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Stories From The Rail

Written by Madison Jackson 
 
We all have that one horse who holds a special place in our heart. We all have that one race that he could have won had he just been given another shot. We all have our highs, our lows, our greatest moments; we have it all. We are horse racing fans, and we will never stop declaring our love for this sport.
 

When anybody thinks of any sport, celebrity, or game, it is safe to say that the fans make up what the object is. With celebrities, you have crazed fans that can sometimes be a bit too crazy, but also you have those who are content to sit back and enjoy the show from a distance. Likewise, you have the same with racing. Although fans may not be the first thing that comes to mind when somebody hears 'racing', they should be. Whether the fans are longtime owners and trainers, new to the sport, or old veteran fans of racing that could tell you about Secretariat from personal experience, they all help make racing what it is today.
 

In the midst of my Hoosier Park adventures, I met many people who enjoyed the sport enough to join into it. Jane Morgan (name changed) was one of them. She was the person who opened and closed the paddock gate for owners and trainers coming from the rail where the fans stood. I talked to her between the ends of races, because it was then that she looked the loneliest. When we were talking, she told me that she was not looking desperately for a job, but instead got into the job because of the horses. I loved that, because in this world, society is not so much founded on passion, but lust for money and the power it brings. But Jane, she did not fall into the big category of those people who strive to be well known and wealthy. Instead, she tried and succeeded in being a part of what made her happy: racing.
 

I also met two owners of a successful Indiana racehorse who was racing in a stakes race later on in the year. I was on the paddock rail, and two men were eagerly talking, smiling at the program, and checking up to look at one specific horse. I followed their gaze, looked down at my own program, and wondered, "Are they superfans or owners?"
 
"Come on, Moe," they kept muttering to themselves and the horse as he was led by. Finally, I nerved up enough to ask about him.
 
"That's a beautiful horse, number 6." Which is the horse they were glancing at. "Is he your pick?"
 

Their heads swiveled towards me, anxious to see who asked them the question. The man closest to me, the one wearing a gray baseball cap, smiled. His voice was raspy, and I suppose he wasn't much younger than 45.
 
"Yea, that's our horse; number 6, the gray one," he said, and his friend beside him smiled some more. The gray horse was lead by, and the judge called riders up. "How did you get him?" I asked.
 

"This is our first horse," the same one said. "And luckily, he's been one of the best 2 year old's in the state!" And with that, they walked away, presumably towards the rail. I ran over to my mother, and told her to bet number 6.
 
"12-1 odds?" She asked, but I told her yes. I was sure of it. The race was ran, and number 6 won by a nose. I looked to the winners circle, and the two men looked like they had just won a million bucks. I smiled. It didn't pay too bad either.
 

My friend and neighbor Larry Penner (actual name) is one example of a person who had the opportunity to join the sport before he was a fan. He had a speedboat and a friend. He and his friend were sitting at a diner, eating, when the discussion of a racehorse comes up.
 
"I'm bored," Larry said. His friend smiled.

"Have you ever thought about owning a horse?"
 
Larry didn't know what to think, because horse racing was a sport with only one big race, the Kentucky Derby, and with one good horse, Secretariat. Larry shook his head.
 

"Well, there is this good horse down at Indiana Downs if you're interested."

Larry called this man, and they brought up a price. $6,000.
 
"I don't have that much, " Larry started to say, but then stopped. "Hey, do you want a speedboat?"
 
In my eyes, Larry's love for racing was thrust upon him, as if he was destined to become a small town trainer with 12 horses and a small training track. Now, each year, this fan watches the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont and never gives up hope of making it to the big leagues.
 

Next time you are on the rail next to somebody, tell them your story. Tell them how you came to love the sport that brought you and this random stranger to stand right next to each other. Tell them your moment, your one true love for your one true love horse. If you're lucky, they just might tell you theirs.

 

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Older Comments about Stories From The Rail...

Wow! Talk about success!
Told ya...won by a nose! http://www.flickr.com/photos/75266763@N03/8778451898/
Thank you all so much! And yes, TV, if you can't find an interesting story at a track, you are simply not looking at all! @Sullivan, in response to your question, he has won a $150,000 stakes with one of his mares, and he has a few horses in training but I think he plans on retiring do to lack of exercise rider and horse availibility. I love it when people tell interesting stories of racing; there is certainly no end! What are all of yours?
Very excellent, and all true. You can learn the most interesting things talking to people as the horses walk by.
Maddie, there is always someone at the racetrack willing to tell you a story. That's one of the great things about the track.
Excellent, Maddie!
R Abrams, historian for the Alberta Racing Commission "If you can't find a good story at a race track, you have flat lined and you have no pulse."
I enjoyed this very much! :)
You asked them about their stories. Sometimes, people want to tell those.
Great piece, Maddie!
As usual nice article
Excellent Miss Jackson. Felt like I was there.
Fantastic, Maddie. Keep 'em coming!
I love this, Madison! Tears. Very sweet !
Your writing has greatly improved, this is very good and the stories captivated me the whole way through. You feature Larry very well. Do you have any information on what became of his racing career?
Feedback is greatly appreciated! :)

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