I had finally broken into the industry.

As the years drifted past, I noticed that racing had some of the most colorful characters in the world. For me, that’s the best part of the game. “Race Track World” was a universe inside the one we know. Believe it or not, it’s one of the most loyal places I have ever worked. People take care of their own, and every job was hard to come by as it was offered out within the inner-sanctum. Even ones at $28 per day parking cars in the cold and rain.

Over the years, I graduated to manage the same parking lot, and eventually worked my way inside. – What I learned for $28 a day was the best training for the race track.

  1. – Treat people with respect
  2. – Be courteous
  3. – Be discreet – Sometimes gamblers don’t want to be known, and others love the attention.
  4.  – If you’re going to drink beer, keep it in the trunk and drink out of a “Big Gulp” cup. – This is camouflage at the highest level.

Over the years, I’ve had one helluva a time. I’m not going to retire rich and famous, but the memories will last a lifetime.

I ventured into the building and became the Race Book Manager for Turfway Park. This was a good intro getting to know the lifeblood of the sport. Keep these people happy and you’ll make loyal returning customers. – I also learned the most important job task. Be available. When you are working, spend your time in plain sight. This gives the players a person to speak with. It may be a complaint, a problem, a request, or just some good talk about the races. People enjoy having a person to access. This job taught me that the folks in the seats keep the lights on and payroll met.

Director of Marketing. This was for River Downs working with my to-be-longtime friend John Engelhardt. This was a position where I learned on-the-job as my interest grew daily. Promotions, events, budgets, radio shows, The Regular Guy Show, and working with energetic college students as interns. This was a job like no other, and I doubt I’ll have another like this one. I learned more, made contacts I have stayed in touch with, and learned what a gem the little track can be.

ADW Coordinator was a dream job. I had the opportunity to go to work for Keenland. It was like a AAA ballplayer being called up by the Yankees. – The job was to get the word out about the betting site, design player events, and handicap in written form and on the radio. – I must admit it didn’t seem like it could work as the landscape was packed with ADW’s. Another fish in the pond wouldn’t make much of a difference, but the opportunity was once in a lifetime. It was 13 months of working with some of the best people in racing. How many times have you been a Yankee?

Belterra Park was a new opportunity. – River Downs had sold the property, and not many of us were retained. My good friend John Engelhardt tossed my name in the ring for track announcer/morning line odds-maker. I handle the Twitter updates for racing and assist in some brainstorming. – It’s a great job and there’s never a day I regret being there when my car pulls into the parking lot. – Small track and even though this is my 6th year it still feels new. I guess that’s when you love something.

In addition to working at various tracks, I have been here with the Winning Ponies family since 2008. – Getting to talk about racing, handicapping, and writing about the colorful characters in the sport has been a labor of love. They have given me a blank slate and been incredible to work with. – We started the Winning Ponies Radio Show which I passed the baton to my friend John Engelhardt, and continue to express myself on a site that is dedicated to making players enjoy the process of playing the races. They really have a quality product and in my travels have met many people who know my name from being a part of their team. – Winning Ponies is your one-stop-shop for all things racing. The Winning Ponies Radio Show, blogs, stories, and free selections. If you’re here already, look around and see for yourself. I did, and I’ve been here since 2008 looking forward to many more years. – (Bets) of luck my friends!

 

Free Selections – Belterra Park- Wed, August 26th

by Ed Meyer

posted on August 23, 2020 in Blogroll, Free Picks and Tips, Handicapping, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | Comments Off on Free Selections – Belterra Park- Wed, August 26th

Sometimes you’ll find some of the best value at the marquee races, and sometimes it’s the small track that cashes tickets. Either way, we’ll take it any way we can get it as long as it builds our bankroll. – I make the morning line for Belterra and have first look over the runners. I like to go back and watch race replays and keep copious notes on runners coming back next start. So, sit back and enjoy some free selections to whet your handicapping whistle.

The weather calls for 91 degrees / sunny with only a 10% chance of rain.

 

Race #1 – #1 – Yes I’m Evil = She’s a horse-for-the course going 9/11 ITM and looking for her third straight win. Trainer Bentley Combs is winning 33% and this may be a single or (free spot) in your early pick-four. She will stalk and pounce.

Race #2 – #1 – Anytimeallthetime = Part of an entry for Eric Reed who is winning 15% at Belterra Park and doing well at Mountaineer as well. – He’s been off 57 days and has some solid works at Eric’s Mercury Training Center. He ships in from the “Mountain” and had a horrible trip hitting the rail. He looks to have the ability to come running and Sonny Leon gets the call.

