Can History Repeat?

It was 45 years ago when five horses lined up at Belmont Park. Only one stood to be the Triple Crown winner and take down the “Test of the Champion.” – It was 2:24 later and a colt who went by the name of “Big Red” not only set a track record, he broke the world record by nearly two seconds. That sunny day in 1973 seems a lifetime ago. Or, could it be another page in history on the exact date 45 years later the 13th Triple Crown winner could be crowned. – I guess we’ll have to wait and watch.

Ron Turcotte said, “the horses behind him looked like little dots getting smaller.” – He never pushed him in the stretch and drew off almost a 1/16th of a mile on the rest of the field. The final margin of victory was 31 lengths. – Chic Anderson couldn’t have said it any better than “he was moving like a tremendous machine.” – As we look back on the old CBS video and the eternal words of “The World’s Greatest Racing Announcer” according to Sports Illustrated; it was a moment that was captured in time forever. – Take a look back and relish the moment one more time before Saturday.

Fast forward 45 years, and we have another shot at the next. – There’s something magical about a Triple Crown winner. No matter where they finish in any another race, they are etched into history. – This Saturday will be 6/9/18. It will be 45 years to the day when the 13th Triple Crown winner could enter the pantheon of racing.

Mike Smith first came into my view when Turfway Park invented itself from the ashes of Latonia Racecourse. He was in town to ride the fall meet and find his next career step. – After watching him ply his trade over the Florence, Kentucky oval it was a glimpse of only what was to come for this young man. – He’s 52 and has the build of a rider 20-years his junior. A win in Saturday’s $1.5 million Grade I Belmont Stakes with the imposing Justify would bring with it a Triple Crown title; only the 13th time it would happen since the first one in 1919.

“I always told myself that one day I was gonna win a Triple Crown,” Smith said by cellphone from California, where he has been riding regularly since 2000. “Now, here I’m in with a chance with a serious contender. If the good Lord is willing, and it’s meant to be, it will happen,” according to the Times Union. – “I’ve waited for this a long time,” Smith said. “I am excited for it. I’m happy. I’m humble. The hard part is the waiting. I’ve got a horse that I would not trade for nobody.” If Smith and Justify do win, the rider will be the oldest to ever sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont. Smith is 52, will turn 53 in August. The oldest Triple Crown-winning jockey is the most recent; Victor Espinoza was 43 when he rode American Pharoah into the history books.

Justify is a perfect 5/5 and didn’t have a race as two-year-old. He broke the “Curse of Apollo” being the first to do so since 1882. – His first race wasn’t until February 18, 2018. Ever since then his strides have taken us on a journey that legends are made. His trainer is the one and only Bob Baffert and his rider is known as the “Money Man.” – When they team up good things happen. The million dollar question is can it happen this Saturday 45 years later to the day from Secretariat? – Waiting is the hardest part. – Just to whet your appetite for things to come, here’s a glimpse of his Kentucky Derby victory. – Will history be made? We’ll just have to wait a few more days.

 

The Next Big One?

 

With two legs of the Triple Crown in the books, the chatter is in full-swing about the next name to be etched in the history books. – Is Justify the horse hailed as the next “big one?” – He broke apart the “Curse of Apollo” and even overcame the video where he looked sore the day after the Derby. – Bob Baffert looks calm and cool. Maybe because he’s been here before, or maybe it’s because he’s just that good. – The talk will continue right up until they load in the starting gate at Belmont

When the Derby trail began he wasn’t even on the scene. Matter of fact he hadn’t even raced. But that didn’t deter the connections as they liked what they saw. – I can remember watching the Santa Anita Derby talking on the phone with my dad. As we yacked, I could see there was something big happening that caught my eye. – ” Hey, Dad. You may want to watch this horse. He has something special.” Maybe it was his stride, his gleam or the way he carried himself. But he caught my eye that day. He needed the points to make the starting gate and running 2nd wasn’t going to cut it. – As he dismantled Bolt D’ Oro, he stamped his ticket that day.

