Sunday May 11 2014
"Now," I don't believe in gambling," my mom said, "but here's $5. Go bet on Chalk Box to win."
Chalk Box, multiple stakes winner at Longacres racetrack, was up for her biggest race yet, the Washington Oaks. Year-end championship honors hung on this stakes race. It was Mom's first visit to Longacres racetrack where I worked as a groom, her first time to meet Chalk Box, her first time to watch one of my horses race. She picked a big one to attend.
After I led Chalk out of the paddock and turned her over to the pony on the track, Mom handed me the 5 dollar bill.
I was in a quandary - I wasn't suspicious, but I could not bet on my own horses! I ran in a partial panic through the crowd to the windows, not knowing what to do. I was about to pocket the $5, and just pay mom the money if Chalk won (and I felt she would)… when I saw a friend standing in line to bet.
"Ten Eyck!" I grabbed him. "Here, can you bet $5 on Chalk Box to win? She's my horse but I can't bet on her but I'm supposed to place this bet for my mom…" I babbled frantically.
He placed the bet for me, handed me the ticket, and I ran back outside to watch my lovely filly warming up on the track.
Chalk Box won (and ultimately was named Washington Champion 3-Year-Old Filly of 1989). Mom got to stand in the Winner's Circle. She got her $20. She never gambled again.
She never could quite understand my horse addiction I'd been born with… but I think she got it that day.
Miss you Mom!