Race #3 – #8 – Company’s Coming = She is 1/1 at BtP and gets back to the turf where she broke her maiden. Perry Ouzts is having the year of his life on the turf winning at a red-hot 31%. – Look for Ouzts to stalk just off and storm around the final turn.

Race #5 – #1 – Copper Town = Hails from the Wesley Ward barn for the China Horse Club Ltd. – He’s been off for 56 days and sports blistering speed. Cutting back in distance and dropping in class may be a free-spot in multi-race wagers. Joe Ramos in the irons and he wins 18% with early speed runners.

Race #6 – #7 – Frank the Tank = Comes from the Paul McEntee barn and makes big rider change to high percentage Joe Ramos. A closer who gets an extra half furlong to come rolling.

Race #7 – #8 – Siete Leguas = Comes into the race 4/4 ITM over the track for trainer Cipriano Contreras winning 24%. – He exits off a strong 7 length win and should stalk just off the leader.

Free Selections – Belterra Park – Tuesday, August 25

by Ed Meyer

posted on August 23, 2020 in Blogroll, Free Picks and Tips, Handicapping, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | Comments Off on Free Selections – Belterra Park – Tuesday, August 25

Sometimes you’ll find some of the best value at the marquee races, and sometimes it’s the small track that cashes tickets. Either way, we’ll take it any way we can get it as long as it builds our bankroll. – I make the morning line for Belterra and have first look over the runners. I like to go back and watch race replays and keep copious notes on runners coming back next start. So, sit back and enjoy some free selections to whet your handicapping whistle.

The weather in the summer can be dicey at best, but the forecast calls for highs in the low 90’s and a 20% chance of rain. – I’m handicapping for a fast track.

 

At Belterra

 

Race #1 – #3 – Fat Account =  John McKee in the saddle for Mark Thomas and they have a 25% win clip as a team. This closer is going to need some pace and it looks like there is ample speed. McKee wins 15% with closers and the barn scores with 18% of maiden claimers. His numbers are getting better the past three races and today looks like graduation day.

Race #2 – #8 – Fashion Frame = 3rd start off the layoff and ships in from Ellis Park 2nd off the claim. She should be right on the pace and gets the added bonus of the “bug rider” Crytal Conning getting a 5 lb break. She’ll be right off the pace and pounce as Conning wins 20% with route runners.

Race #3 – #5 – Rollin on Tequilla = Fresh off the claim for owner Mark Yagour and trainer James Chapman. The trainer wins at a staggering 40% with new runners to his barn and exiting off a win yields a 55% win clip. He is (5-1) with Sonny Leon in the saddle who scores with 13% with early runners. The owner and trainer have been on a claiming spree and first time back for Chapman wins at a 20% clip for Mark Yagour.

Race #4 – #4 – You’re My Boy Blue = Trainer Larry Smith wins with 23% mdn sp wt runners and the rider switch from Ouzts to Mojica may fit. Both have the same agent and can mix and match riders. He’ll be a half way decent price, and the public is going to pass just on his first race. – Smith wins 33% on the 2nd time out angle and this son of Birdrun is eligible to improve today.

Race #5 – #6 – Market Success = Fresh off the claim for Chapman and Yagour off a two win at Cleveland. – He can get motoring and when she faces Ohio company good things happen. She is (8-5) and may go up as players may doubt the two-turn back to a sprint. I like the owner / trainer combo. You’ll see them at Mountaineer, Indy Grand, Prarie Meadows, and Del Mar. Very dangerous team going to post.

Race #6 – #3 – Tizaboutime = Son of Tiznow for James Chapman who is winning 28% at the meet. – His last effort was first start of 2020 and it was a sloppy-sealed track. Goes from a sprint to a route gets them in the winner’s circle 36%. He is 7/11 ITM over the track and rider and trainer score 25% as a team.

 

 

Looking Back Over the Past Few Months

by Ed Meyer

posted on August 16, 2020 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, Kentucky Derby, WinningPonies.com | Comments Off on Looking Back Over the Past Few Months

It was back in March when the announcements began. – Life as we knew it was changing drastically. It seemed as if our worst nightmares were coming true and uncertainty the rule of the day. – Families were being asked to keep distance, and the economy was short of collapse. All seemed bleak and there were more questions than answers. A great deal has happened in the past five months.

