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. РI 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.