Size Matters ?

by Ed Meyer

posted on October 25, 2018 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, | No Comments >>

It may be a large oval where marquee races are held, events of the year take place and the biggest players in sports call home. – Or, it may be the quaint little oval that has the spark of a country fair, and generations of horsemen have worked in the sport they love. I have had the wonderful opportunity to work at both and each holds a special place in my heart.


Big Ones

You walk in and everything is perfect. The grounds have been prepared for months and there is energy in the air. You’ll see fans dressed in the finery of the day and ready to enjoy an experience. Some of the bigger tracks have a rich history, and the best in racing has thundered down the lane. You’ll see large artworks, events that celebrate the equine with chef prepared culinary goodies.

There are new players to hardcore handicappers. You’ll see many that come in a large group to celebrate, and friends enjoying a cigar and cocktail. There is something for everyone, and if you can’t find it in the massive gift shop. It doesn’t exist. – The Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup are held at some, and others offer up a festival of racing. You have to love the big ovals that are rich in history and showcase the best in horse racing.


Little Ones

You walk in and you’ll see fans in lawn chairs holding court in the same spot everytime they come. – There are fans walking down to the paddock and known by their first name. The horses are called onto the track by a replay call-to-the-post rather than a live bugler dressed in uniform. – You’ll see more cheap claimers than G1 runners, and if you’re lucky enough to have a turf course you look forward to watching the horses on the greensward.

Every holiday has special giveaways such as T-shirts, caps, and flowers on Mother’s Day. – $1 hot dogs and beer specials are promoted with pride and small stake races are exciting as you get to see the best do battle. – The riders are either on their way up the ladder or jockeys returning to where they began to polish off their career. Small tracks have a rich history as well. Once upon a time, big time riders had their start in the game at the little track. They were given a leg up by a trainer who went on to great things but started at the smaller track. The smaller track has a charm all of it’s own. Morning workouts being watched by longtime horsemen and the smell of fresh morning breakfast wafts through the air from the track kitchen.

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This racing fan loves both. – I enjoy making the trek to Keeneland or Churchill and have caught the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita and under the Twin Spires. You may have to pay a little extra for your seat and park in someone’s front yard, but the day is worth it. – I must admit I always buy a cap from the big day and still have most of them. – Going to the larger track is an event and one you plan to attend. It’s worth the trip as I’ve seen many great runners over the years. To name a few: Risen Star, Forty Niner, Alysheba, Harlan’s Holiday, Lil E. Tee, Point Given, Pleasant Tap, Blame, Zenyatta, Curlin, and too many to mention.

Going to the smaller oval has its own little charm. I’ve always called it the great melting pot as you’ll see the businessman talking horses with the plumber. I watched Steve Cauthen break into the game aboard Red Pipe and just saw jockey Perry Ouzts notch his 7,000th career win to become the 9th all-time leading rider in history. Laffit Pincay called the turf course the best he’s ever ridden, and when Wesley Ward trained his runners over the turf course before going to Royal Ascot to become the first trainer from the states to add his name to the winners. – In the end, I love them both. They serve my needs and allow me to enjoy a day of beauty and pageantry. – As the two ovals hit the wire at the same time the smaller track is a head in front. – I can casually drop by for a few races, catch some simulcast action and get my bet in. – I guess the smaller track will always call my name as a fan and I look forward to going again.