As 52-yr-old Mike Smith looked 21 in the saddle on Derby day, he seemed to communicate with Justify. – He’s had plenty of great runners and this was just the latest. But could it be one of his special runners? – Smith keeps himself in shape and humbles himself to God after each win. – I guess there’s a message for the non-believers in Justify. It’s not luck, it’s all about preparation and thanking a higher power for an equine gift as Justify.

Baffert used to be the clown in years gone by. – I watched him toss the flowers into the crowd and hold the trophy on his head as a hat. – No more. – He’s now one of the best who’s ever led a horse to the track. I guess elder statesman could be used, but he may lay a little “California Cool” on you and show he’s still that young gun. – Bob Baffert is timeless. When he ran into his heart problems, he seemed to recover and enjoy every second. His family, his life, and love of horses. – Where he used to have that cocky wry smile, has now been replaced by a voice that sometimes cracks with emotion when asked the media questions. – That’s the mark of a maturing trainer. If he were a bourbon he’d be aged and smooth.

We are seeing something special. Two men at the top of their game aging gracefully. A colt who has come around just at the right time. – Some would call it the perfect storm, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see until they break from the gate at “Big Sandy.” I’m on board and for the first time in years, it’s not about making the big score. It’s about beauty and pageantry. Watching as a longtime fan as an event that may not come around for quite awhile. – Good luck, Justify. We’ll be rooting from this side of the TV screen.

 

He’s Just That Damn Good

by Ed Meyer

posted on June 1, 2018 in General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>

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Some things are over buffered with big words, fireworks, and smoke. – Who can blame you when you feel so emphatic about anything? – On Memorial Day of this year, I saw something take place I’ve seen a thousand times before and still was amazed. Well, maybe not 1,000 times; 6,927 times would sum it up more precisely.

He had a win on the card and it was a perfect early summer day. Fans in the stands, children with ice cream, and bettors hunkered around the paddock looking to pick up any small note of a winner. It was another day at the races. – It was the 6th race and his mount was the odds-on favorite. – Perry Wayne Ouzts from Lepanto, Arkansas was plying his trade ever since he did for the first time at Beulah Park in 1973 with Rablu. – He had a speedy runner for his go-to-trainer Larry Smith. He looked as tough as a nickel steak.

Ouzts broke sharply but dropped back quickly like his legs had frozen. – The horse’s saddle slipped and he bucked off Ouzts like a bronco. (Maybe one you’ll want to keep on your shortlist). – He came back to the paddock and into the jocks room. Nothing big, just another day at the office. – Riders wait until 12 minutes to post to stand outside waiting to be called to the horses. But there was one little man dressed for next race early. He was just standing by himself like many times before. – When they were called down, his 63-yr-old body ran down the stairs and right to his mount. – He was ready, and it was just a bump in the road the last race.

Perry Wayne Ouzts went wire-to-wire and was “tons the best” according to the Equibase charts. He was. – He came right back for the 8th and final and did the exact same thing. – I watched with eagle eyes and could see he was pissed. Not because he hit the ground, he just hates to lose. – He took the last race in the same fashion and powered home to win by nine. – It was just another day at the office as he notched another “hat-trick” for three wins on the card.

He has 6,927 career wins. – I called him when he reached 6,900 to congratulate him. He said; ” Ed, I’m going to get 7,000 right here this summer. I’m gonna’ get it.” – For a man who speaks rarely, this was War and Peace being recited. – We have 73 days left in the meet and needs 73 wins to get his 7,000. – At first, I doubted he would have enough time, but after watching him hit the ground and pop-up to nail the next two. I’d bet dollars to donuts he’ll get his record. – If you like to root for one of the good guys, you have a jockey you should be watching (and wagering) on every time he hits the track. He’s on a mission, and Father Time doesn’t scare him one little bit. – He’s still that kid from Lepanto. You can see that every time he slowly walks his horse into the winner’s circle. He savors it like a fine wine or a steak at a New York 5-star. He’s humble and quiet and lets his horses do the talking. He won his first race in 73′; we have 73 days left in the meet, and he needs 73 wins to get his next milestone.

