Power Cap

Power cap- existential handicapping

19 January 2009

Stuff People Say At The Track

On Saturday I went down to Aqueduct for the afternoon. After handicapping the card I was looking forward to the seventh race where my key horse for the day was running. It was a bitterly cold day with temps in the teens and windchills near zero. A day where the trainers. grooms and jockeys earned every dollar they won.

The wagering highlight of the day loomed in the seventh race, this is the race that would make or break my day. Saint Daimon had a great chance to win and would be a price. This was a great betting race on account that the odds on favorite had only a small chance to win and was being bet by the crowd due to some winning consecutive races at minor league Suffolk downs many months ago. Today the favorite Palmer's Approach was facing older stakes winners, real hard knockers many class levels above what he has ever faced, it is rare to find such a vulnerable heavy bet favorite in New York where the crowd is on-point so much of the time.

Looking forward to the race and with so much of the bankroll riding on Saint Daimon I wanted to go to the paddock and eyeball the horses, especially since the key horse was running off a June layoff. Another reason for heading down there was to share some words of encouragement with my favorite jockey, the cagey vetern Jean-luc Samyn who has been riding in the New York area for 33 years. Samyn is a jockey that started riding before the opening of Giants stadium in New Jersey and will likely remain a local sports icon while Giants Stadium feels the sting of the wrecking ball in the near future. This is like Babe Ruth playing on while Yankee Stadium is destroyed or Julius Caesar outreigning the Collasieum. Samyn is a monument to self preservation and passion for the game, a Jockey who has been a stalwart of the circuit since the mid 1970's. Saint Daimon looked great in the paddock and Jean-Luc Samyn looked like he was freezing on his only mount of the day. When we called out to Samyn he looked strait ahead and ignored us.

The race unfolded just like a suspected it would, Saint Daimon pressed the pace, outdueled the 3-4 chalk Palmers Approach and drew off in the lane to score at 9-1. Not only was it a great win but the price was tremendous especially in the multi race exotics. So when Jean-Luc Samyn guided Saint Daimon back to the winners circle me and my boy gave Samyn a warm welcome with shouts of "you the man" and SAMYN!!. Jean-Luc did not look up and acknowledge our calls.

While were showering Jean-Luc with praise for not only setting up a huge score for us but for risking his life in zero degree weather another fan entered the area near the paddock. This other fan was just as vocal as me and my partner but had a different opinion. This gambler emerged from the grandstand like he was shot out of a cannon just as Saint Daimon was getting his picture taken. This gambler dispensed a verbal cluster bomb directed at Samyn and Saint Daimon. He was a working class Italian American man about 60 years old, reasonably dressed in casual slacks and a full head of hair dark hair. This fan exploded with a a barrage of obscenity launched at Samyn. The tirade was the verbal equivalent of a cluster bomb. This guy blasted Samyn with how he never wins a f*%3ing race (it was Samyns first win of the year), moved on to how everyone that bets on Samyn loses all their motherloving money, how Samyn is a f&%$ing stiff and it was about time that he got paid off from Samyn's f#^!ng mount. Samyn is 52 years old, just risked his life so we could make a huge score in brutally cold weather and he had to take a huge amount of verbal abuse when the race was over. The brutality of racing was on full display.

Now I know why Samyn does not engage with the fans at the Big-A. The abuse from the degenerates is raw, powerful and mean. Right then and there I understood why racing can not attract a big crowd on a non-tv race day. If malls are roamed by poodles, baseball games attended by Boston Terriers, football fans are mutts, racing is attended by Pit Bulls. The most dangerous of dogs. The racing fan degenerates are brutal and it is frequent public verbal tirades that keeps the upstanding type people far away. I really felt bad for Samyn after absorbing that abuse, but as someone that has been at the track for decades I am sure he took it in stride as part of the game. Racing is real and the and the bad is not euphemized and hidden away. While this rawness may be unique it is not a huge selling point prompting the masses to pour into the track.


Managed Risk said...


Nice article...it's the sad reality of the few nuts in atendance.

Years ago I used to make some nice hits when Samyn use to hang around for a late race after a mount in an early race @ Belmont. He had a boat and used to like to go out in the warmer days.Ah the inside info angle paid off.

Keep up the good writing

Anonymous said...

I've been going to the track since before I could walk and have seen every type of degenerate behavior and I still say that the worst behavior at sports events are at NFL games. I've seen games in Chicago and NY and the fan-on-fan abuse, drunkery and fighting is on some scary level stuff that is not anywhere near as bad as anything I've ever seen at the many tracks I've been to.

The stuff that has been going on for years at halftime in the coils at Giants Stadium is as unruly as any human behavior. Yet the NFL is easily the most popular sport in this country.