I watched the move the Bucket List the other day and while I’ve always thought about my Bucket List in terms of ‘life’ things, but thought it would be interesting to put down a Bucket List of Horse Racing things I’d love to see or do before I croak. I love horse racing. It’s given me some great experiences and opportunities and it’s also given me some of the worst experiences of my life. But racing has definitely given me more moments of passion and exhilaration. I don’t know how long i’ll be involved with the sport, but if I’m blessed to be in it for a while longer, here’s some things I’d like to experience.
1. Meet Tom Durkin.
I think no matter what industry or profession someone works in, it’s pretty surreal to meet the people who are at the top of that business. I’ve had the good fortune to meet and spend time with some amazing racecallers. People like Luke Kruytbosch, Robert Geller, John Dooley, Trevor Denman and many many others. But Tom Durkin is one who I’ve never had the pleasure to say hello to and I just think he’s amazing. His work in the Breeders’ Cup and Triple Crown races and pretty much just every day on the NY circuit is just amazing. So many amazing racecalls. I’ve gotten chills so many times from listening to his work it’s just silly. Even though this race was so bittersweet, It’s still my go-to Tom Durkin call all things considered.
2. Go to a Breeders’ Cup
I’ve never really been a “Derby” guy. Whenever I tell people what I do for a living they usually ask if I’ve ever been to the Kentucky Derby. I never have. And if I don’t get to see one, honestly, it won’t bug me that much. I’ve been to Churchill Downs numerous times and even got to walk through the tunnel once. But the Breeders’ Cup has always been so special to me, and I’d love to be able to go watch those amazing two days of racing, preferably at Santa Anita.
3. Get mocked on twitter by Andy Serling
Andy Serling, the NY handicapper is one of the best at twitter. And sometimes I just love when he gets irritated by a member of his legion of followers. Now I could take the easy way out and just tweet him after a race won by a long shot and tell him that I had it as ‘redboarding’ is usually a surefire way to draw him out! But I’d like to think that someday I’ll make an opinion that I really believe strongly in and he’ll give me a wise-crack response! We west coasters are very sensitive to east coast folks who speak their minds so freely, and I used to be intimidated by the more aggressive speakers. But now I find myself really just respecting people who speak their mind and don’t take any crap. Andy rules.
4. Call a race at Santa Anita
Santa Anita’ s always been my “dream job” and like most dream jobs, it probably will always just remain a dream. I did get to hang out with Trevor Denman in the booth for a race one time and it was awesome. The view, the history and of course Trevor. I sat there watching him and it was just surreal. It was a maiden claimer and the best part was after the race Trevor turned around and said “Jason I’m sorry that terrible race was the one you had to see from up here, that was the worst race we’ve ever had here at Santa Anita.” I didn’t have the heart to tell him that any of those horses would have been stakes runners at the tracks I call at.
5. Own a horse that wins a race!
I’ve owned parts of three horses over the years. In late 2004 I claimed a horse named Global Arena with my friend Ben Root. He broke his maiden the day we claimed him and the whole drive home I was counting all the money that he was going to make us. Well a few weeks later, I drove down to Portland Meadows with some friends and Global Arena ran 7th, but only beaten three lengths. Well he never finished better than third in the 6 starts we had him. We finally sold him to a trainer for $800 who turned around and sold him to one of his owners for $1,500. I asked why he marked it up to his own owner and he said “Hey man, I gotta eat too!” The second horse we claimed was at Emerald Downs named Bay Wide Total. “Skippy” as we called him because of his peanut butter colored hair, was a tiny little open $5,000 claimer who gave his all everytime he ran. We only had him for 3 starts but he ran two thirds and a second for us, so we actually made a couple bucks when he got claimed back for the same price. The last horse I had we bought at the Washington sale for $6,000. Eduardo as he was named because my Uncle (who was the majority owner) really wanted a horse named Ed and Ed was already taken. Eduardo worked like a monster and we started him for $30,000 maiden claiming. I watched his debut at River Downs and he stalked the leader and started to inch up alongside. I was counting my money as he looked like a total winner. As they straightened away, Eduardo spit the bit and stopped like he was shot. Turns out Eduardo was really fast, for about 3.5 or 4 furlongs. Luckily we dropped him down to $7,500 and he got claimed so we got some of our $$$ back. So even though I’ve tried owning horses a few times, still looking for that elusive win. I don’t care if it’s a $2,000 claimer or a Grade 1 (Ok, the Grade 1 part would be pretty boss) I just want to win a race.
Part 2 will be posted soon.