The Thrill of Racing

Slim Randles is here again as my Wednesday’s Guest with a piece about a day at the races. I’ve enjoyed going to horse races and even had a short – very short – career as an exercise rider for a man who raised thoroughbreds in Michigan. My career was not cut short because I couldn’t do the job. I could ride just fine, and there is nothing in the world – at least my world – to match the feeling of being on a horse who is running at a full gallop. The issue was the fact that the man was a very small-time owner/trainer with only three horses and not a lot of money. 

His son took my job.

Still, it was fun while it lasted, and if I close my eyes I can still imagine the feel of the wind in my face and hear the thunder of hooves digging into the dirt. The photo below is courtesy of Janice L. Blake, a rider who has had a much longer career exercising racehorses. Who also went on to get a jockey’s license. She has ridden in, and won more than a few, races on tracks in Atlantic City, Belmont Park, Charles Town, Colonial Downs, Delaware Park, Finger Lakes, Laurel Park, Monmouth Park, Mountaineer, Penn National, Pimlico, Presque Isle Downs, and Saratoga.

Janice L. Blake exercising horses at a track near Chicago.

Now here is Slim and a few of his friends.

A bunch of us went to the races up in the city the other day. Windy won a little, but the rest of us just kinda broke even, and we got to yell and cheer, so I guess that can cost two bucks without hamstringing the entire regiment. It was fun.

And we ran into Brock Bullingham there, too, who had a horse entered in a maiden race. Brock’s place is about 20 miles north of the city, and he runs horses and cattle on a huge acreage. He told us proudly what the horse was called so we could cheer for him, and off they went. Brock’s horse went to the lead and stayed there. He gathered up even more of a lead on the backstretch and finished about 15 lengths ahead of the second-place horse.

He went down to the winner’s circle and we went along for the fun. The track stewards, however, showed up none too pleased.

“Brock, you say that horse is eight years old?”

“Shore is.”

“Well, if you have a horse that can run like that, why is he just now in a maiden race?”

Brock grinned, “Couldn’t catch him ‘til he was seven.”

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Brought to you by new book The Fly Fisherman’s Bucket List. Look for it at

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Slim Randles writes a nationally syndicated column, “Home Country” that is featured in 380 newspapers across the country. He is also the author of a number of books including  Saddle Up: A Cowboy Guide to Writing. That title, and others, are published by  LPD Press. If you enjoy his columns here on the blog, you might want to check out the book Home Country. It features some of the best of the columns he has shared with us.

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