The Happy Horseplayer

When you think of what makes us happy about being a fan of the sport can you think of any special notes? For me, it has always been simple. I love to look over the Twin Spires and see the roses in bloom on that first Saturday in May, start reading three weeks out about potential Breeders’ Cup runners, and driving down I-75 to Lexington, Kentucky and see the most beautiful spot in the world for racing.

Churchill has the element of history that permeates every crack of the famed race track. The crowd, the fashion of the day, and especially the one chance at etching your name into the history books. Sounds romantic for fans of all walks. I have had the pleasure of doing radio live from the Derby, going with my dad, and hanging with my girl as we enjoy a cool beverage on a spring afternoon. There is hardly anything like this experience. If you haven’t made the trek, put it on your bucket list.

The Breeders’ Cup is about wagering. This is not a day where the bulk of the crowd hasn’t heard the names of Jerry Bailey, Chris McCarron, Bill Shoemaker, Zenyatta, Curlin, Personal Ensign, and Alysheba. There are plenty of “newbies,” and we are glad to have them. Racing is a community within a community. But, mark my word. This day is for the gambler. Whether it be $2 to place, or a $1,000 Pick-Six. The excitement of seeing the best in the world is incredible.

As I drive from Northern Kentucky down the beautiful foliage laden expressway to Lexington, there is a sense of calm that comes over you. The worries of the world are put on hold, and we have a day at the races. Yep, just like my grandpa did so many times. He would knock off early as a plumber, and head down for eight live races with no exotics. He once told me he sat down against an old oak, and started reading his paper. Well, he fell asleep and missed his horse he came to play. He awoke to see his 19-1 shot drawing away by ten lengths, and after putting on his glasses he saw his odds were actually 1-9. I made my first trek with my dad when I was 15-years-old, and we hammered away like two friends. I sure miss those times, but as the tradition continues, so do the memories.

Today, I am ready to enjoy the sun and racing. It will be 75 beautiful degrees, and the leaves are in full-bloom. I can’t wait to see the grand-dame of the Bluegrass state, and all that she has to offer. When you pull into the track, you will find that peace surrounding you. Leave your worries in the car, and it is time to enjoy a day at the races. Better hurry, the car is leaving now and we don’t want to miss the first race. Wish me luck!