Tag Archives: River Downs

BetPTC.com Horses to Watch – 9/3/16

Horses to Watch – Ed Meyer

Hearing the word Labor Day as a young racing fan meant the end of summer. Going back to school, no more days at the track with grandpa, and the tanned skin on my face and arms would soon fade away. –  I would look back over the sweet summer days with endless joy as they would culminate with a blowout to be held at River Downs. The Cradle Stakes was for up-and-coming two-year-olds. – It was the end of one chapter, and the beginning of another with my first local glimpse of what could be the following season.  The pungent aroma of cheap cigars, and the inky hands one could only get from reading the Daily Racing Form. – When Labor Day rolls around Monday, I’ll have a lifetime of fond memories tagging along with me to the races. – In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for theses red-hot runners. They have a good excuse, and could offer up a solid price at the windows.

Saratoga

8/24/16 – Race #3 – #4 – 6f on the dirt

#4 – Phocea – She broke last under Eric Cancel and came flying late in the lane. Her late punch was a real eye-opener and if she improves just a smidge off this effort she’ll be heading to the winner’s circle.

8/24/16 – Race #4 – #9 – 5 1/2f on the turf

#9 – Peace Points – The rider was forced to steady as soon as the gates broke, and Kendrick Carmouche was “ping-ponged” around quite a bit. – After gathering his bearings he darted in and out and swung five wide closing like a down-bound train. – This guy deserves a good hard look before you pull the trigger next out.

Saratoga

8/27/16 – Race #2 – #6 – 1 1/8 on the turf

#6 – Kabang – Jose Ortiz for Michael Trombetta they were off a beat slow leaving the starting gate. Once Ortiz caught up and had the field in sight he made a solid bid to finish up in 5th place. – Maybe a little better trip will be what the doctor ordered and you can look ahead for (10-1) or better.

8/27/16 – Race #5 – #6 – 1 3/8th’s on the turf

#6 – Deeply Undervalued – Irad Ortiz in the irons for Chad Brown and they broke outward leaving the starting gate and caused some bumping around. – Once Ortiz got his mount under control he made a strong late bid to finish a beaten favorite second. Maybe a little less ground, or just another shot a clear beginning. Either way, he’ll give them fits at Belmont or elsewhere next time out.

Belterra Park

8/28/16 – Race #1 – #5 – 6f on the dirt

#5 – Equulei – Geovany Garcia was aboard and had to check hard into the first turn. Once he had his filly back in gear, they made a sustained bid to show good promise next out.

8/28/16 – Race #7 – #2 – 1 mile on the turf

#2 – Run Groom Run – Alex Estrada picked up the mount and checked so hard into the first turn he stood straight up in the irons. – The rider tried many times to settle and was forced to check, wait for a gap, and once saw a glimmer of daylight was a day late and dollar short getting his cue for clear sailing. He was (12-1) on this day beaten in the shadow of the wire by a Calumet Farm runner. He’ll be double tough next time out at a square price.

The New Bucket List

There are marquee tracks everyone wants to visit and then there’s the others.  I understand why fans make a trek to the big tracks, they showcase the best the game has to offer.  But you may be surprised what the small tracks have to showcase. Just like the rental car commercial 50 years ago. The small ovals are Avis, and the marquee venues are Hertz. Both have cars to rent, and both serve your needs. But just like the tagline in the commercial; “Avis, we try harder.”

I’ve ventured to both in my travels. The big tracks have never failed to amaze and delight. The smaller tracks have a down-to-earth feel that wraps around you as you walk through the doors. If you’re a race trBetPTC logoack kid who tagged along with Dad or Gramps to the races. You remember the sights, the sounds, and the smells. Hoards of gamblers hunkered over racing programs as loud speakers announced minutes-to-post. Patrons would stand in lines making  wagers with the unforgettable scent of cheap cigars wafting through the air.   There was only one place in the world you could experience this melting pot of humanity.

River Downs was a little oval outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. The meet would begin in late April and end with the running of the Cradle Stakes on Labor Day.  Long ago it went by the name Coney Island Race Track; the same as the amusement park next store  The famous Seabiscuit made two appearances in 1936, and the flood of 1937 finally washed away the Coney Island oval.  The track returned under the new banner of River Downs, and the rest is a rich storied history.

Larger tracks have box seating areas where you had to purchase seats in advance. River Downs had an open air grandstand where you could grab a seat where you liked.  The larger tracks had marquee riders on the way up the ladder, riding the best of the day. Smaller tracks have a colony of rough and ready riders trying to break into the game, and, sometimes, big name jockeys on their way back down.  The horses at marquee ovals are some of the best in the land where the small ovals have cheap claimers.  Both are exciting, and each has their own special charm.

