Hawthorne Racecourse (3/15/10)
Contact: Ron Uchman
A Chip Off the Old Block
When I first interviewed Randy Meier, Hawthorne’s all-time leading rider, a few years back and asked why he kept riding despite all of his injuries, he expressed his love for speed and the power he felt beneath him when he was astride a Thoroughbred during the course of the race. I heard almost the same thing from his son, Brandon Meier, during a recent meeting.
The younger Meier, just a few months shy of his 22nd birthday, possesses an infectious smile and the kind of good looks that made him a natural for the recent TV miniseries “Jockeys.” He started his career with a bang, winning with his first mount, a Frank Calabrese runner named Houseboat that was trained by Wayne Catalano.
‘I actually got hit in the mouth as we were loading into the gate. She threw her head back and bopped me. They loaded me as I leaned over and spit out blood and chips of my teeth. After I won, they took me to the hospital and I got eight stitches in my lip. I fractured all four teeth and wound up getting a lot of dental work after that.
“I always wanted to be a rider,” said the younger Meier. “I used to come out in the mornings with my father and watch him work horses. I loved it. I always wanted to do what he did: compete, go fast.
“There was a time when I thought that I was going to grow too big. So, I went to college for a year, tried it, but I still wanted to ride and I didn’t get too big so I got started. I had no Plan B.
“My Mom used to have show horses. I’d go ride them, do the jumping, but I never really liked it. It was too slow of a sport. I wanted to go fast. I played sports all my life. I wanted the competition.
“Between morning works and riding in races, I get more than enough exercise. One thing that does help me though is the Equi-Ciser my Dad got when he broke both of his legs and his wrist a few years ago. I get on it during the off season and ride it as long as I can to keep tight and stay fit.
“I like riding better than acting but if a TV gig comes along with it, I’ll take it.”
When asked about the fear and concern that might bother a young rider, especially after seeing all the injuries that his father had suffered through his career, Brandon was philosophic. “We actually compared my father’s broken bones to those of (stuntman) Evel Knievel. My father has him beat. It was different growing up with that. I always knew the risks. But, I also saw the high points. He won the Hawthorne Gold Cup twice. He always came back from his injuries. He usually came back stronger than before. He has a great work ethic. He’s been a great role model and a real inspiration.
“We might have a little trash talk before a race where we both had a mount but he would also give me strategies and critique what I had done. I’ve been very lucky.
“But, we love to compete against each other. Whenever we come down the stretch together, there is no letting up.”
Hawthorne Race Course begins racing on Friday, February 12 and runs through Sunday, April 25. First post time daily is 1:35 pm. For racing schedule and details on promotions and parties at Hawthorne, visit www.Hawthorneracecourse.com.