Thursday, December 31, 2015


If you've reached this blog, thank you.  I appreciate the visit!

I stopped chronicling here on December 31, 2015.  The reasons are outlined here.  I am still writing, though covering Midwestern racing at large not just my corner of it, over at the Midwest Paddock Report.  If you're more interested in general essays on a variety of topics, you can check me out over at Fat Guys' Rants.

Finally, if you're Twitter enthusiasts:

@tlgrevelis - my personal account
@mwpaddockreport - the Midwest Paddock Report account
@FatRants_Ted - Fat Guys' Rants account

Thanks again or stopping by and I hope you'll visit at my new homes on the web!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Fizzy Popped!!!

[NOTE: Originally published on 5/25/08, this was my first win in a group I had put together with a horse I helped to pick out.  Very little help - Bernell has the eagle eye, not me!  It was a kind of rambling and goofy post but the rush of a win is hard to explain - especially your first - and so I let the rambling speak for itself.  This post really helps epitomize what racing is about for the little guy and a fitting 'best of' of close with.]

WOW! He did it. Under a great ride by Dean Butler, Fizzy put away a group of $16,000 claimers over the turf course at Canterbury today. Dean got him out of the gate well and positioned him off an honest early pace (23.9/48.1) about fifth coming down the backstretch. When he asked Fiz to move at the top of the lane he did, corralling the leader in the stretch. He tapped him a couple of time and, as the official chart says, rode him out for the win.

Before the race, Bernell, Dean and I (below) talked about what kind of race we wanted to see and the way it lined up was the way it went. It's hard to ask for more than that. It's also rare, so needless to say we are savoring it.
As you all know, I was nervous about bringing Fizzy back on 10-days, but Bernell was right on target. The last one didn't take much out of him and today he was ready to fire. It has to be said as well, that Dean Butler rode one heckuva race. He had Fizzy positioned perfectly, asked him at just the right time and won in hand, saving some gas in the tank for another day.

I had faith (see yesterday's post) that he would win, but the moment I knew he would win actually came in the day's 3rd race. Prior to leaving for the track, I placed a few bets on the early races because I knew we'd miss them live. I didn't plan on betting the third race, but I inadvertently bet the 1 across the board. I had wanted that in the 4th race but was trying to hustle out of the house and I messed it up. We got down to Shakopee just as the third race was going off. As luck would have it, the 1 went to lead and never looked back at 11-1. When I won that race, I knew Fiz was a lock - it was turning out to be that kind of day. By the way, the 1 in the fourth won as well...

One of our partners, Laura, brought her boyfriend Steve with her and he was hitting everything in sight. He hit a $180 exacta, Laura herself nailed one for $39. Of the 5 races I played (including Fizzy's) I won 3. One of other partners, Mike, left a graduation party way later than planned and just made it in time to hit the paddock with us - 20 minutes later we were in the winner's circle. We were under severe thunderstorm warnings, but didn't see a drop of rain. Our partner Josh (who brought his lovely girlfriend Erica with him) said he wouldn't bet Fizzy 'cause it was like betting on his kid's Little League team. We laughed, but he said just watch, you'll see. We did. It was just that kind of day. I think behind the clouds the stars were aligned just so.

On the way to the paddock we were laughing and smiling. It's really a rush waiting for your horse, trainer and jockey to come on by. After "rider's up!" we walked to the apron and waited. Bernell and I chit-chatted some more and I asked him to keep an eye out for another claim as our second group appears to be pulling together. All the while the minutes on the tote board ticked down MUCH slower than in 60 second increments. The gate sprung open and Fiz popped nicely as they passed the grandstand the first time. As I mentioned, Dean rode a great race and the only real threat appeared to be Deputy Tice who was gaining late, but he was no match for Fiz and Dean hand rode him under the wire to win by 1 3/4. As he passed under the wire Bernell turned to me with a huge smile, shook my hand and yelled "Congratulations!!". I said "You too!! Let's go get our picture taken!"

I think we all floated to the winner's circle. Mike, Laura and Josh were thrilled and I was beside myself. To be able to put this group together, spend 3.5 months scouting horses, finally dropping the slip, two tough thirds and then a clunker on the dirt up here and have it all come together in front of all the partners (except Jane in New Orleans - we missed you!!) in a minute and 36 seconds for the mile was a feeling I've never really experienced. It made all the work feel like it was play.

