The Best Seat in the House

by Ed Meyer

posted on September 24, 2015 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>

Life gives us front row seats for every season, emotion, and reaction. Sports as a whole is way for us to shed the dividers, put away the blinders and come together as one. Racing is my sport of choice. Oh, I love football and the crisp air of autumn. But it doesn’t compare to the sport of kings. – Is there anything better than a cold beer and a dog covered in mustard and onions watching the baseball game ? – It’s all good,  but it won’t hold a candle to the magic I’ve witnessed. – Think back just a few short months ago to Belmont Park, when American Pharaoh stormed home to a packed house as the jubilant fans held every type of media device, phone, iPad, and recorder to capture the splendor if only for a moment. We didn’t want to forget, and we wanted to share this incredible event with the world. – I can’t say I was there, but I’ve had a front row seat for most of my life watching the race unfold.

They’re at the post = Being a track announcer is the most incredible job at the track. If you’ve have a bad word or a criticizing moment where you’d love to give them a piece of your mind. Make the trek, and go up and see them. Outside of the select marquee callers, I’m sure most would hold the door and welcome you in. They would most probably let you call a race, and when your covered in sweat and it didn’t work out as well as you expected, they would grab you and give you a hug and tell you it’s alright. We all get the jitters and drop the ball sometimes. – You just pick it up next time and do better. That’s it. No magic, no special sauce, and just be yourself.

When you get to the top of your game, or start heading in the right direction, don’t forget who helped you along the way. Offer up good advice to any and all who seek the road, and don’t start posting your stuff for the world to see and applaud your efforts. If anyone wants to come up, let them share the best seat in the house. It’s better to share the ride than take it all on your own. I’m still new to the game even though it’s been two years now. I can see improvement, but there is still so much to learn. – It’s not about the person behind the microphone, it’s all about the four-legged stars and the best athletes in the land.

Don’t get down on yourself. Listen to others, but be yourself. Have a mentor who has known the ropes by watching or being one of the best. I have to say this job surprises me. For the folks you watched along the way, you would have sworn they would have given a call with a few helpful hints or professional advice. Just don’t hold your breath for that call. – People will pick out a few and hope they are the next behind them. Just don’t get down on yourself. It doesn’t matter what you make, where you’re at, the sight lines, the accommodations, or the lack of fancy equipment. The fans will hear your love of the game in your voice, and just be yourself. For the sake of just trying to help anyone get a foothold. Here are a couple of things I’ve learned. – Don’t be too loud. I fight this every race as the enthusiasm jumps right out of your mouth at times. Just be clear, and as accurate as possible. – Stay away from cute clownery words. They make you laugh from time to time, but if you add too much salt to your dish, it overwhelms the final outcome. – Be open to any and all criticism. Even if you don’t like it, you’ll make sure they won’t complain as much by trying harder every time. – When you pull into the track, and take the elevator ride to the top. Thank the Wagering Gods for the best job in the world. You’re not busting rocks, or carrying drywall all day. You’re at the races with the best seat in the house. – Enjoy the ride !


The Two John’s = I have two good pals at the track. One loves to bet and have a beer or two, and the other likes to focus on work. Both love the game to the core, and have made it their life’s calling. One gives advice daily about my efforts, and the other holds his comments a little closer to the vest and says very little. But when he does, it holds golden nuggets to apply daily to become better. – Both guys have helped me along the way, and at the end of the day it is good to pop a beer and just talk about the races. I’ve handicapped on-air, in radio format, and in written word with both. They both offer up the best advice, and both have their own way of making things happen. – Thank you for the two best friends at the track; John Englehardt, and John McDulin. – Two Irishmen who share their love of the game with a gusto that is rare and harkens back to the old days. – Thanks, guys !

