When Good Horseplayers Go Bad – Part 4

By Ray Wallin

I have highlighted some outrageous horseplayer behavior in the first three parts of this series:

When Good Horseplayers Go Bad Part 1

When Good Horseplayers Go Bad Part 2

When Good Horseplayers Go Bad Part 3

But there are always more hilarious examples of horseplayers in action to be found on the internet. So whether you are a part-time handicapper or if you make your living playing the races, there is always time for a good laugh.

If you spend enough time visiting different tracks you find an amazing array of entertaining horseplayers. I think back to time I spent visiting Delaware Park in the early 2000’s.

At the time I was a partner in a handicapping service website that is long defunct. I would make an annual trek down to Delaware Park during their opening weekend in May. There were some subtle differences from my experiences at New Jersey tracks. I remember going to the bar to order a couple of beers for myself and my business partner and when the bartenders said “that’ll be four dollars,” all I could respond with was “each?” She smiled and remarked, “You must be from Jersey.”

Horseplayers are alike all over. Even though I was south of the Mason-Dixon line it was a matter of time before I ran into a horseplayer that provided everyone with a show.

On that day, it was the second race. As the horses loaded into the starting gate at the grandstand entrance for a claiming race at a mile, I saw a man I will refer to as Seventies Sam.

Seventies Sam looked like he was stuck in a time warp that was locked into 1974. He had an ill-fitting outfit consisting of plaid pants, a pastel shirt with a wide collar, and a matching fedora. When Seventies Sam lifted his hat to fix his hair he exposed a wispy comb-over that flapped around in the breeze.

The show started as the last horse loaded into the gate. Seventies Sam was already barking at the jockeys as if he was the trainer giving them last minute instructions in the paddock prior to the call for rider’s up. “Make sure you hold him back early Mikey, don’t let him get away early on you,” he said to Mike McCarthy. “Settle early on the rail and let the pace burn out up front there Jeremy,” he said to apprentice Jeremy Rose.

You could see his enthusiasm was building in the seconds before they broke from the gate. Seventies Sam’s grip on his rolled up program tightened. As the horses finally broke from the gate, not only were they off, so was he.

There was no need for a track announcer that day. Seventies Sam called out every horse, and what they were doing wrong, the entire way. As the horses turned for home he continued his monologue however it grew louder the closer they got to the finish. By the time the field was 100 yards out, he was screaming so loud that you could see the veins bulging in his forehead and neck.

Seventies Sam didn’t handle defeat well. He took it out on his rolled up program and fedora. Both were thrown in anger, but then quickly collected as he attempted to regain his composure. This continued race after race that day which left me wondering if maybe I was his bad luck charm.

This would be the first and last time I would ever witness Seventies Sam in action so I will never know if it was me or if he was just having an off day.

(Note that like many horseplayers, some of these videos contain some vulgar language!)

I Think He Likes The Three

The camera work wasn’t too good on this one, maybe he had one too many “Champagne of Beers” before catching this horseplayer in action. I couldn’t tell if he was auditioning to be an auctioneer in this video. But, note the classic superstitious horseplayer move of not moving a muscle while he is imploring the three to dig.

Hold His Family Together

It has been said that without family you are nothing. This excitable horseplayer takes his family very seriously. Notice how his entire demeanor changes the second he brings his family into this race. Another classic degenerate horseplayer move can be witnessed here as you hear his booming voice start to crack as he hits a falsetto. I bet he could do a mean Julia Child impersonation.

The Four Lets Him Down

He had a good rhythm going of phantom whipping with the right. Alas, he was short at the wire. While I can’t make out everything he says here, it is obvious that he was playing the four. Perhaps if he had kept his rhythm the four would have gotten home?


More Than Just Sweatin’ To The Oldies

He starts off mellow. Then he moves to yelling at the monitor. Then the patented program slap begins. As the horses hit the stretch he starts convulsing. The arms are moving, he starts hopping, and then the arms go full swing. This guy is moving more than Richard Simmons did in the 1980’s. Seems this one didn’t go his way as his enthusiasm tapers off as the horses hit the wire. I am not sure this is the glowing endorsement that Sherwin Williams was looking for either.

Horseplayers Never Hand Ride

There is a lot going on in this video. While there are a number of animated characters near the monitors yelling and cheering, it is hard to take your eyes off of the gentleman in the light green shirt. Not only is he whipping the horse, he is crouched down working the reigns. What may be the most impressive part of this video is when he switches to the left hand. It was his day though and it was a “cinch” for him to collect at the windows.

Once again, for those of us that remain more composed at the race track, it is always fun to come for the live racing and stay for the show! What other great entertaining horseplayer moments have you witnessed at the track or your favorite OTB?

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