As you can probably tell with my rambling, I'm still on cloud nine. I probably shouldn't have posted yet. I should have waited to be more analytical and less emotional. Then I thought, why the hell should I? Kind of the point of starting this was to share with people all that it takes to get started in this business as a small-timer and sharing with you all the highs and lows. Apparently part of the highs is to babble like an idiot because the adrenaline rush lingers for hours!

Now we'll see how Fiz comes back and point him to his next engagement. You can bet it won't be at $16,000. Our new goal: by the end of the meet for people to say, "Can you believe they bought him for $10,000 and we could have had him for $16,000 back in May?"
Dean and Fiz come back to the winner's circle!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Cam Casby - One of A Kind

[NOTE: Originally posted on 10/27/14, it has been a year now without Cam and we still miss her each and every day.]

“Do you mean he just left you down here…alone?”

These were the first words that Heather heard from Cam Casby.  It was Canterbury Park opening day 2013 and Cam was horrified that I just left Heather to fend for herself.  Of course that wasn’t EXACTLY the way it all went down: it was Heather’s first trip out to the track with me and she was hesitant to join me in the press box so she insisted on just enjoying opening night downstairs.

That was Cam.  She took care of you if she could.  She would take care of everyone if she could!  There was nothing she wouldn’t do for her friends and to know Cam was to be her friend.
You never knew who Cam was waving at...she knew everybody
Cam was inspirational.  Her enthusiasm for the sport was infectious.  It’s no secret that this past summer was not one of our best but whenever I’d feel like packing it in, one conversation with Cam would change all that.  I’d be rejuvenated and ready to try again.  And again.
She encouraged cheering at her table.  If you had a bet, a horse in the race or just wanted a rooting interest, she made sure you were yelling and screaming for your horse as the race unfolded.  Fun was not only encouraged, it was mandatory.
Cam was wonderful with children.  My son, Forrest, loved spending time with her.  They would talk music and the instruments they each played.  He, of our three, is the only one that loves the track as much as we do and he loved talking horses with Cam - and he took her mandate of loud rooting to heart.  There wasn't a kid introduced to Cam that didn't love her - or she love right back.
Cam didn’t like going into the paddock before races but she encouraged others to go in there and support her horse.  I wish I had a count of the number of people we brought into the paddock on her behest.  And EVERYONE was invited to the winners’ circle if she was fortunate enough to win.  Going to the track was supposed to be fun and she made sure you had it.

Cam enjoying Talkin' Bout stakes win on Festival Day, August 31, 2014
But Cam wasn’t just fun and games.  There was no greater supporter of Minnesota bred horses than Cam Casby.  She insisted that if we took care and bred carefully, our horses could compete anywhere in the country.  She put her money where her mouth was and sent her MN-breds all over the country to win races and be stakes placed.  Breed them right, train them right and then give them a chance to succeed.  And tell her it can’t be done and then stand back and watch her accomplish it!

It was a long week last week.  Rather than improving, Cam drifted away from us.  I don’t know if she could hear us or not, but I made sure that heard Wildnightattheopera’s win from Wednesday and a recap of Talkin’ Bout’s race on Saturday. 

Talkin' Bout, under Eddie Martin Jr, winning the Glitter Star Minnesota Distaff
Cam probably would have been appalled by all of us all there with her in that condition.  I can almost hear her, “There’s nothing you can do? You have a thousand other things you have to get done that you CAN affect.  You should be doing those things.  Am I wrong?”

I understand that but I couldn’t stay away either.  I wanted to hold on as long as I could.  I wanted to talk to her one more time.  There were things to share and horses to talk about.  I wanted to maybe get her annoyed enough that should would just wake up and yell at all of us. 

Of course that wasn’t meant to be and now we mourn the loss of a friend.  The entire vibe of racing in Minnesota is now changed forever.  I can’t imagine what being at the track will be like without her. Her advice, friendship and loving nature can’t be replaced. 

I would ask that Cam watch over us all as we try and move forward without her but, knowing Cam, she’s already started doing that.