In Memory of One of the Good Guys

by Ed Meyer

posted on August 12, 2015 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, Uncategorized, | 1 Comment >>



I was on my way to work and received a call. Normally it’s a text shot from my friend Jeff, but today he wanted to talk. ” Ed, I have some sad news.” – The world of racing is a world within the world. As the many hardworking men and women who toil seven days a week in every kind of element know all too well. As they labor with love in their hearts and sweat on their brow, the horses always come first. You won’t hear many of the blue collar folks going on vacation, or how they slept in late. – They’ll try to beat you during the day, and at night you’ll be a guest at their dinner table. That’s life on the backside. – I’ve been lucky enough to visit many places on God’s green earth, but nothing compares to life in racing. There’s just something about it that gets in your blood and never leaves. If I live to be a hundred, I’ll never meet people who care for their own,  take others in to raise, and always be there to lend a hand. They are truly the blessed angels who walk among us daily.

The call was to inform me about a death of well-known horseman, Danton “Danny” Hays. – “Did you know Dan, Ed ?” – Well, it goes way back to the good old days when I would see him in the morning working out a runner, or assisting a trainer in the shed row. I actually bought my first horse for $500 from this gent. He was a beautiful chestnut, and was as sound as can be. He just didn’t like going to the races much. – Dan eventually took out his training license and worked as the stable foreman for the red-hot Joe Woodard stable. – His earlier time at Tampa Bay Downs where he worked for Mike Manganello led him to meet a young groom who would become his wife Carol for 33-years, according to John Engelhardt’s death notice on-line. – John has always been the go-to-guy when sad news had to be announced, he has a sweet kindness to his words, and has known the person in his 30 plus years working at the track. – He detailed Dan’s loving wife Carol; daughters Dana and Kaycey, and sons John and Caleb. – The entire family has worked and is still active in the racing community. – John’s words were eloquent in brevity, but still conveyed the feelings of heartfelt sorrow. – He’ll be missed by many, but his family will have a void that could never be filled again. His weathered face was tough as leather with a smile that could warm the coldest heart. Dan is in a better place, and we’ll have to struggle to put together the pieces. – Racing is a family, and there are no bounds to who needs what, or how much effort it will take. – After reading the death notice and Facebook threads, I could feel the pain in the words I’ve read. – Words will never do justice, and it got me to thinking about my own life, and how would I want to be remembered. – Funny thing, it sometimes takes the passing of a life to know the true beauty and brevity of our own existence. John Engelhardt, hopefully you’ll be 90 when you write mine, but here is one for you to copy and paste. Here is how I would like to be remembered.


I led one helluva’ life. There is no sense in doing it twice, as once is plenty if you did it right. – I was born to two loving parents, and a brother who would fight the Trojan army at my asking. I grew up in a small town, and if you watch any episode of Andy Griffith you’ll get the idea of my time as a boy. – I enjoyed playing ball, going to school, and hanging out with my friends. But from early on all I ever wanted to do was go to the races. There was a magic that attracted me, and I saved my lunch money everyday in high school to ride out on a Saturday afternoon. Driving out with my Dad was so exciting I could barely hold my breath to get there. – Along the way I had part time jobs at the track in every capacity. I graduated college to be a teacher, but the race track was always in my blood. – I started off in the parking lot, and along the way held positions of: Race Book Manager, Admissions Director, Player Development Manager, Director of Marketing, ADW Coordinator, TV and Radio Show Host, Internet Writer / Blogger / Radio Host, and Track Announcer and Morning Line Odds Maker. – My Grandpa would’ve been so proud that I followed my heart, but some of my family would have liked for me to have chosen another route with more security. I chose to do the things that made me happy, and in this world you are given one shake of the dice. I chose to step up to the table and let them fly. – I’ve been married, had the best friend anyone could ever ask for in my son. He is the reason that getting up in the morning was such a joy. – I’ve had good days and bad days at the windows, and even took a shot at being a professional gambler. It started slow, but then began to pick up at a fever pitch. But this was short lived, and only the closest people who knew me could tell you why I stopped. But that is how the game of life is played at times. – I have no regrets. I loved with all my heart, helped as many as I could along the way, and hopefully raised a young boy into a good man who’ll make a difference. – When I gave out a horse, it was with all of my belief it was as good as gold. There is no honor is cashing a ticket alone. – I guess it’s too late to ask me who I like, so here is my last tip for all. – Do what you love in life, and don’t do anything to impress anyone, as they couldn’t care less. Love the ones who are closest, and take care of any and all along the way. Life has been going on long before I came, and as you read this it continues to roll along. – My last wish is for you to get in the car, and stop for the best burger along the way. Make your way to the track and play some races. That’s what I would do, and since I won’t be here in flesh, I’ll be with you in spirit. So jump in the “bet-mobile” and get moving. – What are ya’ waiting for, it’s almost post time !


The call on this day reminded me of a beautiful $500 dollar horse. You could only imagine what you get for that price, but what Dan didn’t know is for $500 he ignited a fire in me that would never subside. His name was Bet Judge, and ate more peppermints and apples than a heard of horses. He kicked a hole in my Mom’s new barn, and she never said a word. – Dan, thank you for our brief encounter on the road of life. You’ll always be remembered, and on my Christmas tree I have wooden horse ornaments with their names hand painted on the side. This year I’ll hoist a glass to a horseman, husband, father, and the man who ignited a fire that burns brighter every day. Thank you, Danny Hays. May God hold you in his loving embrace, and I’ll see you at the races someday again my friend. – Rest in peace.