There’s a first time for everything. Remembering “firsts”
can be thrilling and anxiety provoking, sometimes simultaneously. Most
remarkable may be your first:
second, third or fourth date that lead to an “event” requiring far less
thereafter motor vehicle accident
- Job or
cashed that required an IRS signing
I could go on and on, but I don’t want summon memories from
the so distant past that I miss my point, which is…
Oh yes, the Oaks card at Churchill Downs on May 4, 2012. It was my
first trip to Churchill Downs on two levels – fan and media member. As a fan I
was just happy to have a place to sit myself down, crack open my past
performance and watch all the rituals that started and ended each race. As a
media member, I had privileges and access beyond my wildest dreams. (Said seat
had electrical outlets for my computer, a complimentary program and just happen
to be resting six floors above the track and on the finish line.)
Goosebumps you ask, sure. When the National Anthem was
played to open the day, I couldn’t help but think of my uncle, Peter Foss. A
retired Army colonel who loved God, family, country and Thoroughbred horse
racing, Pete was a man we all hope to be. He graduated from West Point, served
his country in Korea and Vietnam and left such a lasting impression on the men
he lead that many kept writing to him more than 40 years after their discharge.
Pete and I spent a weekend away at Saratoga for 10 straight
years. We talked about going to the Kentucky Derby one day, but cancer claimed
his life five years ago on Belmont Stakes day. But not before he gave me the
winning advice of playing a Rags to Riches/Curlin exacta box.
The day itself charmingly met my expectations. Churchill is
every bit the elegant track it looks like on television. The racing was top
notch, seeming to me that anyone and everyone owning or training a decent horse
pointed to Churchill Downs on the first weekend in May.
The crowd was beautiful, especially from a distance.
Kidding, but certainly many fans had their drink on early in the day.
As my first “media member” experience, our digs where akin
to a dignified fraternal club – free food and drink, enough tellers to handle
the room and great seats in an air-conditioned room bereft with a television
bank that would make NASA scientist envious. My access was only limited buy how
far I wanted to walk.
Finally the friendship found with mates from Horse Racing
Nation – Mark Midland, Brian Zipse, Jasen Mangrum and Kevin Kerstein – was alone
worth the trip. It’s great to find others who share my passion for following
and betting on Thoroughbreds.
Enough telling you about my experiences click on the video
link for a full flavor of Kentucky Oaks Day 2012.