Beemie Award for Best Photo to Photoshop goes to @zenyattamafia!

Breeders’ Cup not only brings together the best horses, trainers, and jockeys together in one place, it also brings all of the best photographers!!  One of those great photographers is Emily Shields (@zenyattamafia) who captured Gun Runner coming into the paddock in this shot.  Only…..Gun Runner so ended up not being the reason this photo was so great.


Steve’s hair, as it tends to do….completely steals the show.  It’s been amazing for years now, but this particular photo, with the Del Mar ocean breeze blowing through his flowing locks, it’s just perfect.  It was also perfect for photoshop, so thanks Emily and congrats on your 1st Beemie!


I’m King of the Breeders’ Cup




And finally, if this isn’t the greatest thing ever, I don’t know what is.


Beemie Award for Best Twitter Hiatus goes to @kaitlinefree


Ahhhh the twitter hiatus.  “I’m taking the rest of the day, week, month, forever off twitter.”   We see it all the time, and NOBODY ever stays away.  Twitter is a drug of the strongest power.

Twitter can be stressful when tragedies unfold cause there’s so much going on in every direction.  Shootings, bombings, elections, all very stressful on social media.  So on October 2nd, the day after the horrendous Las Vegas shooting, Kaitlin decided she needed to get off twitter for the day.  Totally understandable, I often will do the same after tragedies.

So she tweeted out she was going to be off twitter for the rest of the day.  I imagine she put her phone away after sending it and was ready to go about the rest of her day.   But then….ONLY SIX MINUTES LATER……Kaitlin was back.  The urge of posting a cute cat photo proved just too much of a lure to get her back into the craziness of twitter.   So for that complete lack of social media self imposed discipline, Kaitlin is taking home a Beemie!


Beemie Award for Favorite Picture of the Year goes to @danonymousman and @giacomo926


“Dan, I hope your first child, is a masculine child”

I love this photo for 100 different reasons.  Ever since it came out (Photographer unknown, if anyone knows would love to credit her or him) I’ve played “caption this” with it 100 times.

Let’s start with Dan on the right.  We all know Dan as the bow-tied leader of equestricon and promoting horse racing.  In this picture we find out that Dan is also the leader of the Queens Crime Family.  The jacket is great, but he’s keeping it casual with the shirt.  The shades are genius and I would guess he got them from a sporting goods store bustout.  Then there’s the smirk.  It kills me.  Also, what message did he just get on the phone?  My guess is he just got a text that someone he wanted “taken care of” just got their due!  This scene would be perfect in any Scorsese movie.

Now to Geno.  My friend Raider Mike once told me Geno was “The most New York guy in the world.”   In my mob captions of this photo, Geno is almost always Luca Brasi.  The enforcer.  Geno is either giving Dan a 10/1 Ryerson horse he likes or letting him know that “you know that thing we talked about, yeah we don’t gotta worry about that no more.”

What the photo really is, is a classic shot of two friends at the track.  It makes me smile every time I see it so it’s now a Beemie Award winner!

Beemie Award for Someone Missed the Joke goes to @reidy765

So I’ve always said that I’m not eligible for a Beemie Award.  However that doesn’t mean that someone replying to me can’t!  This was from the Keeneland fall meet and their handle and the boycott were under the microscope.  Keeneland’s handle that particular day was down quite a bit.  One of my favorite things to do on twitter is to talk about Portland Meadows as though it’s the most important track in America.  So I made this post, that I thought was absolutely dripping with sarcasm that Portland running this year was the obvious reason that Keeneland handle was down.  Well Tom disagreed.


Tom clearly missed the joke, but honestly that last line put it over the top from missing the joke to just being simply hilarious.  I laughed for a minimum of 8  minutes after he sent this.   He followed it up shortly afterwards with just one more response.


Tom, you may have lost respect for me, but after these great tweets, you are a Beemie Award winner!!

Beemie Award for Most Awkward Compliment goes to Todd Schrupp & @eze12373


Todd’s a “big” guy apparently

I had the pleasure of meeting Todd at the Breeders’ Cup this year and he was such a pleasure to talk to.  But when I did meet him, this tweet was all I could think about.

This was from April and Todd and the gang from TVG were over at Keeneland doing their wall to wall coverage.  Well apparently Todd used the restroom and Eric saw him and decided to let Todd and the world know about the exchange.  Todd, always humble, thanked him.

