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HRN Original Blog:
Trackside with Trackman

Back On Track--A Fort Erie State Of Mind

Opening Day, whether it’s on the major league level such as baseball, football or even just your local racetrack, it serves as a symbol of rebirth. The occasion represents freshness and the chance to forget last season. Opening Day is also a state of mind as well, with countless fans known to recognize this special occasion as a good reason to get out of the house and head on out to the venue. And in my case,the venue was Fort Erie Racetrack.


With Mother Nature cooperating, it was a spectacular day at the track Sunday afternoon in Fort Erie, Ontario, where the ponies are running once again at the picturesque oval. Though the slot machines are now silent, racing fans packed the track for opening day of the live thoroughbred season to try their hand at picking winners. With Bugler Nagel Reinhold, in his 51st straight year of trumpeting the famous “call to post,” the horses made their way on to the track for the start of the 115th consecutive season. CALL TO SERVE led wire-to-wire, winning by 5 lengths to kick off the 10-race card. It was a field day for speed, with all 10 races won by horses that were either on the lead at the first call or within a length. Seventy-percent of the day’s winner’s won by large margins. In addition to the above mentioned first race winner, race 2 was taken by GIMMESIXSTEPS, scoring by an easy 4 ¾ lengths. In race 5, Woodbine shipper, IDEALS AND DREAMS crossed the finish line in front of his nearest rival by 9 ½ lengths. Not to be outdone, JEFFREY ARMIN, another Woodbine product, won the very next race by 14 lengths. Three more big winners followed in races 7 through 9. WORTH A PUNT by 4 ¼, MOLINARO WARRIOR by 4 and BOB AND WEAVE by 6 ¼, respectively. Allow me skip back to race 8. It featured a horse named YOGAROO, who I have the privilege to own with Wendy Wolff, my partner/trainer. YOGI, as we call him, went off at 7-1, broke from post 8, set a pressured pace and had the lead from the inside on the turn, but gave way in mid-stretch to finish fourth. He ran his heart out, doing all the dirty work on the front-end. In his first outing of the season, there was no shame in this effort. Only disappointing thing was, it looked as though he was going to get the place spot, but was passed late by two rivals in the shadow of the wire, falling a length short of second money. He made us proud, and as the saying goes, "wait til next time."


After the conclusion of Day 1 of the 81-day season, I made my way out and in doing so, I reflected back on the day. I cashed a few winning tickets, but much more than that, I reconnected with my racing friends, I made news acquaintances, watched exciting racing, and most importantly was the thrill I received witnessing YOGAROO race on this opening day. I exited Fort Erie Racetrack, a place where I have attended many opening days, in the same state of mind I’ve always left there in, ABSOLUTELY FULFILLED.


NOTE: On my way to Fort Erie, the song “New York State Of Mind” was playing on the radio, so as I drove and sang (horribly) I changed the words to accommodate what I was feeling while I was driving to my destination.

 

Some folks like to get away, get to the track ‘cause it’s opening day
Drive their cars down from Toronto or just across the border from Buffalo
But I’m making my way along the Niagara River line, I’m in a Fort Erie state of mind

 

It’s the place where I see all the horses run, and people having fun
Sometimes I have to go high up in the grandstand to get out of the scorching sun

 

But I know it’s a place I’m truly needing, I can’t waste any more time
I’m in a Fort Erie state of mind

 

It wasn’t easy surviving the winter time
Completely out of touch and feeling blue
But now that I have my Racing Form.
Forget the T.V. and all the daily news

 

It comes down to reality and that’s just fine with me
The racing season has arrived

 

I don’t care about the Chinese food along the riverside.
I don’t have any reasons
I left them all behind

 

I’m in a Fort Erie state of mind

 

I’m just making my way along the Niagara River line, because I’m in a Fort Erie state of mind.

 

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Older Comments about Back On Track--A Fort Erie State Of Mind...

Drummond (who NEVER actually attended the races) wrongly ASSUMED it was exclusively a fat cat rich man's game. THe backstretch is like a big circus family: itereant, fiercely loyal and hard working. IT IS AN HONOR to be counted as one of them.
Well the Auditor only stated what 99% of us already knew. Leave to the 1% to screw it all up.
big auditor report saying that the cancellation of slots at race track program was short sighted and a big mistake
Great track great people there. Now if that Slug Wynne would get racing back to where it was in Ontario we would be ok.
Wow. That horse is older than every horse in my barn.
Amazingly in the first race Tuesday, a 15 year old has been entered. http://www.equibase.com/static/entry/FE061714CAN-EQB.html FIFTEEN? yes you are reading correctly
Fort Erie is a beautiful track. I hope it can survive. There is talk of FE being able to privitize the slots. Hopefully it can happen. Thanks for the article wish them the best for a successful meet

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Hi, my name is Nick Costa a.k.a. Trackman. As for my "nickname" of Trackman, it came about the following way: When people, either friends or family would inquire as to where I was going, my reply was always the same, "I'm going to the track man." I was born and raised in Niagara Falls, New York, about a 30 minute drive from the racetrack, in Fort Erie, Canada.  I was five years old the first time I attended the races. My father, who was a regular at the track, took me to Fort Erie. My first recollections were of just running up and down the stairs to and from our grandstand seats and the walking ring. Of course, after viewing the horses, I would run back up the stairs, and tell my father who to bet. He would look at me quizzically, and then proceed to place a $2 dollar wager on my selection for me. Through the years, with continuous trips to Fort Erie, and also to Woodbine and the now defunct Greenwood, my father would take the time to explain all the information in the Daily Racing Form. After I learned the basics of handicapping, I never met a racing Form I didn't like. If I had spent as much time on my studies as I did reading the Form, I probably could be sitting on the Supreme Court. Those early horse playing days have  lasted into my adulthood, as I still play the races today on a regular basis. But now I have added a couple of new dimensions. First, I officially became a licensed thoroughbred race horse owner back in 2000, fulfilling a dream come true. Fort Erie, where I mostly play the races and race my horses, is still my favorite track. It's my home track, where I fell in love with everything about the sport. In addition to the tracks mentioned that I visited with my father, I have graced the grounds of Churchill
Downs (Derby 134 and several Breeders' Cups), Saratoga, Mountaineer, Gulfstream Park, Sam Houston Race Track, Presque Isle, Monmouth Park and Belmont Park. Second, I started to write a few years ago when I started my own blog, called Triple Crown Chase.


The blog was established to provide some personal insight about the horses and trainers who compete against one another in the 3 yr old prep races leading up to the Kentucky Derby. I preview and review the preps races and extend coverage to include the Preakness and Belmont. Last year, my blog previewed the Canadian Triple Crown races for the first time. The second leg, The Prince Of Wales Stakes, is run at my home track of Fort Erie. I am honored and thrilled to be on board with Horse Racing Nation and I want to thank everyone for their support.