Chasing The Ace

by Ed Meyer

posted on May 21, 2013 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>

The track is like a holy place of worship. Where else in the world can you hear thousands of fans speaking to their maker with wishful tones all at once?  I have seen some of the biggest, best, and most interesting players in the sport. Not because I had a special seat, or had a ticket to peek behind the curtain to see the all-mighty Oz. You just had to be there to catch the action.


Big Daddy = He was known as “Daddy” to his friends, and he always had his gambling entourage in tow at all times. He was the man. He had the bucks, the wheels, and the moxie. His bets could choke a horse, and he didn’t care as long as he had action. They could pay $2.10, or a $1,000 bucks… A win was a win.. The line that went along with him was that “you could never break Daddy.” He had more money than God, and he blew it with gusto everyday. He played tips, paid for tips, and had a band of hucksters who would be his internal cabinet of advisors. I once saw him make two thousand in trifectas in a seven horse race keying a 3-5 shot. When he didn’t hit the board. He turned to his most trusted lackey and asked who he liked in the next race…


The Spive = This guy dressed to the nines everyday. I never would have seen him in shorts or a t-shirt. Always the best dressed, and never lacking for words. He had the confidence of a well-rounded hustler. He didn’t play with the wannabe or the pretenders. He knew just who to speak to, and just what to say.  When he would give his best play of the day. He would root harder, celebrate louder, and hurt more than the player who made the bet. He made his money when you won. He would get coffee for “the man,” and only him. He was like a gentleman’s assistant. Never profane, and his words rang home with eloquence. My favorite saying of his was when someone was talking too much, “save your breath kid, you’ll live five years longer.” He came to the track with little, and raised an entire family on his rat-pack hustling efforts. He was one-of-a-kind, and I don’t think I will ever meet another like him. The world was too small a place for the likes of two gents like him…


The Chief  = This guy would make his rounds every race. “Spare a dollar, buddy?” He would make his rounds, and give out his top pick in the race to everyone he spoke with. It didn’t matter if you gave to him or not. If the horse would win, he would be back right after the race and give you the “I told you so” speech. Many would buy into this man’s rap, and give up that dirty dollar or more. The method to his madness was that he would give out practically every horse in the race, and all he had to do was remember where he put out the tip. I once remember hearing  he was a painter. He was from India, and learned his trade from his pappy. “The Chief” once painted an entire living room in less than two hours. It was only after the happy couple looked closer did they find out that he had painted around all of the furniture in the room. He still holds court, and you can hear his dialect from across the room. ” Gotta’ dollar, buddeeeeee?”


 Scrap man = He made his living finding construction sites and going through dumpsters. He would look for metal and heavy gauge wiring. At three, he would stop at a park and look over his goods before going to the scrap yard to sell. At six, he would be one of the first in the parking lot as he wanted to park his Junker up close to the door. He would be tapped by the 4th race, and the routine would begin again the next morning. I asked him how he did overall at the races once. He looked at me and uttered the eternal words, “I’m just chasing the ace my man. Just chasing the ace…” I see him once in awhile, and he still parks close to the door.


The track is the melting pot of the world. The rich, the famous, outlaws, in-laws, and people you’ll never forget. The education you get by people watching at the track is worth it’s weight in gold. You’ll never see anything more interesting than gamblers. Fickle by nature, and superstitious by action. The same seat, the same place to get your coffee, and doing the same things over and over expecting a different result. I’ve enjoyed myself over the years, and have met some really unique people. If I live to be a hundred, I don’t think I will ever find anything like it.