 

The Shark Ain’t Coming Round’ Anymore

by Ed Meyer

posted on June 1, 2018 in General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>

His lawn chair that must have been 100 years old, and with notebook in hand, the old man watched the races with laser precision. I’ve been seeing him for over 25 years working at the tracks. Sometimes he would make a trip to Keeneland and set up his shop. We walk past people every day and assume we know a little something about them by a short glance as we hurry through life. – Sometimes there’s a little more to the book than the tattered cover.

I had finished a day of calling the races on Monday and was heading out to my car. I usually stop and shoot the breeze with an old face from time-to-time. The old face is both of ours as I’ve been working at the races for most of my life. – The gent was simply called “The Anvil” as he had a pointed goatee just like his wrestling idol Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart. A steel-worker by trade and horseplayer by love. He always wore his overalls and work boots. His giant arms could have had him in the WWF at the time. – He’s retired now but still wears his overalls and boots like he just came from the job. – “Hey, Anvil. What’s happening?” – “Hey, Ed. Did you hear the “Shark” died this week?” – It didn’t ring a bell at first but hit me like a hammer on the drive home. I just hadn’t heard his name in a while.

Shark was from New York. He was an orphan raised on the tough side of the tracks. – He hated school and did horrible. Except for math. That was his shining glory. The Nuns gave him plenty of pats on the head during his youth. – He went into the service and met his bride upon return. – Little things you pick up along the many years working in the parking lot and eventually inside the track. You get to know some one-of-a-kind people that you don’t read about in a book or find every day.

The Shark was a bookmaker in the 1960’s and 70’s. He was a big man who stayed off the streets and back alleys we’ve all heard about. His fortune was making the numbers dance. His ability to do calculations in his head was simply magic. Something you would’ve seen in a movie. – He raised his kids in the suburbs and his wife passed away early. Shark stayed and raised the four kids with the help of his sister. He never remarried and had his work and the kids. He didn’t need anything else. – His end of the operation was balancing and making the numbers add up. Needless to say, he was pretty good at his trade.

I met him when he gave me $5 bill to park. – ” Hold my spot every day and you’ll get the same.” – He never had to repeat that again as his word was gold. – He would walk in with a lawn chair. He kept to himself and treated the races like a business. It wasn’t for fun; it was for making money. I would find him and the chair on the 3rd floor or in a faraway corner in the clubhouse. Close enough to watch the races and close enough to bet. – I always noticed he had a small black notebook and would make a bet or two every night.

Back in New York his kids all went to college and eventually went their own ways. His sister passed to the other side and he was getting older. He used to come to Kentucky and Ohio during the spring and summer and down to Florida winter. – Over the years you get used to seeing the same faces in the same places until you don’t anymore. – This is where loner characters like “The Anvil” had met him in passing. Loners at the track used to be a common practice, but now you see people come in groups and treat it like a party. – Not the Shark. It was all business. – Over the years the clerks would tell me he made a bet or two and they were large. – I’m talking $500 to place and show and he cashed more than he tossed away. I guess that was his many years of keeping focus and being a man of the numbers.

As he grew older I would see him in an old lawn chair with a bigger notebook. – We would trade brief words of “how ya’ doing, or are ya’ picking any winners?” – Quiet man. He was still there for business. But now it was all he really had. – Anvil said he went to the doc complaining of back pain on a Monday and was gone on Friday. – ” The Shark ain’t coming round anymore, Ed.” – Anvil went about his business of watching and complaining but was a little quieter on this day. – I walked away and thought about the many $5 bills over the years and how I would see him quietly sitting in his chair. I guess he was happy. He raised his kids and took care of his sister and she took care of him. – I can still see him this past Derby day walking in early to set up his camp for the day. His words were few and I only knew brief stories of his life from the many years and from chats with his friends. – Yeah, the Shark ain’t coming round here no more. I’ll miss seeing the chair and the old man watching the races.

