I was thinking about my dad the other day when I happened to be in the sports book and overheard a conversation about a Kentucky Derby contender named Atswhatimtalknbout. You just had to be there to hear what these guys were calling this horse, it was hilarious.
It reminded me of my dad who never called a horse by its correct name. My dad was a dedicated horse player, who never missed a night at the track. In those days it was Waterford Park, now called Mountaineer Park, located in the small West Virginia town of Chester.
Either me or my brother drove the 22 miles from my Ohio home in Steubenville since my dad never had a driver’s license. The drive took about 20 minutes unless you got stopped by the local fuzz on Rt. 2. That was their hangout.
My dad never had a lot of success at the track, but just loved to be there. He was mostly a numbers player, who played a 356 box in all the tri’s and just hoped for lightning to strike. Dad believed you couldn’t hit the big one reading the racing form. His big one came in the most unexpected way.
After retiring and selling his restaurant, Broadway Bennies, he would run horse bets up to the track for several cronies. Dad earned a small fee for his trouble and an additional 10 percent if he collected a signer.
The local Eagles club was a regular stop. This one guy there always sent in his favorite numbers for the trifectas. This one day we get to the track and Bennie said to me, "Cue Ball wasn’t there for the first time in two years. I hope nothing is wrong. I think I will put his bets in just in case, and collect tomorrow. Then we waited for the results after the 11 o’clock news.
At home, my dad starts screaming. There was one winning ticket and he had it. While the whole family was going back and forth on what was the right thing to do, the phone rang. It was no other than "The Q." His words were, "Well, wouldn’t you know it, as soon as I decided to quit those ponies my number hits. I’ll never bet another horse as long as I live."
And, he didn’t. It turned out to be the biggest trifecta payoff in the history of Waterford.
The moral is if you play the ponies, never quit. You just never know, Atswhatimtalknbout.