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Breeders Cup 2015
Kentucky Derby 2017

The Travelin' Men...

Good evening world! While there isn’t any possible chance that I’ve been to as many race tracks as Brian Zipse, I recently added two more to my list. Arlington Park communications master and press box czar Dave Zenner and I completed the daily double driving to both Laurel and Charles Town in the same day. What you are about to witness is real. The participants are not actors. They are the actual people who have already either lost their minds or drove a long way to appear at various Eastern race tracks. Both parties at the tracks have agreed to admit their looniness and have their stories told here here, in our forum: The Dark Horse Blog.






































(Laurel Park Entrance)

It was a typical overcast last winter day as Dave and I began the trek up Interstate 95 from my new home in Richmond, through Washington DC, and to Laurel, Maryland. Now normally I wouldn’t tell people about visits to the rest stop, but the highlight of that point in time along our route was when Dave attempted to get in the WRONG CAR! I wonder what the owners of the car were thinking at that point in time…but I couldn’t help to laugh about it. I suppose cars of the same color can be confusing. As you can imagine with the two of us together that the Beatles songs were in full force.







































(Laurel Park Stretch)

Anyway, after the two-hour drive we finally arrived at Laurel Race Track! It reminded me a lot of Hawthorne from the outside (and the inside too). As we attempted to find our parking spot we were stopped by none other than… the booth guy! We “flashed” our “media credentials” then proceeded to enter the building. We headed up to the Terrace Dining Room and enjoyed a tasty Maryland buffet! The grits with shrimp was interesting and the food was rather tasty (the roast pig was tremendous)!  And man, did the Terrace Dining Room look and feel EXACTLY like the Hawthorne Gold Cup Dining Room! Whoa.







































(Shoe Board in the Paddock) 







































(Laurel Park Paddock)


The wagering had much to be desired as Dave and I didn’t hit many winners all day (more on that later) so we decided to hook up with Maryland legend Mike Gathagan. Mike took us on the grand tour of the facility which included the largest elevator I think I have ever been on as well as the press box! I mean, this elevator was just as “fast” as the ones at Hawthorne but only like 500 times the size. You could have fit like a bazillion million people in this thing. OK enough about the elevator. In the press box we got to meet East coast race calling genius Dave Rodman who is a very nice guy and I can’t wait to hang out more with him at Colonial Downs this summer!







































(A place that Dave and I were not visiting)







































(Laurel Park Press Box Library)








































(Laurel Park from the Press Box)































(Laurel Park Gate)







































(Dave and the Jockey Statue)


After a trip to the paddock, another round at the buffet (with tasty pretzels and funnel cakes for dessert), and more lost wagers, we decided to wrap up our time at Laurel and make the trek to Charles Town.

There really isn’t much between Laurel and Charles Town on Maryland Route 200 and I-270… but man when you cross the Potomac river into West Virginia it’s instant mountains! Or it feels like it to us native northerners.







































(Made it to Hollywood!!)


Once we found our way into the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town, we met up with Erich Zimny, VP of Racing Operations and had what was a fantastic steak dinner! This definitely was not the day to be counting calories! Feeling extremely full, Erich, Dave, and I proceeded through the casino to the race track. We grabbed an empty set of box seats inside the comfort of the racing parlor and proceeded to try to win some money. There was one situation where there was an enormous amount of money in the show pool on a heavy favorite. Based on the payouts it seemed to make sense to play a favorite over ALL exacta. However I was also looking at that show pool money again and thinking about going after the bridgejumpers. After all I almost always try to beat them. Instead I played the exacta strategy, the favorite finished off the board and lots of money was paid out to show. I suppose it wasn’t going to be the day but we had a great time at Charles Town none the less! Erich was a great host and I guarantee I will be visiting this track again soon!







































(Charles Town Gate)






































(Charles Town Stretch)







































(Charles Town Paddock) 


After grabbing a coffee for the road, we headed back to Richmond for the night. Along the way we were stuck behind the most annoying driver in the entire world. The dude would NOT let off the brake pedal for what seemed like a hundred miles! (OK I might be exaggerating a bit) And for those of you who use GPS apps on your iPhones, I highly recommend WAZE. I’m telling ya, there was a major traffic jam on I-95 south at two in the morning and this app routed us right around it and must have saved us 45 minutes worth of just sitting in traffic. Score!

After a few hours of sleep, Dave and I went right back at it the next day to make it a full trifecta by visiting the Colonial Downs OTB on Broad Street. Even though Jim Miller texted us the winner of a race at Gulfstream, we proceeded to not make that bet and lose even more money on the weekend.  






































(Colonial Downs OTB)


What was lost financially was gained through a fun experience and visiting two great race tracks! Somehow these road trips always turn into some kind of adventure, but they are all worth it! I wonder what the next road trip will bring…???




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Older Comments about The Travelin' Men......

Tv, thanks for telling me, I was considering going to the Whitney! Big thanks!
Great, funny article!
People often travel close to tracks and don't even realize it. I was at a seminar in Hershey and if I would have known Penn National was in range I would have driven over rather than stay in my room getting dumber watching the tube.
lol very COOL Dark Horse!! What a fun trip, a few winners are always optional, half the fun is getting there...the other half BEING THERE!!
I spoke yesterday with my sportswriter friend on the staff of the Saratogian and he says Saratoga will be a zoo this summer what with a meet long 150 year anniversary...He thinks it will particularly be bad for crowds on the days of the Whiteney and Travers.
Chris, I will be in Saratoga a lot this summer, so hopefully we can coordinate on that, too.
I'm planning on getting to Saratoga this summer, but now Andy has me thinking of the Preakness too!
there was a good one in the early 70's that traveled to so many tracks he got the title the Arkansas Traveler, as I recall the good one Nodouble
Long trips to see the best are worth it: my expereinces at the first few Breeder's Cup, visits to Kentucky and Saratoga......They are worth it. My car AUTOMATICALLY turns toward any track I have never visited whenever I am in 200 miles of them!!
Actually that's not a bad idea... Preakness....
Yeah, the Dark Horse is back in all of his glory!!!! I once made that drive from the Baltimore area to Charles Town, but that was long before the Hollywood casino! Sounds like a great road trip with Zenner. Chris, are we meeting up at the Preakness this year?
Dave and the jockey swapped e-mail addresses too. I wonder what they're yapping about?
That jockey looks a little nervous ... is Dave scowling at him? Well done, fellas!

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