The New Game in Town ?

Interior View of Race And Sports Book In Caesars Palace

 

 

When the first words came across the Internet about sports gambling being legalized, they were sweet sounds to my ears. – Then came the first shots of “would it be enough and who would handle the wagering.” – After the smoke cleared we received a new blast of ensuring the games would not be monitored enough to ensure integrity and safety for bettors. – Ok, we all get the message. There has been betting since the Roman soldiers were rolling dice, and I doubt the gaming was monitored. – The only thing I walked away with was how we could get anything done without over-regulating the idea to the point of sending it back to the table for more discussion. – But with all the red-tape and complaining. I have a few ideas that may simplify the process.

1. – The only places that could accept a sports betting wager would be legal race tracks, casinos, and racinos. No bowling alleys or 7-11 stores. Keep the gambling wagers where wagering has been licensed and regulated for quite some time. – This would move the process along. – If the lottery was going to be a major player, then they would be added as well. – Keep the new form of gambling to places that accept and handle gambling. There’s no need to have it at your local donut shop. If you notice the places that would have the new betting have age limits for making a wager, enough cash on hand to handle the wagers and have been reporting to the powers-that-be for quite some time. – Simple and easy to get it off the ground.

2. – Sports gaming would offer a new interactive venue for entertainment. – This would create jobs, taxes and take something from the back rooms and bring it to the light of day. – No more “old man” meeting you in bar squaring up from the previous week. – Keep the jobs and taxes growing, and we’ll create jobs and lessen the burden on the people. The number of illegal bets I keep reading about is $150 billion. This would go quite a way in helping growth.

3 – Create a commission that would regulate sports betting just the lottery, racing and casinos. – If there are infractions to the set rules they would be met with heavy fines and possible suspensions. – I promise they’d want to keep everything above table and be open to an audit.

4. – Would you rather have a bookie in the back room or a Vegas-style bad-ass bar where you could make a wager and enjoy a cocktail while rooting for your team in the big game. – A super sports bar, great food, wagering and watching your favorite team all under one roof. Las Vegas is 1,000 miles away from your house. – I would imagine Nevada isn’t too happy, but they’ve been the only game in town for too long.

5. – Racing could receive more patrons coming in the doors on a daily basis. – If there were 2,000 guests who came in and out on a college football Saturday and 10% of the new traffic made a few horse bets. That’s 200 new players we have the opportunity to market and serve. Maybe even some form of subsidy could help the horse racing purses grow to keep the game alive. -Casinos would have the BIG game to drop in and make a wager. – I haven’t heard of a problem yet.

Sports betting has scared players and folks who oppose expansion. They fear the games would be tainted by wagers. But what would be different? – We already have corner bookies operating illegally, and this would bring the betting into the open. – I think sports betting could actually keep a “big brother” type commision watching over the games and those involved. Nothing has changed except for fear and worry that something could go wrong, and it’s OK to have local bookies holding court with no regulation. – I make some sports wagers and I would gladly wager with a state and federal watched venture than betting in the back room of a pool hall.

Preakness by the Numbers

The 143rd Preakness will take place this Saturday going to post at 6:20 pm ET on NBC. – A field of eight will go to post and Justify was installed the (1-2) morning line favorite. – For some of the very best Triple Crown coverage look no further than The Downey Profile. – “The Commish” puts together some of the very best info to read and if you follow along you’ll find yourself enlightened about the Triple Crown.

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On Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Bob Baffert and D. Wayne Lukas will attempt to establish new marks in the Preakness and the Triple Crown races as a whole.
Baffert, 65, is of course scheduled to start Kentucky Derby winner Justify. Lukas, 82, plans to saddle Bravazo, sixth in the Derby, and Sporting Chance, fourth in the Pat Day Mile on the Derby undercard.