I was driving to the store. Just like the masses we were all looking for something to sustain our household. – I was passing by the track and saw a lone trainer with his horse. He was leading him around and stopping ever-so-brief for a sip of water. I pulled over and watched from a distance. This simple morning act between horse and man caught my eye. – It would have been taking place in the rain, snow, or sunny day. Watching this man tend to his daily routine gave me a sense of normalcy. No matter what, his horse had to be fed and exercised as that’s what he does. His horse didn’t know of any dire news reports and it was another day at the office. This early morning routine gave me a new sense of direction. Life would go on.

I heard many tracks were closing like most businesses, and since we’re a non-essential operation to the nation. Tracks were putting dates on hold and some canceling altogether. – The horses were fed even if the horsemen ate later, if at all. That’s the job. One of love and obligation, and never a doubt of who comes first. Every racing fan needs to spend a morning watching the hard-working men and women rise with the sun and tend to the horses. There is something magical about this simple task, and one that would make you proud of the people involved.

As the days went by, all sports were put on hold. No playing due to the danger of spreading the virus. – Horse racing was being conducted at a handful of small tracks without fans in the grandstand. – The handle was at an all-time high and people were waiting with bated breath to play tracks they normally didn’t. Most hadn’t heard of the connections, and some riders made the trek to sustain themselves. – Racing was the only game in town and fans couldn’t wait to play Will Rogers Downs and Fonner Park. Eventually Gulfstream, Tampa Bay, and Oaklawn were racing. While many sports were guessing if they would play, Thoroughbred racing was in swing.

Since then, we’ve gradually allowed a limited amount of fans back and life is feeling a little bit better having the lifeblood of the game in the stands. – Bad news about the Colonial meet being canceled, but safety first. – With that being said I’ve heard the same question that is circulating in the racing industry. “Should Churchill Downs go without fans, or are they doing the right thing?” This has been picking up speed in every conversation, and the results are about 50/50.

I love the Derby; love Churchill Downs and the incredible race card. – But, when I’m asked by colleagues. I have the same answer. – ” There are just too many people, and no matter how much you cut back attendance, it has a dangerous possibility.” – Think about it. What happens if the Churchill Downs has a huge outbreak from this day? Will there be a Breeders’ Cup? Will the rest of the Kentucky circuit close until next spring? – Too much uncertainty. Not my place to question Churchill plans, but it seems a big gamble. When the Indy 500 is going to race without fans. That pretty much made my mind up. – I would love to see the races, the pageantry, and the one-of-a-kind things that only the Derby can provide. Once again, not my decision to make, and I lean to the conservative. I just want to see racing continue, and gathering that many folks can be a tough call. – I sure hope it goes without a hitch, as this year of uncertainty has a solid Derby winner.

Free Selections – Belterra Park – Tuesday / 8-11-20

by Ed Meyer

posted on August 11, 2020 in Blogroll, Free Picks and Tips, Handicapping, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | Comments Off on Free Selections – Belterra Park – Tuesday / 8-11-20

Many smaller tracks have designated racing during the early part of the week. – Nothing like having a constant flow of action to keep your inner-gambler happy. – Here are some free selections for the Belterra card to get your week started off right.

 

Belterra Park

 

Race #1 – Mdn Sp Wt – 6f – 12:35 pm

#3 Angels Sassy = 2nd start for the Susan Anderson barn and they score at a 13% win clip. – She tried to break her maiden in the $75,000 Tah Dah stakes against Alexandria who won the Miss Ohio at TDN this past Saturday. – Look for Ouzts to break alert and stay right on the pace.

 

Race #2 – Alw 2L – 5f on the turf – 1:04 pm

#6 – Factor Around = She won by 8 last out and is a versatile runner for Jordan Blair who can run on dirt or turf. – Look for a perfect stalking trip by John McKee.

 

Race #3 – Mdn Sp Wt – 6f – 1:33 pm

#8 – A Lot of Spunk = 2nd trip over the track, and 2nd time Lasix where trainer Tom Drury wins 30%. – His go-to rider McKee in the saddle and look for a mid-pack stalking trip.

 

Race #5 – Mdn Claiming – 6f – 2:31 pm

#6 – Grace D’ Art = 3rd off the layoff. and has been showing good early speed. – Rafael Mojica is the pilot winning 19% at the meet.

 

Race #6 – Claiming – 5f on the turf – 3:00 pm

#5 – Gabe’s Flag = 2nd start of the year and jumps back into Ohio company today. – Perry Ouzts for Larry Smith and I’m looking for a big blast of speed as they spring the gate latch. He is 5/7 ITM over the track and can be dangerous on the front on the drop-down in class.