This exchange really wouldn’t have been awkward if the word bathroom hadn’t been added in, but once it was, all I can think of is this scene from Ace Ventura.


Your gun is digging into my hip

So congratulations to Todd and Eric for winning the Beemie Award for the Most Awkward Compliment!!

Portland Meadows season

So the Summer has turned to Fall, which can mean only one thing, no more heat!  But also means it’s time for Portland Meadows to open up.  Sloppy tracks, $2000 claimers, Javier Matias winning three a day, there’s nothing like it.  The track opens up on Monday and got me thinking about my time there as I actually am in Portland right now writing this.  The city has changed a bit, but overall it still seems very familiar.  This was home from 2008 to 2014 as well as a the winters of 2006 and 2007.  Lots of moving during that time, lots of Russell Street BBQ, and lots of memories, good and bad.

The announcers booth at PM is a rickety shack on top of an old building.  It moves a lot when people walk down the hallway.  In my mind’s eye I can still remember a lot of the times up there.  But now a couple of years removed from announcing, I do feel like I’m forgetting a little bit of what it looked like through the binoculars to call a race.  I’ve kind of put to bed the idea of racecalling anymore as I just think it’s not a great fit for me in a number of ways.  I do feel like I was good at it and I have some great memories of doing it, particularly at Portland Meadows.

I called my first race ever in that booth.  6th race on January 8, 2006 I believe it was.  A Colt Named Sue got the win for my good friend Ben Root.  I called about 8 more races that winter and was hired at River Downs.  By the time the River meet was ending in 2006, Portland offered me the job to be the announcer there.  I was 6 months into my announcing career and had near year round work.   I remember my first day in 2006 as the full time announcer being much more confident than I had been when ‘Sue won back in January.  I was still pretty green though.  I think I settled into stride as a racecaller about 5 years in.  I think it really does take that long to find your voice and really get confident in what you’re doing.

I remember 2009 Opening day and Kruger Park winning the Inaugural, although I didn’t call the race.  I was starting to have bad panic attacks around then and basically had a meltdown after about the 7th race.  Our racing Secretary came upstairs and called the last two, including the feature.  I missed a couple of days and came back.  My first day back I was almost through the last race when the panic attacks came back.  I started to walk down the hall, I called the racing secretary up, and I was ready to honest to god quit.  I stopped, took a deep breath, and knew I’d regret it if I did.  I got through that day and turned things around.  That was such a small moment in time, but at the time, was a HUGE moment for me.

I just looked up the charts for 2010 and 2011 for opening day and don’t recall much from those opening days.  They must have gone ok 🙂  2012 and 2013 Portland shifted to a summer meet, which everyone said would be a disaster, but kind of only was half a disaster.  Locally, on Friday nights, it was really fun.  Big crowds, racing under the (terrible) lights, it was a blast.  By this time I had stopped working at Portland Meadows full time and was now just the announcer.  I must be the only idiot who gives up a year round, salary, benefits, racing job because of anxiety.  Oh the stress of working at the track.  But it was what it was.

2014 was my last year at Portland Meadows, and in all honesty, probably my best.  I was working with a trainer, lost some weight, was feeling good, and it showed in my announcing.  I was really back in love with it.  That’s when the Louisiana Downs job came up and I was feeling so good I wanted to push myself and give it a try.   Leaving Portland Meadows then really did feel right.  They were down to like 39 days a year, LaD was 130.  But also I just felt ready to move on from there.  I remember the goodbyes being pretty emotional.  People were so nice to me there.  I’d been a part of that community for 9 years and really loved the people there.

But man, I can list a million things that happened while I was at Portland Meadows.  I was 25 when I arrived there and 34 when I left.  So much changed for me, but the people there make that place a great place.  I know the racing isn’t much on the quality side of things, but I was always so proud to be the voice of Portland Meadows.  Really proud.

Last totally random PM story.  The announcer who was there about a decade before I got there, Jim Sorenson.  I never met him, and really didn’t hear many of his calls.  But our equibase guy would always tell me stories about him.  He’d always say when a horse was out front “Out there a couple a three”.  And that always made me laugh as a way to say 2 or 3 lengths.  When I was warming up the fields, I almost always would say “he’s out there a couple a three” and amuse myself.