If both Lukas’ horses go to the gate, it will be the 13th time Lukas has had two or more starters in a Preakness. Lukas has started a record 41 horses in 27 runnings of the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. In addition to his six wins, he also has one second and five third-place finishes.

Baffert made his Preakness debut in 1996 with Cavonnier, who was fourth at Pimlico after losing the Derby by a nose to Grindstone. He’s saddled a total of 18 horses in 16 editions of the Preakness and in addition to his six wins, he has one second and one third. His Preakness earnings are a record $4.4 million.

 

Overall Preakness Wins

Hall of Fame trainers both, Baffert or Lukas could tie a longstanding record at Pimlico on Saturday. With six Preakness wins each, they are second on the all-time win list, one behind Robert Wyndham Walden.

A denizen of racing in the 19th century and elected to the Hall of Fame in 1970, Walden – known best by his middle name – completed his run of seven Preakness winners 130 years ago. He won seven of 13 runnings of the Preakness beginning in 1875 and had a record five-straight wins from 1878 through 1882. All five in the streak were owned by sportsman and magnate George Lorillard.

Walden owned and operated Bowling Brook Farm in Middleburg, Md., not far from Baltimore. He also won the Belmont Stakes four times, and his son, also named Robert, won the 1899 Kentucky Derby with Manuel.

 

Overall Triple Crown Record

Baffert’s 2 1/2-length victory with Justified in the Kentucky Derby was his 13th Triple Crown victory, putting him in a tie for second with Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons, whose training career spanned an incredible seven decades from 1894 to 1963. Fitzsimmons won the Preakness four times and is the only trainer to twice sweep the Triple Crown.

But it is Lukas who holds this record with 14 wins in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. Baffert could tie that mark on Saturday.

 

Seeking Fifth Derby-Preakness Double

After a rare absence from Baltimore in 2017, Baffert will try to extend a personal streak of completing the Derby-Preakness double for the fifth time.

Baffert has never lost the Preakness with a Kentucky Derby winner. He opened that run with Silver Charm in 1997 and continued with Real Quiet (1998), War Emblem (2002) and American Pharoah (2015). His other Preakness victories came in 2001 with Point Given, who was fifth in the Kentucky Derby, and 2010 with Lookin At Lucky, who finished sixth in the Derby after drawing the rail.

Lukas won with his first Preakness starter, Codex, in 1980, defeating the Derby-winning filly Genuine Risk in a highly controversial race. Many observers felt that jockey Angel Cordero Jr. was far too aggressive in the stretch and carried Kentucky Derby winner Genuine Risk wide, inhibiting her chances of winning. She finished second by 4 3/4 lengths.

His other winners were Tank’s Prospect (1985); Tabasco Cat (1994); Timber Country (1995); Charismatic (1999); and Oxbow (2013).

Of Lukas’s six Preakness winners, only one, Charismatic, was victorious in the Kentucky Derby. On Saturday, Lukas will try to pull yet another upset while Justify is likely to be the odds-on favorite.

 

Preakness Selections:

Justify looks to fit and even has the same post position as the Derby. At (1-2) he has to be taken seriously after reading Baffert’s numbers from above.

 

#7 – Justify (1-2) – This son of Scat Daddy is a perfect 4/4, and won impressively over a sealed-sloppy track at CD. – He is facing 8 runners versus 20 and breaks from the exact post as in the Derby. Being a lightly raced colt may weight in his favor and rider Mike Smith is going to look to keep trainer Bob Baffert’s record of never losing a Preakness with a Derby winner. He’ll break close to the pace and be a major player in the early fractions. There is plenty of early speed, and I look for him to stay a little wide off the rail keeping out of the mud and pouncing on the far turn before they turn for home.

 

#5 – Good Magic (3-1)- Looks to make his foes disappear in the lane, but he’ll have his work cut out facing the Derby winner two weeks later. This son of Curlin is a perfect 6/6 ITM and done very little wrong since winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile as a two-year-old. Trainer Chad Brown is known for turning the tables, and if Justify makes any small error from the gate break he’ll be right there to move into action. Rider Jose Ortiz is one of the best tactical jockeys in the country and he does excellent work when he teams up with Chad Brown.