 

Free Selections – Belterra Park – Wednesday 8/12/20

by Ed Meyer

posted on August 11, 2020 in Blogroll, Free Picks and Tips, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | Comments Off on Free Selections – Belterra Park – Wednesday 8/12/20

Who said there’s no free lunch? – Here’s a little appetizer to whet your appetite on “Hump Day” for racing action. – Free selections, and mid-week action. What more could you ask for? – Best of luck!

 

Race#1 – Mdn Claiming – 1 mile 70 yards – 12:35 pm

#1 – Jersey Prince = ships in from EP and takes a big drop-in class for Aaron West. Goes from turf to dirt and West wins 25% with his shippers. Draws the golden rail spot.

 

Race #2 – Alw 2L – 1 1/16 on the turf – 1:04 pm

#3 – Cernan = was super impressive winning his first on the turf last out. – This son of Malibu Moon has plenty of speed and will be tough to deal with on either surface.

 

Race #5 – Starter Alw $5,000 – 1 mile 70 yards – 2:31 pm

#4 – Yes I’m Evil = exits off an impressive win 49 days ago and is 8/10 ITM at BtP. – A little rest and four solid works may have her ready to roll.

 

Race #6 – Claiming $15,000 – 1 mile on the turf – 3:00 pm

#1 – Strut the Ring = The rail is winning at 19% and the barn wins 30% making a 3rd off the layoff move. He was a beaten favorite last out and that is a strong playback angle.

 

Race #8 – Mdn Sp Wt – 6f – 3:58 pm

#4 – Buckeye Magic = hails from the barn of Tom Drury who wins at 31% at the meet. – Drury wins with 16% of his 1st-time starters.

The Happy Horseplayer – August

by Ed Meyer

posted on August 11, 2020 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | Comments Off on The Happy Horseplayer – August

It’s your old friend the HH, and I’m enjoying the summer. How about you? – I know it’s upside down and doesn’t make much sense. But, there’s plenty to enjoy. About now we’d start heading toward Labor Day as the end of summer. Now, it will be Derby Day weekend. Crazy, huh? – But, if we sit back and just take it in. There’s plenty to enjoy. Trust me, you’ll find yourself at the edge of your seat rooting home your runner as they turn into the stretch.

 

Derby dreams – One step closer to reality

Everyone watches and enjoys. It’s rare to know someone in the game who has a starter in the gate in Louisville. Until now. – Louisville native Thomas Drury Jr. won his first race in 1991. A protege’ of Frankie Brothers spent his time building a reputation. One of hard work and solid horsemanship. Yeah, just like they did in the old school; but Tommy is a breath of fresh air for the sport. – Active on social media and loves a good joke (especially when he’s on the receiving end). Good guy all around and respected everywhere he goes. That’s what makes him special. He has that spark in his step and savors every win like it’s the big one.

I first saw him bringing horses to River Downs on occasion. They kept coming and got better with every start. – His efforts started paying off as he won his first stakes win with Model’s Memo in 2008. – When Bruce Lunsford transferred Art Collector to his care. This is where the magical journey begins.

Normally, he would bring horses back from an effort, freshen them up, then head back to another trainer. But, Lunsford left a few in his barn. COVID-19 shuffled the racing world quite a bit and as in life. We adjust to the changes good and bad and look forward with optimism. – Tommy Drury is just what Art Collector needed when Lunsford entrusted him to Team Drury. I’m not sure where he would have been headed, but with a little luck and lot of hard work. The first Saturday in September may be special for his entire team.

It seems as if the Bernardini colt just woke up on November 30, 2019. He’s rolled off four straight wins, and now make it five with an impressive win in the Ellis Park Derby. – It looks like the starting gate in Louisville is in his future.

Tom used to shoot me messages when I wasn’t feeling well and always made me feel good. – After each win, I send him personal messages congratulating one of the good guys of racing. – He likes my enthusiastic race calls, where I try and come up with something clever to capture another Drury win. – He has a versatile colt in his care, and one helluva shot to wear the roses. – I would love to see his smiling face with sunglasses hiding back the excitement. – Best of luck, Tommy. You getting a shot at the Derby is like all of us going to the big dance. All of your fans will be rooting like crazy, and I’m sure many will back up their love with a few bucks. – See you in the winner’s circle!

 

Enjoy the ride

As we bitch and moan about the new schedule of events this year we should take a moment. – A moment to be grateful that racing is still being conducted and mostly in front of fans. A moment to enjoy the game we love. A moment to appreciate the sacrifices of the horsemen that put on the show.

