A good Monday morning to you all! Hope everyone had a good Whitney weekend and cashed some tickets. I took a Friday day trip up to Washington D.C. and got to see the White House for the first time, along with the Washington Monument. Other than the 159% humidity, it was a very fun trip, and I’m glad I took the time to see those historical places.
After D.C., I drove another 40 minutes north to Laurel Park to take in a Friday at the races. I got to visit for a bit with my friend and colleague Dave Rodman upstairs before heading back down to the main level to have a nice lunch and watch the early races. Before Race 5, I noticed that trainer Phil Schoenthal had a horse in that race. I’ve had Phil on my show and have traded messages with him on social media, but have never had the chance to say hello in person.
The paddock at Laurel is kind of hidden around the side, so I went to find Phil out front where it seems most of the horsemen gather to watch the races. His horse, Wish Me Home, took some early money but floated up to 5-1 at the off. As they broke, I asked Phil where he wanted to be and he said, “We should be closer up today.” Well, sure enough as they passed by us, Wish Me Home found a comfy spot in second, stalking a longshot leader.
So before I continue on with the story of the race, let me share a backstory. A while back on Twitter, I had posted a video about all the different ways race fans “root” their horse home. Phil responded to that with the following story about one of his owners, which cracked me up.
Ok now back to Friday. As they came into the stretch, jockey Forest Boyce put Wish Me Home on the lead and quickly had a two-length lead. Phil was snapping and hollering. I was screaming. The owners were yelling. As they passed the eighth pole, I let it fly. “ICE CREAM ON THE HIGHWAY!” Phil turned his head to me, gave me a big grin, and proceeded to holler out his own, “ICE CREAM ON THE HIGHWAY!”
With 50 yards left to go, the closers were coming. But Wish Me Home and Forest dug in and held on to win by half a head. Phil invited me down to the winner’s circle to celebrate the win with them and get into the picture.
It was a great reminder of a few things. One, just how fun it is to be back on the rail for a horse race. Ninety-five percent of the time when I’m at the track, I’m up on the roof in my announcer’s booth. And while I have an amazing view and love my job, it’s still so fun on occasion to be down on the rail. I will always be a railbird. The other thing that was so fun about it was really rooting a horse home. The “How I Root” video I did was seen by most as poking fun at rooters, but the reality is, it was meant more as a tribute. Watching people scream home a winner with all the different ways that they do it will never not be entertaining to me. It’s absolutely one of the great things that comes with betting or participating in a horse race.