The trip, the move, old job and new

I haven’t written on this page in quite a while and that’s partly on purpose. Now granted I’ve been busy, you know, moving across country and all. But it was more than that. I guess in some ways I didn’t want to jinx everything. I usually write only as a means of self expression and getting things out. I don’t particularly like the act of it as much as I like the feeling afterwards. The post purge. But I kind of purposefully didn’t write about the big journey I just took because partly I was scared the whole time. And partly, maybe mostly, I wanted everything to be just mine. I took the job at Louisiana Downs just before Thanksgiving and for two weeks I knew about it and nobody else did. It was kind of cool having this exciting news that you couldn’t tell anyone. I remember my mom telling me once that when she found out she was pregnant with me she didn’t tell anyone for a few days. Just enjoyed things being me and her and nobody else in the world. Well that’s how I kind of felt about my new job. It was this great new adventure I was going to be taking and nobody knew. Except my mom. I told her.

Let’s go back first though. 2008 I left River Downs a mess of tears and fears, depression and anxiety and longed to just go home. My mom came to Cincinnati and we drove back to Seattle where I was going to get help and try to start a new life. Within a week my boss at Portland offered me a year round job and I was moving down there. Portland, to be kind, was an extremely dark time in my life. I lived there full-time from 2008 to 2014. There were good times, but for the most part, I struggled. Things were dark at times. Very dark. I won’t go into too many details. During that time I turned down a couple of job offers at tracks that I would have wanted to normally take, but I was just too scared to leave my “safe place”. I had made Portland my “safe place” even though I didn’t feel safe there at all. Last January I was scared to leave the house, let alone leave the city. I even started having my groceries delivered so I wouldn’t have to go to the supermarket and experience the panic of waiting in the line. I had gotten off my anxiety meds a few months before and the simple act of standing in a line was the ultimate terror for me. I didn’t go home for Christmas last year. The night Hollywood Park closed, I left after the 7th race that day at Portland Meadows cause I was so anxious and couldn’t calm down. I sat in my car in front of the emergency room and cried for hours.

I went to an outpatient program for people with anxiety and got back on medication and slowly but surely started doing better. By July I was back to being semi social and doing things with friends again. I even called a days races at Portland Meadows in August. I had taken a counseling job in Central Oregon but it didn’t last long. The people were nice but I hated the town and to be honest, once I was feeling better, I knew I only wanted to work in racing. During the offseason I was applying for jobs and nothing sounded more fun than horse racing. Nothing. I went back to Portland Meadows in October for opening day, and for the first time in probably two years, I had fun announcing. I mean, I remembered I liked this. And that it could be fun and not just anxiety. I had forgotten how when I’m feeling good, how fun announcing can be. Then came the call from Louisiana Downs. I love Portland Meadows, but they race 38 days a year. Louisiana Downs races 130 days a year. And I’m someone who is paid per day. From a work standpoint, it was a 100% no brainer. But it meant moving cross country. It meant starting over in a strange town. It meant facing fears of leaving my “safe place”. I remember talking to my mom about it and she asked me “if anxiety wasn’t part of the picture would you go?” I said of course I would. She then said something that stuck with me. “Son, there’s a big world out there, you just gotta take some steps to go see it.” I love my mom more than anything. She’s always been my hero. She always will be.

So I took the job. The minute I said yes a sense of relief came over me. I think it was a sense of knowing that I was going to be able to push myself once again and stop taking a back seat in life. Taking a back seat to my anxiety and giving it all the power over everything.

My last days at Portland Meadows weren’t really bittersweet or anything. I have spent so many days there that I honestly just felt ready to move on. I have so many bad memories of that place and that town, not because of anything PM’s doing, just bad memories of battling anxiety while there. The people there are the best though. I didn’t cry during the races. I cried afterwards when I hugged Jerry Kohls. And I cried when I thanked my boss Will Alempijevic. Those two guys will have my respect forever. Truly class people.

I started driving. I remember stopping in Medford the first day and thinking “god how am I going to make it all the way there.” I had that same feeling once again in Weed, California. Then again in Tulare, Ca. Then again in San Bernadino, CA. Then again before Phoenix. But once I got to Phoenix, I started feeling more comfortable. I was on the road and feeling more and more comfortable. I kept reminding myself “this is what you want.” The times I’ve thrived most in my life were when I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I arrived in Shreveport last Tuesday and It’s already starting to feel more familiar. The people at Louisiana Downs have been so nice. The track is beautiful. I’m believing that this indeed will be a great experience and I’m looking forward to more and more challenges ahead. The race is on.

Horse Player Christmas Problems

Christmas time presents some unusual problems for horseplayers.  Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are the only two days all year there aren’t racing.  For many of us folks in racing, it’s a 7 day a week venture during the year.  I’ve never met a horseplayer who hasn’t said “I’m taking a few weeks off,” and most of them usually make it at least 8 hours into that break before cracking open a DRF.  One of the worst parts of Christmas is having to allocate extra money that’s reserved for the horses all year round for Christmas presents for OTHER PEOPLE!  No matter how many times I would lose as a gambler, I could still rationalize that it was an investment!  I COULD have made money from those bets!  Here are some more things that happen on Christmas for horseplayers.