As they walk the stretch you’ll see a mask on every groom. – As you enter the paddock all personnel who oversee the regulations have one on all day. – The riders have one on inside the jocks room and come out to meet their mounts with colorful masks protecting themselves and each other. – The gate crew, ambulance staff, and everyone working at the track sports a mask.

We offer free masks to anyone who enters, and a multitude of announcements to keep us all safe. Program ads, signage, and constant disinfecting throughout the day to keep guests and employees safe. – The sport is still going on. – We still have plenty to tend behind the scenes. But, we’re going to get there. Keeping the game safe for all involved and retaining a feeling of normalcy. That’s the goal. – Racing is one of the only sports where fans can come out and enjoy. Be grateful for the efforts of many to make the game safer for all.

Until next month, this is your old friend The Happy Horseplayer wishing you the best of luck, and safety for you and yours during these uncertain times. – Just follow the rules, keep you and others safe, and we’ll be talking Derby before you know it!

 

 

 

Racing in the Time of COVID-19

by Ed Meyer

posted on August 2, 2020 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | Comments Off on Racing in the Time of COVID-19

Long ago, my son asked me a question. “How do you learn, Daddy?” – For a 5-year-old that was a good one. – Would I go into a litany of logical reasons for how the learning process works? Or, about how life lessons play for future learning. – After further review, I picked up my little boy and spoke from the heart. “Son, sometimes we learn by what we have, and sometimes for what we do without.” He looked with confused eyes and went back to playing. That was good enough for now. I knew he’d learn more in time, and appreciate the wonderful things he would be blessed with in life, and ultimately the things he was forced to do without.

For me, 2020 has been a year of learning. I try and learn something from everything, even if it’s not what to do. Just as important, but not as much fun. – This year has been tough, and ultimately tougher on so many others. I still count myself and my family lucky. We’re all still here and have so far dodged the plague of the century. I’d call that pretty lucky as many more have not.  But all-in-all, I’ve learned some things this year. Sit back and take a look and see if any rings home for you.

 

1 – Don’t take anything for granted

Life was going on, and I was working at Turfway Park this March. We had been hearing about the virus in other parts of the world and thought our country was bulletproof to the illness. After all, we are the most powerful nation in the world. – As we watched the maps showing the plague we could see it coming closer and still held steadfast to our beliefs. As numbers grew there was nothing we could do but watch and worry as panic set in. – When the remainder of the racing season had been canceled, the reality of not only the pandemic, but the loss of employment faced us all. I was all but sure it would be a short-lived problem and we would move forward. I wasn’t alone in these thoughts.

As it became more and more evident we were in real trouble. The sport of racing was an afterthought. No more worry about running the remainder of the meet, but survival was the topic on everyone’s mind.

If you’ve ever doubted the caring nature of horsemen, please take a deep breath. They fed, cared, and stood by the horses. Many would eat only after the horses were fed and long hours were the daily routine. A couple of tracks were running and that gave us all a little glimpse of normal. – As days turned to weeks other tracks opened giving an opportunity to many. I didn’t live through the 1918 Spanish Flu or the Great Depression, but this was as close as my generation has come.

We took it for granted that all would be well and life would resume. – Since that time, I have seen a great change in the attitude for racing. The people who compete tenaciously on the track; were helping each other survive and live for better days. I’ve always said the backside is a ‘world within the world,’ and no time more than now.

 

2. – Little by little change would come

Each passing day was media coverage and talk about getting back to racing. The horses needed it as well as the horsemen. – As tracks began to open a little at a time, hope was taking the place of fear. It was still a long road as many meets were being canceled or postponed.

With open dialogue and extensive planning, many tracks were able to open without fans. – Wagering is a 95% off-track venture, and maybe 5% counted from on-track. Racing without fans didn’t seem a bad idea as laid-off workers were receiving needed unemployment to survive, and the horsemen were able to save their sport. There was a glimmer of light where there once was darkness.

Racing was the only sport taking place as professional, college, and high school sports had been canceled due to COVID. It was good to be racing and hope was on the horizon.

 

3. – The only game in town

In your grandpa’s time, the big three sports were baseball, horse racing, and boxing. – Baseball has tried to get back off the ground with a shorter season but is facing closure due to players contracting the illness as teams are forced to travel. Boxing and MMA are fought on a limited basis and without fans. You won’t be seeing any of the marquee events fighting for the belts anytime soon. There are limited sports from time-to-time – But, Thoroughbred racing is up and running. Some areas have been forced to race without fans, and others have been racing as usual with many safeguards in place.

