This will be the first of three trips up the Northway. TheTurfqueen will be on her way to the Spa tomorrow! The good thing about going mid-week is the smaller crowd, and it's really a good time to connect with old friends. The emphasis is more on the camaraderie, and less on the racing, for at least part of the day.I haven't missed a meet in over 40 years. OUCH! But of course I was a baby then and since the early days I have made many, many great friends. About 20 some odd years ago, 2 picnic tables of an assorted and colorful group of horseowners, hard core and casual racing fans, together with a supporting cast, made friends and have stayed friends, to this day. So let me introduce this post parade of characters to you.
First and foremost, there's Ted.Ted never met a favorite he didn't like. Ted gets the prize, without a doubt, of attending the races more days throughout the year, than anyone I know. And Ted knows EVERYBODY ! If you are there with him on opening day, it's an all day procession of people that come by to say hello to Ted and his wife, Louise.
Then there's Greg. Greg has hot-walked 3 generations of Grade One Stakes winners for one of the Spa's premier trainers. We still don't know if he gets paid to do it, or IF HE PAYS them, to just be under that shedrow. Greg is the go-to-guy for pedigree questions. Can't sit out a race to save his life, and just watch how much he eats, after he's lost the double.
Then there's Julie. Julie bets anything that Nick Zito puts a saddle on. This could be the year Julie goes broke. But there are always those gray horses, Julie.
Then there's Henry ( also known as Bingo) Henry came to racing about 20 years ago, and that's a newbie handicapper, to most of us. Henry likes his turf racing, and bets Rick Violette, no matter what, so I look for Henry to be in good spirits, as Mr.Violette 's horses are hitting the board.
And then there's Dave. Dave has his "angles" and loves "first time turf". Without giving away any secrets, Dave has THE BEST SEAT in the house when watching live races. The one time I watched a race with him there, was Colonel John's Travers. I had CJ, Dave didn't. Guess I won't be getting invited back there any time soon!
Then there's Dennis. Dennis is like the Starter. He gets everybody "in line", and organized. Quietly, he is seriously prepared with all his stats, but if Dennis is on a "live" one, the always-in-control-quiet Dennis turns into a booten-scooten', program-slappen', yellin', screamin' degenerate like the rest of us.
Then there's Gayle. If NYRA had the money that Gayle spends on artwork at the kiosks, they wouldn't need a bailout. Never will you see her without a purchase in her hand. Just how many walls does she HAVE in her house??
Then there's Annie. That's "Pick Six Annie". Annie is an astute handicapper and is not afraid to take "shots". There's another Pick Six coming your way soon, Annie, I just know it!
So that's just a few of my "racetrack" friends, that I will see tomorrow. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the dads, siblings, and friends that we have shared Saratoga days with, who are no longer with us. It's a good time to remember them too.