–Each Christmas horseplayers try to act like they like basketball and usually watch about a quarter of the first game of the NBA Quintuple Header.  And maybe a little bit of the dinner time game, but that’s just because you want to ignore Aunt Blanche and Uncle Teddy who are hammered and annoying.

–As soon as presents are done on Christmas morning you go out in your pajamas and drive to the local 7-11 to pick up the Santa Anita form for 12/26.

–Even though New Year’s day is still a week away, many horseplayers look at Santa Anita’s 12/26 opening day as the start of the new year.  It’s a big DRF full of new possibilities.

–If you’re out of the house and your wife calls, you can’t use the excuse of “honey can I call you back there’s a race going off.”

–Whatever new clothing you’ll get you will wear to the track on 12/26 and if you win you’ll view those new clothes as lucky.  If you lose, well, you won’t wear those clothes to the track again.

–Twitter becomes terribly boring!!  It’s the one day you can’t log on and find someone arguing about a race, bitching about a bad ride, bragging about a big score, etc.

–You have to find creative ways to gamble these two days.  One of my favorite pastimes is picking out the relative who always gets drunk at Christmas dinner and have everyone who is in the pool with you pick a time to when they officially get drunk.  That can be determined by the first really loud cackle laugh or when the cuss words start flowing.

 

2015 racing/twitter predictions

2015 is almost upon us and everyone is doing their “year-end” awards and remembrances, so I thought it would be fun to look ahead at what I think 2015 will have in store for both horse racing and my friends on twitter in the racing community.  So here’s an exhaustive list of predictions.

1.  Peter Berry will rejoin twitter under the name “Pedro Baya”

2.  @RogueClown (Nicolle) will meet Curlin, but will simultaneously scream “Squeeee” so loud that it scares him and he runs away.

3.  Wise Dan will lose a race early in the season and some angry dude on twitter will respond 4 seconds after the race with the tweet “He’s done”

4.  HRTV will begin showing miniature show pony beauty contests on Tuesdays instead of showing Portland Meadows

5.  Todd Pletcher will win the Preakness and criticize Churchill Downs on NBC with Bob Costas.

6.  @CarlyKaiser will finally give in and just make all her tweets in “ALL CAPS”

7.  Los Alamitos will cancel the Ed Burke Million when 8 of the runners test positive for In N Out Burger spread.

8.  @bombsawaybob will play a $0.10 superfecta from Charles Town within 7 minutes of a national tragedy.

9.  Agapito Delgadillo will win the Kentucky Derby and @LosPonies will get yelled at on twitter for celebrating his father in law winning the biggest race in the country.

10.  Michael Wrona will be named the new Woodbine announcer and craft beer prices in Toronto will go up because of it.

11. @StribLove (Johnny Love) will be attacked on the tv set at Canterbury and will put the assailant in a cross faced chicken wing until the police arrive.  He’ll hit his Pick 4 while he waits for them.

12.  @SimonTVG (Simon Bray) will Retweet someone who says they scored by playing his ticket.

13.  Matt Carothers retires from horse racing after he wins $2 million playing Draft Kings Fantasy Football.

14.  Steve Coburn signs an endorsement deal with Just For Men Mustache hair coloring and dyes his stache Jet Black.

15.  Indian Charlie is let back onto the backside at Churchill Downs but only lasts a day as Tammy Fox beats the crap out of him.

16.  @EJXD2 Ed DeRosa will correct 8,257 people on twitter and one of them will finally snap and drive to Kentucky and egg his car.

17.  Joe Nevills @MiBredClaimer will get suspended for accidentally cursing about a WWE event from his DRF twitter account and not his personal account.

18.  @537RacingLLC (Dylan Smith) wins a big race on Preakness Day and does the winner’s circle interview while eating a huge donut.

19.  @Bernier_Matt (Matt Bernier) wins $400,000 on the Handicapping Tournament circuit and people still call him the “broke kid from Horseplayers”

20.  Even though Hollywood Park has been closed over a year, Jay Privman will still take a shot at Vic Stauffer’s announcing in the opening day Del Mar story.

21. I will resign from Louisiana Downs because of  “heat exhaustion” the first day it hits 80 degrees.

22.  Mike Battaglia’s morning line for the Derby will be almost perfect, causing “Morning line criticizer guys” all over the internet to self combust.

23.  Travis Stone will be hired by Churchill Downs, but will be fired shortly afterwards because he refuses to live tweet the Derby Draw.

24.  President Obama will attend the Derby and will pick the logical favorite on NBC telecast.  The horse’s odds immediately sky rocket when 98% of conservative bettors cancel their tickets.