 

#2 – Lone Sailor (15-1) – This son of Majestic Warrior is a stone cold closer. He’ll relish the off going if the rain continues as he won his 2nd lifetime start in the slop at Saratoga. Irad Ortiz in the saddle and he’ll come rolling late in the lane. Ortiz is one of the best closing riders with a very strong late kick. Look for him at the top of the lane fanning wide under a full head of steam. He was off slow in the Derby and tried to put together a late run but was blocked around the far turn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Day the Bookies Cried

by Ed Meyer

posted on May 15, 2018 in General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>

If you wanted to bet a sporting event you had to call your “man.” – You know, the guy who gave you some lame spread on the big game. – You had to bet 11 to win 10 and then fight the line. I guess the fun was worth it, but there may be some good news that may not only expand betting but could help other forms of gaming taking place under the same roof. – Yeah, there’s a lot of bookies out there who will need a box of kleenex today. But not to worry, if this all comes to full light they may even find themselves in line to make a wager on real lines with the rest of us.

According to the Bloodhorse.com;

In a decision that was largely anticipated by the horse racing industry—as well as other gaming experts—the U.S. Supreme Court on May 14 found the federal law that had kept sports gambling in check—largely to Nevada—to be unconstitutional. The decision, as reported by a number of news outlets including NBC News and the New York Times, will open the door to allow states to determine if they want to allow sports gambling. The Times reports Americans illegally wager about $150 billion on sports each year.

The horse racing industry was largely expecting Monday’s decision and the impact of expanded legal sports gambling has been a topic at industry meetings this year, like the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association convention and the Association of Racing Commissioners International convention.

Experts believe sports wagering could be a good fit for tracks and online advance-deposit wagering outlets, as it’s more complementary to pari-mutuel wagering than slot machines. On the other hand, it’s a similar game to betting horses and typically features a lower takeout than pari-mutuel wagering.

At the National HBPA meeting, tote company executive Michele Fischer said horse racing needs to make sure sports bettors place their wagers on-site at tracks or through ADW outlets.

“Having sports wagering at our tracks and on our ADWs is very important,” said Fischer, the vice president of sales and business development at Sportech Racing and Digital. “If they’re not in your building, they’re somewhere else.”

Think of going to the track where you’ll be surrounded by a huge sports bar. All of the traditional fare and the walls covered with big screen TV’s. – Clerks would be selling you tickets on the games of your choice and you sit and enjoy a few adult beverages watching college and professional games. – The place which has become a ghost town would come back to life. – Horse Racing taking place and for some, the VLT’s or Casino atmosphere makes your old race track an entertainment center. – No more 4-hour flights to Las Vegas as we could have everything we wanted to watch and wager miles from home. – The only loser I can see from this point are the bookies. They’ll be forced to take wagers from punters who bet today and pay next week. The rest of the bettors will be at the track or casino enjoying the electric atmosphere. – I’ve been waiting for a long time for this, and hopefully, tracks will jump in and make this happen.

Racing may benefit greatly from adding hundreds of people coming into the building every day. – Think of college Saturday’s and the all-day action. Racing couldn’t buy this type of advertisement to attract new players. – I’m optimistic and hope for the best. I am a little worried about the bookies. This may be “Black Monday” for those who enjoyed taking wagers on the cuff. – It’s just been announced and there are some that have had plans for million dollar additions to your old track and transform it into Las Vegas-style gaming. – Gaming, gambling, and betting may have just received a shot in the arm to revive and reinvent itself.

Family Fun !

Racetracks do not have the feel of your grandpa’s place anymore. – Where there was once a smoke-filled grandstand has been replaced by a more friendly environment. If you doubt my words, just pack the kiddies in the car and make the trek. You may be surprised.

