Falling in Love

by Ed Meyer

posted on September 19, 2018 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>

Sometimes you stumble across things that bring a smile to your soul. – It can be your secret love or best friend. For many, they search their entire life looking for such a thing and others find it in a blink of an eye. – For me, I was a younger man who fell head over heels. – It’s been many years later and I’m still a happy man.

What started out as a trip out with dad turned into a full-blown love. – We would make the 10-mile drive and catch the last three or four races. We would talk and plan all the way as $2 wagers awaited. My dad wasn’t a big bettor, but he had more fun than most at the track. – I started off the same. There was something about making a couple $2 bets that bit me at a young age. – The time spent with my old man was priceless. He loved the early speed runners and I always favored far back closers. That’s racing. If everyone enjoyed the same things what a boring game it would be. – This is a game where you back up your opinions with a few bucks.

As a kid who grew up in a small town, I did the usual things. I played ball, had friends, and had a lawnmower that knew the town well. – I would make my way around looking for pick-up jobs and eventually gained regular customers. I wasn’t saving for a bike, a car, or clothes of the day. I was working to make a few bucks to head out to the races with dad. – Grass in the summer, leaves in the fall, and shoveling snow in the winter. I had a source of income and that kept me in the game. For a young man of thirteen, I was allowed to take a few bucks out to the track and hang with the old man. – These were the best of times.

We all had a study hall back in school. I would get my work done and ask for a hall pass to the library. – Inside was a large selection of books, but I would head to the newspaper section. – I started with the local newspaper which had a great racing section. I kept up on past results and who was leading the pack. – I would examine the entries and hope dad would ask me to make the drive later that night. – After reading the local paper, I would peruse the New York Times and Chicago papers. I wanted to know all about the game.

A few years passed and my love grew. – I still did the things kids my age were doing, but my heart was somewhere else. – I remember playing in a football game where we were beating the tar out of the other team. They allowed the clock to roll and that meant the game would be over in half the time. – I remember one of the refs walked by and I caught a glimpse of his watch. – I wasn’t thinking about having a few warm beers with the boys. I was making plans to shower and make the 10-mile drive. By my calculations, I would be able to catch the last four races. – We won, I showered quickly, and made it for the last races. When I got back to town I caught up with the guys and had my warm beer.

I was 17-years-old and my dad knew I loved playing the races. – Nothing wrong in his book, as kids could get into other trouble. The worst thing that could happen to me was losing $10 bucks. – It was at this time he made me a deal I couldn’t refuse.” Make good grades, stay out of trouble and there would be a car to drive and a few bucks to play on the weekend.” – I felt like I’d won the Irish Sweepstakes. – It was at this time he introduced me to his bookie. – Now before you get the picture of some crooked nose gangster, it was a couple of old men my grandpa used to bet with and my dad enjoyed betting a few bucks. – I was put on a $20 per week limit, and I could call up and make a few bets on the “race of the day” on the radio. – Magically I was transported to Lexington, Louisville, and River Downs. All had the “race of the day” on the radio and I could call up and bet a couple bucks and tune in to the live call. – These were great times shared with my dad.

When I went to college I met some other racing fans who knew me from the track. I was working in the parking lot and always had my windbreaker on with great pride. – We would meet at Turfway for a few races, and over time things got even better. – My buddy Tim was an avid player. It seemed we always had the same college class times. – I would make my way out to my car at 11:00 am and drive up and grab a quick bite for lunch. – On some of the best days, there was a Daily Racing Form under my windshield wiper and had a message attached. ” Meet me here at 11:15 and we’ll drive down to Keeneland.” – If there were any sweeter words I surely don’t know them. The many treks we made over the years and the fun we enjoyed was worth a pound of gold. – I surely miss my old friend, but the fond memories will last a lifetime.

I graduated to be a teacher but they had a freeze on hiring. – I was a sub-teacher and worked at the track at night. – Over the years, I made my way up the ladder and my part-time jobs eventually became my career. There was no better job in the world than working in racing. I saw the growth, the best of times, and decline. But my love never wavered. I have always been optimistic and felt we could educate and grow the sport back to good times.

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to work in some really great jobs in racing. – At Turfway, I had a few radio programs that allowed me to talk horse racing and did on-air handicapping. I was finally doing what I loved. – River Downs came calling and I became the director of marketing. In addition, I did on-air handicapping and a weekly radio show. I was one of the “Regular Guys” with John Englehardt. This was more fun than the law allowed as we educated with a twist of fun. Never taking ourselves too seriously. – When I had the opportunity to work with Keeneland, I felt like I was called up by the Yankees. This was the big leagues as I walked under the large sycamore tree in the paddock. I had to fight back the lump in my throat. I finally had a year working for the big leagues. – A few years later, I started working at Belterra Park. – I was hired to do the morning line and call the races. I worked hard at trying to improve every day and there has never been a time I wanted to be anywhere in the world as my car pulled into the parking lot. – I’ve been writing since 2011 for Winning Ponies and was the original host of the Winning Ponies internet radio show. –  I’ve been able to write about anything in racing and the love of my life. – I’m a pretty lucky guy and the future looks bright ahead. I’ll always be a fan at heart and work to educate and share the love of racing with others. – Best of luck and I’ll see you at the races!