River Downs had events like wiener dog summer nationals, boxing matches, pig races, local music festivals and baby pageants.   There were track logo t-shirts on Mother’s Day, and cap giveaways on Father’s Day. As I reach in my pocket there is a money clip with a race horse and rider.   It’s at least 30-years-old and was a giveaway item from the little track.

The big tracks have handicapping shows where the talent is decked out in shirt and tie and discuss the races.   River Downs had an outside set located behind a bar, and “The Regular Guy” handicapping show talked about racing from the little Ohio track.  It was for the regular folks in the grandstand who enjoyed some good handicapping info with a great deal of fun. Sometimes the best fan education involves having a good laugh to start the day.

I had the opportunity to work for River Downs. I started in the parking lot many moons ago, and 15 years later I would return as director of marketing. The smaller track was a springboard for many, and if you look back at the history of River Downs. You’ll find out the great Seabiscuit ran there twice; Steve Cauthen rode his first winner aboard Red Pipe in 1976, and in 1984 Spend A Buck won the Cradle Stakes and went on to win the Kentucky Derby.   It’s fair to say that many horseplayers and fan have good reasons to love the little track.

I’ve visited big tracks and watched marquee events captivate the world.  They will always be on my list to see and experience as they have raised the bar for others to aspire.  Small tracks have a special charm and rich history that is passed down from generation to generation.

I have a bevy of small tracks that hold a special place in my heart. Places named Beulah, Lebanon, and Louisville Downs. They have all played a part in my love affair with horse racing, and as long as they open the doors I’ll make the drive.  The days of “build it and they will come” are long gone. Racing was the stand alone heavy weight champ of betting, and there wasn’t as much competition for gambling dollar.  It seems as though we are losing these little gems in the passing years. Places like Bowie, Calder, Great Lakes Downs, and Rockingham Park just to name a few.

Do yourself a favor if you’re a racing fan. Make your next trip to a small oval, county fair, or boutique meet. I think you’ll fall in love all over again, and, before you know it, you’ll be making plans for your next trip.

— Ed Meyer is a track announcer at Belterra Park.   He worked long stints at both River Downs and Turfway Park.

BetPTC.com – Horses to Watch – 5/31/16

Horses to Watch – Ed Meyer

As we gather around with family and friends today, let us remember and thank the many brave men and women who have sacrificed for our country.  – Memorial Day was the “unofficial” start of summer when I was a young boy. Our family would gather under the large oak tree at River Downs to enjoy a picnic lunch and watch the races. Of course we would have attended the town parade in my small town prior, and watched as my grandfather proudly walked in step with the many brave men from our hometown. It was the best of times to grow up, and seeing the pride in their faces only made me more proud. Have a safe Memorial Day, and keep your eyes peeled for good things to come !

Indiana Grand

5/25/16 – Race #3 – #1 – 6f on the dirt

#1 – More Red Roses = Fernando De La Cruz in the irons for Denis Cluey, and they have a gal in their barn who needs a good bet next out. – She trailed the pack for 3/4 of the race and started making good headway around the far turn. She was moving very well along the rail and encountered a bit of trouble getting a clean trip. Next time out she’ll seal the deal !

Indiana Grand

5/25/16 – Race #4 – #8 – 1 1/16 on the turf

#8 – Miz Liz = James Graham was in from Chicago for Christophe Clement, and she was forced to steady sharply multiple times during the race. Once she looked be under way she was “smashed” in between quitting runners and forced her to take off heels. Bet with confidence next time to the races.

Gulfstream

5/25/16 – Race #5 – #7 – 1 1/16 on the turf

#7 – Turkomani = Emisael Jaramillo had a nice runner ready to score. He moved his mount smartly along the rail to save ground and at the 1/4 and was forced to check sharply to avoid running up on heels. He found some daylight against the rail and dove over to save ground, but it was a little too late as the gap was slammed shut forcing him to take hold of his mount.

Belmont

5/26/16 – Race #4 -#2 – 7f on the dirt

#2 – Howie’s Tiz = Angel Arroyo had the call and settled his runner out nicely. He made a game move and tangled horns with the a bear from the David Jacobson barn who was the big chalk. He was forced to be second on this day, and next time out he’ll give them fits down the lane.

Belterra Park

5/28/16 – Race #7 – #3 – 1 mile on the dirt

#3 – Silent Secret = Geovany Garcia’s mount had his head turned in the starting gate and spotted the field about 20 lengths once the latch was sprung. It looked as if all hope was gone until he started flying down the backstretch and finished a quick finish third beaten only one length. The best part is he was facing a very tough speed bias and still overcame the poor start. He won’t be a secret at the windows next out.