Making friends at the racetrack was always a natural thing for me. As a young boy, I was enthralled with not only the wonderful horses, but also the bond between my Dad and his group of racing buddies. Guys like Big Glenn, Belmont Bill, Crazy John, and Aqueduct Anton shared a love for racing every bit as passionate as my father, and because of this, and probably little else, they were friends. In the glory days, my brother was young, and I was younger, but in a tag-a-long, soak up as much information, camaraderie, and fun as possible kind of way, we were part of the group. What an amazing and colorful crew of Saturday afternoon Uncles they proved to be for this young, impressionable racefan.
Grade school through high school, I found no such passion for racing in my small hometown, so it was my family and extended family that were left to satisfy my need to share all the current affairs within the sport. My wish to have friends my own age who felt the same about horse racing as I did, would not come true until college. Somehow, someway passionate fans of racing found each other despite the large university setting. I am proud to say twenty years later, I still keep in touch with some of those college buddies. Not coincidentally, it is the ones who enjoy racing that have been the easiest to maintain a connection.
Today, making friends at the races has never been so easy. A new community of passionate horse lovers, racefans, and handicappers is coming together through the explosive nature of social media. On Facebook alone, I have made so many wonderful friends who share my passion. With horse racing as the icebreaker, fans from all over the country, and even the world, find each other in a meaningful way. Twitter, Horse Racing Nation, and now Derby Wars, along with Facebook, have done so much more for me personally than I ever dreamed possible.
In the past few years I’ve had the pleasure to make close friends, meet many good people at the races, and become friends with hundreds more online. Not bad for a guy who originally just hoped to share his racing blog with a few people.
To this day, the commonality of a love for horse racing is something that closely bonds me, Dad, and my brother. No matter where we are, or what is going on in our lives, we always have it in common and something new and exciting to discuss. Although my racing connections made online only occupy the most recent 5% of my lifetime or less, I can confidently say that friendships made there will be important and lasting ones.
And a guy can never have too many friends, right? I will be at Hawthorne on the 15th, Keeneland on the 20th, and at Churchill Downs during Breeders’ Cup week. I invite you to greet me with a handshake and a smile so that we can talk about the horses together.