~Written by Johnnie Carrier
It was one of the more satisfying
days of my life. No really, my beautiful summer day at Saratoga Race Course
will go down as one of those special days that I will always remember. Did I
meet Mother Theresa? Was I healed of some strange malady by a laying of the
hands? None of those-I won at the race track. I’m as deep as a puddle, I know.
But it was more than all of that, because I predicted history.
The cloudless sky guided us during
the hour and a half drive to the city once known for its mineral water and the
baths that the rich of the 1800’s would frequent. Heck, if I knew I could take
a bath, I would have grabbed my bottle of Prell on the way out. Here is a
detailed log of our trip to the ‘Toga’.
8:45 AM: I
can’t get into the bathroom because of my son Dave, who is feeling the effects
of a stomach flu, has the bathroom occupied. All I need is to brush my tooth
and I can head out but I’m forced to wait.
9:00 AM: I
announce to anyone who will listen that Will Take Charge will win the Travers
Stakes. I’ve been saying it all week but everyone laughed at me because Will
Take Charge isn’t one of the so called ‘Big Three’ of Verrazano, Orb, and
Palace Malice. And due to the fact that Saratoga is the Graveyard of the
Champions, better horses like Man of War, Gallant Fox and Secretariat have
fallen here. I’m betting on the long-shot, it’s the story of my life.
9:30 AM: We are on the road, rushing
to make the first race, which has an 11:35 Post time. With Dawn driving, I have
a fear that my day at Saratoga will come to a quick end due to her excessive
speed. I’m not saying she was breaking the law, but like in the song Hot Rod Lincoln
the telephone poles looked like a picket fence.
Finally at the track, I was hounded
by a guy trying to sell me seats on the way in. He was following me as if I
had the secret of life. Having plans with family, I decided to do what any
real man would do. I looked him in the eye and told him,”My wife won’t let me
get the seats.” That line was like bug repellent to my pushy salesman, because he
scattered away understanding what’s it like to be really married.
Once inside, we walked determinedly
to a spot in the shade. And on the way, in the bustle of the back yard, the
National Anthem is played which stops the crowd in their tracks. It was the
most amazing and American thing I ever saw. Hardcore gamblers, hot women in hats
as wide as their boyfriend’s wallet, guys with bad knees and a very
understandable woman in tow paused as well with hat over heart. The track was
silent until the song ended and then it exploded with action again. It thrilled
Saratoga’s smells fill the air.
Cigars, hot dogs and expensive, cheap beer are all pasted before my nose.
Locally, it’s the only big league sport within a short drive and it comes
around every summer. Saratoga has seen more Hall of Famers then Fenway and
Yankee stadium combined. In fact, it’s
the oldest sports venue in the country. And I’m starting to get into a betting
After the first was
race lost, I hit the next six races. Three of them for over 30 bucks and I’m as
hot as a kiln. The buzz was all about the Travers. We would talk to the guys in
the betting line and all of them scoffed at me for exclaiming that Will Take
Charge will win the race.
It was now time for the Travers. I knew that a long shot
would win but would it be mine? I bet yes with a fifteen dollar bet. When they
passed by me, the five was fifth and I was heartbroken. But further down the stretch, he found another gear and won by a whisker. YES! I’m a winner. And I
predicted history. Nice job Saratoga.
Johnnie Carrier is a freelance writer who was King for an
afternoon and it was well deserved.