There are all types of passionate followers of this sport. Some have a vast amount of knowledge and therefore we should be grateful that they are unselfish with this knowledge. After all, there
is money involved. Others are simply feeling their way, trying to get a
foot in and participate. Trying to learn. Be happy all are here, because we all do have something in common. We fell in love with the race track. The sport stays alive. Tracks remain open. No matter the level of expertise or your position held within the industry,
each person is important in sustaining and growing this fantastic sport
of Horse Racing. You can learn something from anyone if you simply free
yourself from ego.
I'm sure that each of us can remember that moment when the bolt struck and you felt that desire to be a part of it all. From a handicapping perspective, I believe for most it is not about the payout, (although, I'd take it any day of the week!) it is about deduction, perseverance,
studying, learning, and listening. It is about gaining knowledge and
the ability to say silently in your head, "I just knew it!" I can recall
with specific clarity, the one and only time in my life when I cashed a
Superfecta ticket in the Kentucky Derby and I floated on air for weeks.
Not because of the payout, but because I did it. We all have had those days of elation and understandably it was that feeling of just knowing it that outweighed the cash for most.
I remember the day at my Grandparents house watching a replay of Secretariat run like a "tremendous machine" and my Grandfather explaining seconds, lengths and furlongs
to me. I would kill to have just one day with him now to ask the right
questions and listen to him speak. I remember seeing the 1992 Breeders
Cup Classic with my Father when A.P. Indy moved "powerfully in between horses" and had taken over like a freight train. I remember the first time I saw Rock Hard Ten and thinking to myself that he was the most beautiful animal I had ever seen.
I fondly remember seeing an old-timer
sitting on a green beach chair at Belmont Park. He was all decked out in
an old brown hat, floppy pants and cigar. I felt compelled to talk with
I walked up and said, "You look like a man who knows his stuff."
He said, "Honey, been comin' to the Belmont Stakes since I was yay-high, never missed one yet."
I asked the man who he liked. He said, "Put it all on Ice Box!"
So I gave him one of my quizzical looks and he says, "What! You don't like him?! He's already won and the race hasn't even started! He's running against cows!"
I said, " Drosselmeyer is going to win this race and Fly Down will be right behind him."
He had the roughest and greatest laugh and said, "Daisy, if Drosselmeyer wins this race, then you come back here and I'll give you a hundred myself!"
I never went back to that old man afterwards but he had a story to tell
his friends. A strange girl, out of the blue, gave him the exacta not
ten minutes before post time. I was shocked myself! But
therein lies the point. He didn't listen to me, but more importantly, I
didn't listen to him. Here was a man who obviously knew much more than I
and yet, I did not accept his advice. Why on earth would he accept mine? Right or wrong, our own opinion wins out every single time. To put someone down for their opinion is not only foolish , it is simply childish. In 2011, I went back to the same spot looking for that green beach chair, but to no avail. Good thing, because I certainly didn't have Ruler on Ice!
We all have our stories, our favorites, our moments,
our opinions, and I for one respect and admire each person who respects
and admires the sport. It is the love of the game and the athletes -
The Horses - that join everyone together and allow it to grow. It is not
competition between fans, it is competition between horses. If we all
had the same opinion, then every single race would have even-money chalk. That's no fun. Tolerance, openness and acceptance is all that is required. Let them all in. It is ONE aspect among many that allows us to continue and grow.
A new year begins. We must embrace all who want to join in, for I imagine, Life without Horse Racing, is no life at all.
Written by Lisa DeMichael