“At Least I Got Some Autographs”
Whenever I flash back to the Summer of 2008, I’m instantly riding that roller coaster again. It was an extremely emotional ride conducted by a horse named Big Brown.
Sadly, my lasting memory was trying to find the horse, or any flash of the red #1 he wore on Belmont Day. My search for the colt ended when he stumbled across the finish line last and I stumbled off a crowded grandstand bench, which I’d balanced myself on for at least the prior 2:29.65.
Another Triple Crown dream shattered – the half-conscious teens and 20-somethings, who’d spilled their beers on me while hanging on the same bench, didn’t seem phased. For me, it wasn’t a pleasant memory.
Just three weeks earlier, the ride had hit an incredible high when Big Brown dominated the Preakness Stakes, his nearest competitor no closer than 5-lengths away. What I also remember from that weekend, aside from making up an excuse to miss work in South Carolina so that I could make it to Baltimore, was what happened the day before: Black-Eyed Susan Day.
For hardened gamblers, the story of how I hit an early Trifecta, only to leave the $850 voucher in a machine later in the day, would seem all too predictable. But it happened. And it sucked.
However, if you’re going to play this game and love this game, you have to find the silver lining on days as grey as Tapit. I still keep my silver lining from May 16, 2008, in a frame hanging on a wall in the guest room of my home. Inside the frame, is a poster that was handed out at the track that morning. Pimlico had arranged for a great collection of jockeys to sign the posters before race time.
I remember calling my dad at the end of the day and telling him about the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the lost voucher. Before he could get too worked up, I remember interjecting with a semi-sarcastic, “hey, at least I got some autographs!” I then proceeded to list off the names of the riders you see below.
Take a look at the photos and see how many of the jockeys you can identify by their signatures.
That’s all for this initial posting of “Memories & Memorabilia.” I encourage you to share similar stories and photos on this site. I can’t wait to hear from you. – Dan