|My Grandmother Rose (sitting in the front with the white dress), we called her Bubbie Rose..with my Aunts and Uncles, her brothers and sisters. Shirley, Mel and Jack.|
Back when I started to go to the horse races, I noticed that almost all racehorses were bay in color. A bay horse is basically a light brown horse. A dark bay is basically a dark brown horse.
|Artsplace, a very striking bay horse and also one of the greatest race horses and stallions of all time.|
Even though many of my family, on my mothers side were into the horse races, I was never interested in it growing up. I grew up in Montreal and the route from my house to my grandmother, Eva, my fathers mother passed by Blue Bonnets, with its flashing sign by the side of the road..I never went in.
|This is not the exact sign. They tore that down when they renamed the track, which is now closed. It had more of a Broadway show look back then.|
|The orange Julep, which is still there in Montreal. We used to go there and you would order from those little booths and then drive around back and get your order. Best Orange drink anywhere. Cannot be duplicated.|
When I was about 18, my best friend, Mark Jadd took me out to dinner. To this point I still had never been to the horse races. After dinner he kept mentioning that he wanted to go. I resisted strongly, all night, but he kept pushing and I gave in. It was a beautiful hot summer night and I will say I did end up enjoying it very much.
|My friends Eric Rubel..to my right..and Mark Jadd..to my left..at high school graduation.|
About the fifth or sixth time I attended the races it was a very hot summer night. I took my grandmother, who had always loved the races. That was a tradition in our family. My great grandfather, her father had always gone to the races. Even when he was older and in a nursing home, well into his nineties, he would sneak out and go to Greenwood. My father would have to go and find him, and he always knew where to look. When my great grandfather died, in his suit coat pocket were hundreds of losing betting tickets. He also always wore a suit. He was born and lived in a time when men did that when they went out. He also had the fedora hat.
|My great grandfather (Zaida) Hymie..in the brown suit in the center shortly before he passed away.Roughly 1980.|
|It was not uncommon to see crowds like this at Woodstock Raceway back in the 1940's and 1950's|
|Triple S was dark black and shiny like this horse.|
|Exhibition Stadium..where we saw many games with my Grandmother.|
|Fan Hanover winning a big stakes race at Greenwood Raceway, where I took my grandmother most of the time to watch the races.|
It seemed every Friday night a horse named Transtar would race. As black as Triple S was, Transtar was pure white. Not grey, like many horses, but totally white. For a racehorse that is almost unheard of. And he was a good horse too. Not the best horse at the track, but among the better ones.
The guys that I sat with on Friday nights hated Transtar. He would never win. He was always second or third when he was in contention. I had followed him since that first time I noticed him. It was always dark by the time he raced and the track lights shined off his white coat. This one night, he was 15-1 and everyone said he had no chance. But I decided to bet him anyway. Of course, he did win that night, and it was his only win all year. For whatever reason, I always liked him but never bet him after that night. It was a feeling that it was meant to be that night. And..he didn't win by much that night either.
|Transtar was white, very white, just as this horse is.|
I didn't have a great car in those days, so Vince let me drive his brand new Toyota Camry when we went on longer trips to farther tracks. It was a very fast car and it was also white. When I got my first good car after I started working, I got the equivalent of a Camry, which was a Chevy Lumina. Mine was dark black. I have always loved black cars and a popular song at that time was Black Cars by Gino Vanelli.
We had settled on buying a yearling, a young horse but could not find one that met our budget and approval. At that first sale we went to, we tried to buy a young filly, by a hot young sire named Willow Wiper. The fillies name was Arresting. She went for $20,000 and we only wanted to pay $15,000. So we let her go.
Two years later when we bought our first horse together, we bought a filly named Come By Chance. She was a steady good horse. Not spectacular, but she always made money and raced well. She was second in our first two races and had exceeded even our expectations. But as close as she was, she just never seemed to win, much like Transtar. Many nights we went with high hopes for a win, only to be second or third.
One time, we seemed to be a sure winner and right to the wire it looked that way only to be beaten by a nose in a very long photo. Finally, one weeknight, after work I went to watch her race. She looked ok enough to win, but I did not get my hopes up. As they were heading to the finish, she was ahead but barely ahead and in a group of 5 or 6 horses. As they hit the finish, she just barely held on. My first win as an owner. All my friends that I had made at the track over the years were sitting near me and they all congratulated me. One of horses in that race was Arresting, the filly that we didn't end up buying at the yearling sale. It would seem that was one of my greatest moments as an owner. But it wasn't.
|Come By Chance, her first win for us. Vince Li is in the dark suit, just beside the driver.|
It was bright and sunny when we got to the track but dark by the time the race went off. The horse didn't look like she was doing well as she was usually a frontrunner and this time she was racing from behind. For whatever reason, the driver, Trevor Ritchie must have figured out that was a better racing style for her as she was in position at the top of the stretch and then just rocketed by the whole field in one shot and won easy, by many lengths. After that race she was in a racing accident and was never the same race horse, but that night was her best race for us.
My grandmother, by this time, was not that mobile. So, getting her to the winners circle in time for the picture was going to be tricky. Vince looked at me and told me they would wait. He knew how much it meant to me..and to her. He was good like that. Vince took care of his friends and family. While he and his wife, Rosita, made their way to the winners circle, I took my grandmothers hand and led her there.
In all those years of going to the racetrack my grandmother had never owned a horse and never been in the winners circle. I know how much that night meant to her to be able to finally do that, with her grandson's horse. I have many great memories from my years of racing, but that is still my favorite moment.
Come By Chance was a shiny bay horse. Triple S was a dark shiny black horse. Transtar was a beautiful majestic, pure, white horse. They all looked quite different but they all brought me great memories.
I learned a lot from my racing days, both as a fan, and owner and a trainer.
In the end, it doesn't matter what color a horse is..or a person is. A horse is a horse and a person is a person.
It doesn't matter if you are black or white. Or Chinese. Or older. Or younger. Good times are good times.
I never really knew a Chinese person before I met Vince Li, but a few years later I met and married my wife, who is also Chinese and also from Hong Kong.
In my black and white world I have learned that all kinds of people have learned to live to together.
"Ebony and Ivory live together in perfect harmony".