Kids at the track back in the day was a pain in the butt for other gamblers. They didn’t come to hear kids asking for ice cream or when were we leaving? – These were the days of old. Now when you walk in the track you may see families enjoying the day at the races.  – Why not? There’s nothing to hide except a day of fun and getting up close to the action.

Tracks are having special family fun days. The track I work offers this Sunday-Funday the last Sunday of the month. It has inflatable rides, free ice cream and popcorn, games and face painting, and a petting zoo. Not too bad for a day at the races if you ask me. – The change is to bring people closer to the action and have a little something for everyone to enjoy. – Some may argue this is a ploy to create kids into a growing class of next-generation gamblers. – Not the case. Tracks are showcasing the facility in a new light. It’s not that smoke-filled venue anymore. Matter of fact most if not all tracks have non-smoking areas where the family is free from smelling like a Dutch Master cigar.

I think it’s a great idea and kids naturally fit in well with animals. – How many places can kids walk up to the rail and feed the out-riding ponies peppermints? Not many. – There are some youngsters where this may be their only opportunity to be close and friendly with these majestic animals. They may get to see fast Thoroughbreds whizzing past going 40 mph, or maybe it’s the jockey who hands the kids a pair or two of his racing goggles. Picture opportunities and a day where mom and dad can bring the kids to something they enjoy. What’s wrong with this? – Nothing. Unless you’re not much into having fun.

I have about 20 or so kids stop up to the booth each year and I let them put the headsets on and sit in the big chair. – They get to make an announcement, and when they hear themselves over the sound system their eyes just light up. Even Mom and Dad have had the same feeling believe it or not when I push the button and they come out loud and clear. – Just having fun. That’s what it’s all about. – Tracks are not the place where the whirl of gamblers jet in and out of betting lines and smoke em’ if they got em’. There’s a kinder feel, and if you’re anywhere near Belterra Park the last Sunday of each month make the trek and enjoy the day. – You can even stop up and make an announcement or two. I keep hats and candy upstairs and kids have a little keepsake to remind them of a fun day out with Mom and Dad.

C’mon out and see for yourself. It’s good clean fun and who knows. Maybe the kids will be asking Mom and Dad when they can go back again. – Best of luck from Winning Ponies! 

The Happy Horseplayer

The Kentucky Derby is in the books and your favorite summer ovals will start racing soon. There is something about the change of seasons and the opening of new ovals that really get my blood pumping. There is nothing like the spring and the opening of Keeneland to get my inner-horse player revved up. The babies coming out to race and hope for good things to come. Summer brings top-notch action as runners start to mature and trainers begin the long process of plotting plans for two-year-olds. Fall has the action of Keeneland and California and New York showcasing runners before they begin a hibernation of sorts and bring the horses back for the Derby preps. Winter has me in gear watching Gulfstream and waiting with baited breath for the preps to begin. – I guess the change of seasons works like a watch or a calendar for horse lovers. Each season brings a new chapter and hope springs eternal.

 

Kentucky Derby

 

I guess there are some fans who are not happy with Mother Nature following last weekend. The rainiest Derby on record seemed to take away some of the luster of the day for this fan. – But, there is always next year and the spring and summer racing seasons are sure to give us plenty to cheer about. Look at it like this. – Rainy days give us muddy tracks and different types of biases to play. The breeding that enjoys a soft wet track really rises to the top when you see the rain glistening on the surface. I guess we can’t have every day filled with sunshine and sometimes you have to make the best of what is given. – It wasn’t my favorite, but we did see the “Apollo Curse” sink into the history books impressively. We celebrated the 40-year anniversary of Steve Cauthen’s Triple Crown and watched as Mike Smith made 52-years-old look like he was still twenty-five. – Yeah, I guess it wasn’t as bad as I remember last Saturday.

