Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
Let’s take a look at the old saddle bag and see what, you the reader is talking about.
Dear Johnnie; You were never a jockey. I’ve seen your picture and you are 260 lbs. (false-I’m bigger) You were never a jockey! Stop lying…Eddie Arcaro.
Dear Mr. Arcaro; Oh yes I was a jockey. Back in my younger years, I was a great jockey. What does it matter that I spun vinyl earning my title at a small radio station in Bennington Vt. A jockey is a jockey, no matter what. Geez, some people, next letter…
Dear Johnnie; Who the heck are you, where did you come from and what color is the sun in the world you live in? Lonely at Santa Anita…
Dear Lonely; I live in North Adams, Massachusetts. I’m about 50 miles east of Albany, New York. It is a short 2 hour drive to Saratoga, where I spent many summer days with my parents during the early 1970’s. As instructed, my brother, two sisters and I would run when the gates opened to get benches in the hot club house sun. I was present at the 1973 Whitney where Onion made them cry as he beat the heavy favored Secretariat. It was a moment that I shared with my Dad. I was 14 and we weren’t the best of friends at this time. Standing in the clubhouse bar, he looked me dead in the eye and said, “You saw something here today. You saw history; I hope you remember it.” And I always did. I remember the tears and the crying of my mother and others. It was real and looking back maybe well deserved. The sheer shock of the loss was all over Saratoga. And you could see it in the eyes of the people. I still have my Dads old program from the day another Goliath fell to a David at the Spa.
I have been married for 27 years. Dawn and I have many a racetrack story. The time we had to go to the IRS window. The time we got into the fight over Saratoga Chips. (Last August) We’ve lost and we’ve won. Racing is a lot like life isn’t now. I have a son who just graduated from college in Vermont and he is just starting to gain an interest in racing mainly because he found he can walk around bare foot in the grandstand and no one will say anything. I’ve raised a handicapping hippie with a philosophy degree who says things like, “I’m not getting a good vibe off of that horse. It’s got bad Karma.”
Being 54, I’ve earned every piece of wisdom that I know. But in racing, the lessons hurt more. I’m cursed with ‘I should have bet’ thinking. You know, I should have bet this and I should have bet that. However, I take all the credit when I do get lucky and hit one. I am also one of the reasons that racetrack attendance is down. I bet on line. Not much money really, but I do like that feeling of the big hit. Online betting has cut down on the attendance because you can now bet in your underwear before you go to work. Try that at Del Mar.
But remember to go to your local track every once in a while. It’s a good date and you get the chance to see some of the greatest stars and action the sport has seen. There is something so special to see that pack of horses come around the last turn, heading down the top of the stretch. And there is that one horse that uses the corner as a slingshot. Then he speeds from seventh to the lead in about 17 seconds. There is nothing prettier in sports. So, I hope that answers some of your questions Lonely at Santa Anita.
Dear Johnnie; I’m stuck in Suffolk Downs in East Boston. How do I get out of here? I feel like Charlie on the MTA...Sea Crackers.
Dear Sea Crackers; Win some races and maybe I’ll see you in Aqueduct for the winter.
Hmm…I wonder how a horse could type on a keyboard-I bet he has special shoes.
Johnnie Carrier is a freelance writer who says, “It’s nice to meet you. Keep those cards and letters coming sport fans.” firstname.lastname@example.org