Monday, September 12, 2011

Thank You, Canterbury Park

Usually this space, on the first day after the conclusion of the Canterbury Park live meet, you get all the facts and figures and my ruminations on the season.  That will come soon enough, but this summer at Canterbury Park has done something for me that nothing has over the past six years of living here: it has made Minnesota home.

Wherever I have lived in the past, I have been able to assimilate. I bleed Boston and New England – that will never change - but when I lived in the DC area, I loved the museums, battlefields and culture and felt like a Marylander.  In Las Vegas I became a UNLV fan, as did my kids.  Even when living on Guam I felt a connected to the land and people (tano y chamoru for those of you “in the know”).  No matter what I tried here in Minnesota, that didn’t happen.  When people asked, I was “from” Massachusetts or Nevada, but I “lived” in Minnesota.

That changed this summer and I have a lot of people to thank for that.

In no particular order:

David Miller and Jim Dunleavy.  My friend David, bloodstock agent and Equibase chart caller, helped me get involved in Minnesota racing which led to Fizzy Pop, this blog, Tabby Lane and, ultimately, a recommendation to Jim, an editor at the Daily Racing Form that got me this freelance gig.  Jim gave me a shot and it worked out well enough that if I’m around, I’ll do this gig again next year.  Thank you, both.

Jeff Maday, Andrew Offerman, Angela Hermann, Paul Allen, Kate Ulrich, Jim Wells and Bruce “The Oracle” Meyer.  The Canterbury Park press box team welcomed me in and, after I proved not to be a real doofus, made me part of the family.  While the night of the shutdown was depressing, being with this group made it bearable and, in fact, will stay with me as one of the best memories – not for the event, but for the camaraderie.  They were also silly enough to put a microphone in my hand and put me in front of a camera.  I loved it like you read about and thank them for the experience.  I’m going to miss this crew terribly and hope that my next “real” job enables me to be back with them next year – and for years to come.

Annie Ringwelski and Jen Selvig (Minnesota Retired Racehorse Project).  These ladies helped me discover a passion for helping retiring racehorses that I never knew I had!  I even made a deal – I help them write grants and wrangle up money and I’ll be taught to ride and take care of a horse.  Ladies, I so got the better end of that deal!  I mean, it’s not curling, but still…  Thank you and you all I won’t miss too much – we’ll be seeing a lot of each other as we move forward.  I promise to try and get there once a week to help out, until a “real” job gets in the way.

Jay & Willa Dailey, Mary Malkerson, Kris Reinman, Tom & Jan Aguilera, Kay King and other owners and MTA members I’m sure I’m inadvertently missing.  Getting to know you all better this year was the gem of the summer and something I’ll always have.  Thank you.

As always, I can never, ever thank Bernell & Cindy Rhone, Dean & Leann Butler and all the barn help for all they’ve done for our horses over the years and especially the patient and near miraculous job they did turning Tabby Lane around.  But they are even better people than they are horsepeople and that’s what makes them special.

Of course, Tabby Lane.  I visited Tabby nearly every race day of the meet.  Sometimes we shared dinner – well, she ate while I yapped.  She always took breaks to nuzzle, though, and I appreciate it.  She taught me that horses have very distinct personalities and that hers was dazzling.  When I’d come by she would stick her head out of her stall and push her forehead up against my chest and I’d nuzzle with her and we’d talk.  She’s a great listener and I love her dearly.  This business may have other plans, but I hope that I get to retire her someday.  She’s a keeper.

Ultimately while what I got paid for covering racing probably barely covered my gas for the summer, it gave me much more than that.  Thank you to all I have mentioned and those that I forgot for doing something in a summer that living here for six years didn’t:  I’m now “from” Minnesota (I’m still a Boston sports fan, let’s not get crazy) and finally feel a sense of belonging.  Thank you for the best summer of my adult life.

Now we’ll see if I can stay.

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