 

Small track action

 

I work at Belterra Park and get to watch fans enjoy the races. – It’s not Saratoga or Belmont, Keeneland or Churchill. It won’t be mistaken for Santa Anita or Del Mar. But there is certainly a charm to the small ovals. Some are old and have a deep history of families that have been racing there for decades. Others have a new feel with casinos and racino action to complement horse racing. The horses still run even though it’s not the World Cup or Triple Crown. There’s something about racing on the smaller circuit that has always been enjoyable. – Maybe it was watching a $75,000 stake race on a Saturday, or families gather down by the open air paddock feeding peppermints to the outriding ponies. There wasn’t a $500 cost for a seat or $100 to park in someone’s front yard. It is always free parking and admission, and the smell of hot dogs and popcorn greet you just like the big ovals. – For me, it was when I watched Perry Ouzts notch his 6,900 win the other day. Yep, the little oval has provided acton for most of my life as a fan. – I called down to the jocks room and congratulated Perry and listened intently as he said; “Ed, I’m gonna get 7,000 this summer and I want to do it right here.” – He is the 9th all-time leading rider in history passing Mario Pino and eyeing down Edgar Prado for number eight. – I think he’ll get his wish and what a day it will be. 7,000 is one helluva’ number and to think I watched most of them right here at the little oval.

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Well, another month is in the books and this gambler looks back with gratitude and hope. – I can’t wait for the next race and every day I walk into the track is a new experience. – I’ve never seen a gambler root for a slot machine and whip their side like a rider thundering home. – There’s something about racing that has grabbed my gambler’s soul. Until next month, this is the Happy Horseplayer wishing all your photos be winners.

Enjoy Every Sandwich

by Ed Meyer

posted on April 26, 2018 in General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | 1 Comment >>

 

What’s been on your mind? – Is it the Derby just days away? – How about the big score that eludes us until luck hits home. – Have you been thinking about a trip in the sun or a “bucket list” track you’ll be visiting soon? – Not me. I’ve had something rolling around my noggin for some months and Friday can’t come soon enough.

I’ve been on the bench since November. It was right after Breeders’ Cup and I hit the ground like a ton of bricks. – As we get older sickness creeps up on us like a bad dream. – This time down was not the usual and had many questions that would only be answered by doctors, nurses and many trips to the hospital. – Welcome to getting old was my first thought, and then the worry set in.

The two greatest words in the English language are “In Remission.” – Two words and eleven letters can change your whole outlook on the way you look at life. – For me, it was an awakening of sorts. A time to reexamine your life. – Now, I’m not trying to be over dramatic but it changes the way you see things. – You enjoy the small things, there’s no reason to argue or get heated, the things you worried about are replaced with a gentle kinder you. – As Warren Zevon said; “be sure and enjoy every sandwich.”

For me, I counted my time down by months at first, then weeks, and now I’m into hours. – I walked back into the announcer’s booth and was greeted by friendly faces. The kind of people who make you feel good. After chit-chat and cleaning up, the feeling was great to be back. – The days that used to have any kind of stress will be replaced with sheer child-like enjoyment. You can bet your hat I’ll enjoy every race. Even the ones that aren’t my best. – Someone asked me a question when I was in the hospital. ” Who are the best race callers?” – For me the answer was easy. – “There’s the retired Tom Durkin, Larry Collmus, Pete Aiello, Trevor Denman, Michael Wrona and then there’s the rest of us.” – I have some big plans for this year. – Don’t take yourself too seriously, enjoy what you’re doing, get there early, talk to more people on the way in and out, and enjoy every second.

This year I have known more people battling some sort of illness. I guess that’s the signpost of “you’re officially getting older.” – My son told me I don’t get mad about anything anymore; I don’t get miffed if the dog makes a mess and I speak with a softer tone. – He’s right. It’s not that big of a deal and we’ll just take care of things as they come. – When I walk in on opening day, the smile on my face is pure joy. It’s for any and all who have battled something this year. For my friends and new friends who want to get back to living and having that new sense of normalcy. – It’s gonna’ be a great day and I can’t wait. If you want to tune into the happiest guy who gets to do something he loves. Turn in Belterra Park on Friday. – The first post is 1:20 pm. – Best of luck from your friends at Winning Ponies!