25.  Andy Serling will block someone on twitter who pays him a compliment.

26.  On closing day at Gulfstream Park with a $3,000,000 carryover in the Rainbow 6…Management decides with 0 minutes to post for the first leg to actually run the race the following day to allow more time for the pools to grow.

27.  Churchill Downs opens up wagering on what day Rosie Napravnik’s child will be born.  Horseplayers boycott the pool’s 15% takeout rate.

Beemie Award for Twitter Fight of the year–WINNERS @BARBARO1420 AND @MATTYJRACING

This is the big one. The Best Picture. The MVP. Best Twitter fight of the year. Insight, comedy, facts, opinions, those are all fine. But what is twitter really good for? People fighting and making asses out of themselves when they’re pissed/drunk. When it comes to that, Barbaro1420, Josh Hanson is the Lawrence Olivier, Daniel Day-Lewis, Meryl Streep, you get the picture.

So many of his fights and feuds are part of horse racing twitter lore. There’s the arguments with Ed DeRosa. Anyone who supports Bob Baffert. Anyone who thinks the government should be there to help people. Anyone from DRF. Bruno the Clocker.  Who could forget that one!  He’s tangled with them all. Jeez, even this week he picked a new target to fight with.

Not a NYRA fan

Not a NYRA fan

 

But his post BC Classic feud with Matt Jukick had it all. It had name calling. Fight challenging. Boss calling. Passive aggressive profile bios, twitter breaks and more.

Josh and Matt never seemed to gel on twitter for one reason or another when Matt arrived in Edmonton at Northlands. You got two very opinionated and stubborn guys and it was a recipe for a blow up.

Fast forward to Breeders’ Cup day. Josh had spent weeks, months even, insisting that Baffert is cheating and cannot win in 72 hour security and Bayern is juiced up to the moon and would lose the Breeders’ Cup. So of course, Bayern wins.

Everyone was ready to pile on Josh and give him shit and Matt led with a “hahahahahaha”…..and then it was off. Josh called a name. Matt called a name. Fuck you. No fuck you. You know where to find me. I’ll be there. I’m never coming to northlands again. Good!

It was twitter fighting at it’s finest. And I was right in the middle of it as I’m friendly with both guys. Both even apologized to me for the whole thing.

That's a lot of programs!

That’s a lot of programs!

I think these two hot-heads are ripe for another twitter feud down the road, but for now, it’s probably best that the sequel isn’t in the works.

Beemie Award for Favorite Follow of the Year—WINNER @THERAIDERFAN …MIKE HUNT!

This is a tough one cause there are so many great follows on twitter. But my personal favorite racing follow is @TheRaiderFan. He’s always offensive, generally right, always opinionated but usually somehow respectful when doing it. It’s a good combination that leads to many fun and funny tweets. Really on twitter all I want to do is laugh and he puts out a good dose of those each day.’

See what I mean?

See what I mean?

Beemie Award winner for Hickman Lifetime Achievement Award for Friendliness on Twitter–WINNER @MATTICAPPER!

This award goes to the person who always has a positive and optimistic attitude towards racing, people in racing, and people in general.   It goes to someone who is always respectful, light hearted, serious when appropriate, and most of all, classy and caring.

It goes to the person who will favorite your tweet even when it’s not funny. It goes to the person who is always the first to congratulate you on a winning Pick 4 play and the first to console you when you lose. It goes to the person who never complains about a bad ride or rider. Never mentions their dislike of television analysts.   Essentially this award goes to the person you’d most like to have marry your daughter.

It goes to Matticapper! Matticapper has 23,600 favorites, which means he loves all of you and your posts.

Matti is the nicest!

Matti is the nicest!

Beemie Award for Best Twitter Bromance–Larry Collmus and Peter Berry!

Comedy has always been influenced by comedy teams. Stiller and Mira. Laurel and Hardy. Martin and Lewis. Howard and Robin. Well twitter has had it’s share of great Bromances as well. Derbyologist and Insidethenumbrs. Ridindirtydavis and TheRaiderFan. Me and @Mike Joyce.   @notthetoddster and @grahammotion

But no other Bromance has blossomed in front of our eyes quite like that of Larry Collmus and Peter Berry.

Peter came on to twitter like a force. Then he quit twitter. Then he was back like a day later. Then he started handicapping Mountaineer races. Then he quit again. Then he got drunk one night and started tweeting some really crazy stuff. Then he quit again. But now he’s been back for a while. But the one constant among his inconsistency has been Larry Collmus.

Anytime a new job opens up at any track, be it a fair meet or NYRA, Peter assumes Larry will get it. More often than not he’s right, but still. They go back and forth, matching wits and it’s always entertaining. A particular high spot I thought was just this past Tuesday when Woodbine announcer Dan Loiselle announced his retirement and Larry launched a pre-emptive strike.

Hi Larry Us!

Hi Larry Us!

I hope you two never change!

Larry Rules

Larry Rules

Peter keeping an eye out for Larry taking his job

Peter keeping an eye out for Larry taking his job