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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Beauty of Goshen

My birthday was spent in its traditional manner.  My wife took me to Goshen Historic Track.  Typically, we go to Goshen for the Landmark Stakes and the NYSS races but this year, obligations limited our attendance to the day where the NY County Fair Stakes were contested.  It may not have been an ‘A’ list of racing, but it was a day of renewed acquaintances.

Before the races, Sheri got to visit with a trainer we knew briefly; long enough to meet her dog.  It was agreed after the races we would get together for a while.  In the meanwhile, I talked to a couple of owners from Canada, who live near Fort Erie in Ontario.  We talked about the situation in Ontario and about fair racing as one of the gentlemen also drives at the Ohio fairs.  Turns out he came from Cal Expo, and we discussed the amazing transformation of a certain trainer who came east.  Perhaps most disturbing was the response Jim Simpson received the night before at the Hall of Fame inductions when he talked about the problems with illegal medications and the need for improved testing.  Instead of warm applause after this speech, I am told his induction speech was met with quiet respectful applause.  This is not to say the people in attendance were in favor of drugging, but to talk about such issues on a night celebrating the best of harness racing, people didn’t want to hear about the daily issues that plaques racing.

I couldn’t help but notice the crowd at Goshen yesterday.  Yes, there were a lot of children, but the fact is you saw more people in attendance at Goshen than you see at many racetracks.  Clearly the interest in harness racing exists if you market it correctly, making me think Jeff Gural’s plans for the Meadowlands can’t go wrong.

I met a photographer who is at Goshen every year taking photos for his own pleasure.  We don’t know each other by name, but being regulars, we have gotten to know each other and we checked in on what has transpired since the last meet.

But perhaps the most meaningful moment yesterday cane as I was watching the races.  Sheri wheeled me to a spot next to the grandstand for the races and after a while a family came with their father who is suffering from the infirmities of age.  This individual was once prominent in breeding and racing his homebreds. The infirmities of age have impacted him, but you can tell every time the horses went by the fog lifted, albeit for a short period of time.  As they say, once horses are in your blood, it never leaves your blood.  It would have been something to know this gentleman in his prime.  His family were angels taking their father out and making arrangements for their father to spend his final days at the home he loved. 

The races concluded, we went back to the stable of our trainer friend and spent a while talking about how things have been going.  It may have been a year since we last saw each other, but when we started talking it as like we saw each other last week.  I had the opportunity to talk up the horse rescue movement, specifcially talking about Horse Rescue United.

Granted, I have been going to Goshen for over 30 years, but you don’t need to have been going for that long.  Everyone is so friendly at Goshen.  Whether you are there for your first year or for thirty years plus, you develop friendships at Goshen you will treasure for years.  If you have never been to Goshen, come next year and develop some friendships which will last a lifetime.

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