Friday, November 16, 2007

Race Track Stories

saratoga new yorkMichael two minute licking at Oklahoma Training Track circa 1983. Looking so damn good.

Back in the day, Michael could horseback a runner. He was much in demand, named his price and was very busy. So busy we would fight because I'd have to get someone else to get on OUR horses while he got on between 15-18 a day for other trainers. These trainers performed acts of trust and faith seeing that we were also a claiming operation. I guess they figured it was worth the risk. The caveat of Michael being so good was that he was sought out for the "bad" ones. Apparently a guardian angel rode alongside him as he never, ever got hurt. Dumped a few times but he always got up and stomped off in a huff.

oklahoma training trackMichael on our pony "Spit" adjusting the bridle for an exercise rider at Oklahoma Training Track in Saratoga, New York, also about 1983 or so.

The stories we could tell would take you into the middle of next week. You'd swear we were full of crapola. Although the race track life can be a mundane and exhausting grind, it's also raw, unpredictable and dangerous. The cast of characters resembles those in a Hollywood murder thriller.

horse racingIrish jockey Jean Campbell and moi at Golden Gate Fields circa 1994. Jean won her first race in the States on one of our fillies - and by ten+ lengths.

California has a healthy population of Irish horsemen and women. I have a lot of respect for them - they're kind, patient and extremely attentive and loving to their horses. My God, can they put away a pint or two (or a dozen or two). The drunker they get, the more difficult it is to understand their broughs which thickens as the night wears on. "Fookin" abounds.

del mar thoroughbred clubMorning breaks at Del Mar circa 1995.

"May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be always at your back..."

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