What did you just say ? = I don’t care what level you’re at, you’ll drop the ball from time to time. I would love to tell you all of mine, but there is just not enough time in this life. So here are a few dandy’s that I can shoot from the hip. – First, I sit in the next office separated by a thin glass window. You can hear the other person breathe it’s so close. I met a new friend with Jeff Riedel who takes entries for the races in the morning, and is a placing judge in the afternoon. Good guy, and he enjoys good conversation to make the day go by. – He is the one who will tell me before the race if there is a tricky horse name, trainer, or owner name. I’m sure glad to have him on the other side of the glass, but he knows all of my little foibles. He loves a good laugh, and doesn’t take it out of the inner-sanctum. Just between two guys and he is man enough not to bust me up in public, I hope. – But without further adieu, here are a few off the top of my head that make me want to get better everyday. – Thanks for all of your help and guidance, Jeff !

1. – This just happened the other day. There is a stellar young lady jock at the track, and she was riding like the wind and drawing off at will. Now, you’ll have to pull up your big-boy / girl pants and take this as nothing more than fun. – ” She cuts the corner and straightens away for the stretch drive. -Julie Burke takes a peak under her legs, and see nobody coming.” – Now, this is exactly what was happening, but the laughter from the next booth told me there was something in the call that may make it to You Tube. I went home that night and listened to the race. Oh my, I’m sorry Julie. – I’ll never say anything like that ever again. – The very next day she did the same thing, and you can bet dollars to donuts I said she looked over her shoulder !

2. – Grace’s Devil. – The name is probably for a relative, some family breeding names combined, or just a neat name for a filly. – As an open minded man not given to bias or favoritism. If you say the name five times really fast, you may hear a new name pop-up. – As the race was getting heated down the lane with three across the track, and the horses names were starting to meld together. -It was at that time the laughter at my expense began once again. – ” Ed, do you know what you just said ? – No, what ? – You just said Racist Devil gets up in the shadow of the wire.” – My face turned red, and as the laughter subsided. I realized this was a kind way of letting me know others are listening. – Thank you, Jeff and Maquitta for helping me everyday.

3. – Have an open door policy = Most would think this is to see you. – Nope, not at all. I like to share the ride I enjoy. It is kind of like having the best pizza in the world and not sharing a slice with those around you. – When office folks, team members, or a patron comes up. I love to let them see the best seat in the house. – I’ve had Jeff’s daughter call the horses onto the track; when the track was River Downs, we had guest callers come up a time or two per week. – For the callers who snub their nose at this practice, I bet they forgot how silly they sounded first time up. Share the ride, it make things much more interesting.

For the record = I’m not Tom Durkin, and I bet he is glad he’s not me ! – I have some friends or those I call friends, who forgot where they came from. As you’ve attended fine universities and made friends with the best in the game. I have to say I’m envious of such an honor, but I was busy doing other things. – If you want to know the best place to park. That’s easy, as I ran parking. – If you really think you, or a want-to-be cohort knows all about the real desires of the players. I was a player development manager who made trips to Las Vegas learning how to best serve the needs of gamblers. If you would like to do a radio show, you’ll probably be great. As I had three different radio shows with three different co-hosts, an Internet Radio Show from home, and I would be glad to go on with you talking about the game we love. – I’ve printed programs, created big parties for our best players, and conducted handicapping seminars where long time bookies would come up at the end and told me they learned something new. I set up trips to gambling destinations for players, and made my self available to shovel snow for cars and patrons to travel safely into the track. I’ve had the opportunity to meet incredible racing fans who are now friends, met the biggest and best trainers who took their time to be on a local radio show for big race days. I’ve had the incredible opportunity to have worked for some of the biggest leaders in racing, and picked up trash after the races as our cleaning staff was down with the flu. There is not a call I won’t return, and I have won and played in some of the biggest handicapping contests. I won’t say no to any opportunity, and there is no job I wouldn’t try even if it means failing. – I understand why you wouldn’t call an old friend. I’m not as polished, and my words may not flow like fresh sweet honey. But, there is one thing you can always count on from me. I’ll always bring my best, and to this day I would still welcome a chat to catch up and talk about how you are doing. You are right. Racing does need some real people who love the game.