Last Saturday, Derby Day, I got up to do some final handicapping at about 5 a.m. After taking my wonder dog Zoey for a brisk walk (it was cold and misty last Saturday, if you recall) I got back in the house, made myself some coffee, and sat down at the computer to read Daily Racing Form formulator past performances and watch some key races of horses entered at Churchill on Derby Day. I went up to Horsemen's at 7:45 ( HP opened last Saturday at 8 a.m. since first Churchill Downs post was at 9:30). By then, it was raining harder, and it was a cold rain. But I stood right outside the doors with a pack of fellow punters, ready to scamper in and get a couple tables saved.
When the security guard let us in, I along with everyone else hustled to secure a spot. And later that day, when I and a group of my best friends (who love horse racing almost as much as I do) were all chanting "OOORRRBBBB" in the minutes before the Derby, and when Dana Christensen, Erik Christensen, and I were all jumping up and down in unison pumping our fists as Orb blew by everyone else in the stretch-- like they were standing still--it was well worth a 5 a.m. wake-up and waiting outside in the freezing rain.
There is nothing like the excitement of a horse race. Even a televised horse race, which is after all what we were watching last Saturday, puts me on edge, followed by release, and a rush of adrenaline, as soon as the ponies spring from the gate. But that's still not comparable to being at a live horse race. Up next to the track, listening to the sounds as the gate crew loads the thoroughbreds, smelling the mixture of beer and Italian sausage and peppers from the outdoor food and beverage stands as you head out to the grandstand, yelling your fool head off as your horse surges or fades down the stretch. And you are right there to see it, feel it, taste it, and love it---live horse racing!
That's what Horsemen's Park has to offer this weekend, along with many other fun activities for everyone who comes to the track at 6303 Q Street. Post times are 6 p.m. for opening day, Friday May 10; 2 p.m. for Saturday, May 11; and 2 p.m. for Sunday, May 12. There are four races on Friday, five races on Saturday, and six races on Sunday. Entries are already posted for all three days, and there are full fields of 10 horses slated to run in 7 of the 15 races, fields of 9 in 4 races, and fields of 8, 7, 6, and 5 in the remaining four races.
You may wonder why I am telling you the number of horses in each race if you are new to this game, but if you are a grizzled racetrack veteran like me, you know that larger fields yield better gambling value, and I am guessing that a lot of my readers understand this and may be as happy as I am to hear that Horsemen's has mainly full fields for the races this weekend.
I am not going to give you any selections in my blog this week. Hey, I gave you the Derby winner, Orb, who paid 12.80 last Saturday! What more do you want? Well, if you do want my selections for the live races this weekend, you can get them. You will just have to pay $1 for them, if you purchase my Fred Sheet, or you can pay $1 for former AkSarBen and Oaklawn announcer and current Oaklawn handicapper Terry Wallace's tipsheet, Terry's Touts (or even better, buy both for $2!). All proceeds from these purchases go to a very good cause, the Dylan Krajicek Memorial Scholarship Fund, with a percentage of proceeds on Sunday, Mother's Day, going to the Susan G. Komen Fund to fight breast cancer. I will be selling the tipsheets, and Bonnie in the turf room will also be selling them, as well as a few other volunteers for the Krajicek Memorial Scholarship fund. But the main crew who will greet you in the parking lot, will be a group of hard working young women, Fred's Fillies, offering everyone a chance to purchase the top notch predictions of Terry Wallace and me. As an added bonus, Rob Tuel will add his longshots and best bet selections to Terry's Touts, and resident Horsemen's handicapping guru Mike Kratville will add the same to the Fred Sheet.
Activities at Horsemen's This Weekend
There are almost too many to list, but I'm going to give it a try.
Friday: The weekend kicks off with 4 races, including the feature race, the Falls Amiss Stakes, run at one mile, with a purse of $30000. Live music is provided in the Miller Lite beer garden and food court by Sound Bite. There will be a free t-shirt toss from the Miller Lite girls after every race. On Friday, two winners will be drawn to receive South Point Las Vegas prize packages, which award $500 cash, a 2 night suite stay, and $400 airfare courtesy of Team Rosso Real Estate of Omaha. Get out to Horsemen's after getting off work and start your weekend right.
Saturday: 5 races, including two features--The $30,000 Fantango Lady Stakes and the $30,000 Skunktail Stakes, both named in honor of two all-time great Nebraska-breds. Saturday will feature Z-92's Todd and Tyler 20th Anniversary Event, Camel and Ostrich races, and live music by Down to Here. And 2 more winners will be drawn for the Las Vegas prize package to South Point Casino. In addition, on Saturday, one of the greatest trainers of thoroughbreds ever, Jack Van Berg, will be at Horsemen's with co-author and former Fonner Park announcer, Chris Kotulak, signing his biography: "Jack Van Berg: From Grit to Glory." I got to see Jack Van Berg at Horsemen's a couple of years ago for one of the Saturday handicapping seminars; getting to meet a legend and great person like Jack Van Berg, who still loves his Nebraska roots in horse racing, was a fantastic experience.
Sunday: It's Mother's Day and there are lots of events to honor women: "Gallop for the Cure" for Susan G. Komen Nebraska, and 5 Mother's Day Prize Package drawings, with each prize package valued at $500. In addition, a drawing will be held to win a Budweiser VIP package for 2 to St. Louis July 19-21, which includes airfare and hotel, as well as a VIP tour of the Budweiser brewery and tickets for a Cardinals/Brewers ball game. Live music will be provided by High Heel and the Sneakers in the Miller Lite Beer Garden. The feature race is the $30,000 Who Doctor Who Handicap, named for perhaps the greatest Nebraska-bred ever to race, Herb Riecken's amazing sprinter who earned over $800,000 in his illustrious career.
There's simply nothing not to like! Come to Horsemen's, have a great time, jump up and down, yell for your horse, cash some tickets, eat some great food, have some refreshing drinks--simply have fun this weekend at Horsemen's Park!