When you see the hot-walkers bring the horses up the stretch, they will all be wearing masks. The personnel in the paddock all have facial gear in place the entire day. Jockeys have masks when leaving the room, and wear them in the rider’s quarters all day long. There is constant disinfecting and cleaning in sensitive high-traffic areas, and the fans are given a mask to wear at the gate if they don’t have one. Signage, program ads, and constant announcements of the Governor’s mandates for patronage at the races are repeated throughout the day. – Security walks the premises asking guests to kindly social distance as the races take place daily. – The entire property is closed for hours in the middle of the night for a “deep cleaning” of the entire property.

One of the ‘big three’ sports has declined in popularity over the years. Losing out to quick and rapid-fire gaming. But, that has changed for the country during these uncertain times. Thoroughbred racing is taking place when other sports have been sidelined. You can enjoy the sport or watch and wager on the racing action. –  Could a troublesome time for the country be a reprieve for the sport?  I doubt we’ll ever see that never-ending buffet for quite some time; if ever again. But, racing is moving forward. During this time I have watched the industry pull closer together at a socially safe distance. I hope we look back on this time as a moment that we endured and supported each other. We’re resilient people and we’ll be back. – What are ya’ waiting for? It’s almost post time!

Live Sporting Action to be Enjoyed!

by Ed Meyer

posted on August 2, 2020 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, News, WinningPonies.com | Comments Off on Live Sporting Action to be Enjoyed!

It’s that time of year when the “Boys of Summer” take the diamonds. We start talking about our favorite football teams gearing up for fall-time fun. Even high school sports are on the shortlist of games not being played. So, what’s a sports fan to do? How do we get our fix of action, excitement, and thrills galore? – I’ve got an idea. Let’s go to the races!

Once upon a time, it was baseball, horse racing, and boxing. These were the “big three” that were attended in mass and followed religiously on radio and TV. – Baseball is being canceled left and right due to COVID, and boxing matches are being shown in replays. So, what’s a fan to do? – I’ve got it! Let’s go to the races!

When you arrive at the races you’ll see hotwalkers coming up the track all decked out in masks. The paddock personnel is all protected by facial gear, and when the riders come out they all must have a mask when leaving the jocks room. When they’re in the room, they and everyone associated have total mask protection. Hand washing is at a premium, and the room is full of dedicated staff to disinfect and clean as people work. So far, so good.

Racing is alive and well. We began as a precaution to race without fans, and only after careful consideration have the states allowed fans to return. – Now, there are some states where fans can’t attend due to COVID numbers, but they’re getting there. – The only game in town where total precautions have become the norm is alive and well. If you doubt the sport, just grab your program and head out to the races. You’ll see dedicated men and women putting on the show for one of the greatest sports around.

Fans are back, and we’ve taken every precaution to keep the sport safe. When you hear the Kentucky Derby getting ramped up to have fans on-track, you should reconsider coming out to see the live racing action. Your grandpa did long ago, and the game continues today.

You’re greeted at the door offering you a mask if you left yours at home. There is a bevy of announcements reminding guests to wear masks and properly social distance. – We want you to enjoy the sport, and keep everyone around you safe. That’s horse racing at it’s best.

When racing was considered one of the “big three” of sporting action still holds true today.  But, now it’s one of the only sports being conducted safely. – Riders can’t jump from state-to-state picking up mounts, and this has seemed to slow the spread greatly. In Ohio, you can only ride at one of two tracks to be eligible to climb into the saddle for safety. – If you do decide to come across the nation, you have to complete quarantine and have a negative test to return. – Sounding good yet?

Thoroughbred racing has been around for centuries, and we’ve encountered many obstacles only to come back stronger. States communicate extensively, and if there’s a problem, they pull the plug on the sport until the game can be conducted safely for guests and participants alike.

For the folks who miss a day at the ballpark, we feel your pain. If you were looking forward to football season kicking off we stand optimistically. But, in the meantime. Make a trip back to one of the original “big three” sports from long ago. – You’ll see extensive safety measures, program ads reminding you to be safe, and a bevy of announcements to make your day a winner. – Go ahead, come on out and enjoy a day with the fans (at proper social distancing of course). The horses are ready, the riders are climbing into the saddle, and the only thing missing is you! – We’ll see you at the races for some one-of-a-kind heart-pounding action. What are ya’ waiting for? It’s almost post time.