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Backstretch with Gordon--Friday

October 05, 2007

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I am pretty sure the weather forecast for Lexington Friday was a slight chance of scattered thunderstorms, but it started pouring around 9 o’clock and continued that way for close to an hour and because I only had my child’s umbrella that I got Meadowlands Pace night and really didn’t want to get soaked, it was great that I had a chance to talk to Ed Gorgei this morning on The Red Mile apron.


It was only a slight drizzle as I drove to the track but during one stretch on New Circle Road the skies opened up. But when I arrived at the track—on another 70-degree morning in October with a high expected again near 90—it had still only drizzled there. Then the monsoon came, right in the middle of the five-race qualifying session. It even forced trophy coordinator Whitney Fields, who was preparing the flowers for this afternoon’s races, to head for cover, but the trooper she is, she still carried on with her duties while standing in a raging river of water that was cascading through.


While the qualifiers were still going on despite the heavy rain, I had my chance to talk to Ed, who has been around the racetrack since getting his first job in 1966 with Frank Ervin. A native of Canfield, Ohio, Ed, who has been here, there and everywhere over his career, told me he had an interest in horses through his father, who loved all animals, and then when he met a local horse trader he became hooked on harness racing.


Ed pulled out a letter he had that was written back in 1972 by Ervin on Castleton Farm stationary recommending him for a job with Del Cameron. “I was honored because it was one Hall of Famer recommending me to another Hall of Famer,” Ed told me. Although the job had been filled before that letter was sent, Ed said he still cherishes the paper, and even still has it in its original envelope with eight cents postage.


I could probably have talked to Ed forever as he has years and years of tales to tell. Along the way he has trained his own stable, and he told me about the time he won the Courageous Lady at Northfield Park (in 1993) with Peaceful Feeling, who he co-owned and trained.


Also included along the way was a stint working as assistant trainer to The Red Mile-based Steve Waller, but Ed said he stopped training horses about five years ago, saying, “I just didn’t want to continue making a living while always in transition.” He began working on the track crew at The Red Mile a couple of years ago, and wanted to make sure that if I wrote anything about him this morning to be sure to include how grateful he is to all the track superintendents he has worked under for their help and guidance.


One of the track’s white trucks came by on the track and we waved at it to stop so Ed could get back to work, which there will be plenty to do as it hopefully will stop raining by the 12:30 post time.


As Ed ran off through the rain, I looked back on the track and this now gives me a chance to remember the fine effort the 2-year-old colt trotter Waterstone turned in yesterday when he finished third to Deweycheatumnhowe. David Miller had him wide in the last turn and then angled in to get third money. I saw Jimmy and Christina Takter afterward and the trainer told me that he now plans to pass on the Valley Victory at Mohawk and instead wait for the Breeders Crown. I told him that’s great because the Thanksgiving weekend trip to the Meadowlands is already on my travel schedule, so hopefully I’ll get another chance to see him race.


I figured I better head back to the office—despite not ever reaching the backstretch—so I waved goodbye to Whitney, who was by now standing ankle deep in the raging waters, and then did the same to Randy, who watches over the official’s parking lot. That lot is probably the only paved parking site in the Northern Hemisphere that doesn’t have lines painted so cars can be parked in an orderly manner, but Randy showed how smart he was a few weeks ago when he strung a white rope across the second row. Just doing that and lining up that row led to a domino effect throughout the entire lot, and it is now a pleasure parking at the track, especially knowing that I don’t have to squeeze my car in tight or that I could be blocked in.
And finally, it\'s nice to know people read what I write. I got to the office today and there was an email from Michigander Don Daniels telling me that the Cold Comfort race that I wrote about yesterday with Peter Haughton falling out of the sulky had been posted online after I brought the incident up after Tom Haughton had talked about it. It is pretty funny to see, so if you click here to see the Cold Comfort/Haughton race, you\'ll have a chance to enjoy it as well. Thanks Don and thanks to Dom Rebelo for providing the digitalized video.



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