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Author Topic: Sportsmans Park Memories  (Read 2376 times)
mackfan
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« on: August 01, 2006, 07:18:08 PM »

Does anyone miss racing at Sportsmans Park besides me? I loved summertime racing there. I was still pretty young but was at the track the night Rambling Willie set the earnings mark. Doug Hamilton beat him that night with a horse whose name escapes me right now. When he drove out of the winners circle and past the grandstand the crowd booed him very loudly as I recall. When I was older and grooming horses we had 2-3 stalls we would ship into. I remember shipping in one night and right across from our stalls stood Artsplace,Odds Against,and Camluck.They were shipped in for the American National. Maybe the best race I ever saw though was Hothead dualling undefeated Forest Skipper in a dramatic photo finish. I still say Hothead won that race. The grandstand was packed that night and what an exciting place to be.
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Kenneth J. Chadwick
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« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2006, 07:46:55 PM »

I loved SPK park.

The up close racing and the winner's circle.

I think it was the third floor veranda is were I hung out.  It over looked the track.  What a sight.  I used to go to SPK three times a week.  Did I love it.

Yes I miss it to.


Kenneth J. Chadwick
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LV_GaryD
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« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2006, 08:08:41 PM »

Several Sportsman's Park memories. One was getting 4 jacks beat by 4 kings in a tackroom poker game, losing my whole paycheck in 3 hours.

Several involve Doug Hamilton. I was playing video poker in a bar near the track and had managed to win $60, but they refused to pay me off. Apparently they thought I was a cop.

Doug happened to show up about a half hour later and I'd run the machine up to $80. The bartender asked if I was a buddy of Doug's and he said "yea, why"? The guy then paid me the $80 and Doug and I got drunk with the money. I know it's hard to believe that he'd ever get drunk, but it is true!

Another time was when he drove one of our horses and one of her hopples broke around the half and hit him in the nuts several times. He was white as a sheet when he pulled up, and  nearly fell down when he got off the bike. I nearly did too- from laughing when he told me what had happened. The horse kept pacing and ended up fourth or fifth.

Finally, the time he snuck out behind Daryl Busse and stuck a firecracker under his foot on the porch in the paddock. Busse called him every kind of c*cksucker you can think of. Both Doug and I laughed so hard we were in tears.

Doug is one of the funniest guys I've ever known in my life, and he can train a horse with the best of them. I doubt that his ex-wife, Arlene, would say he's one of the best husbands around, but what a funny s.o.b, and a truly good guy!!!

Another funny memory of Sportsman's Park was when a young black guy named Donald who was working for Harmer, walked up to Tommy sortly after Debbie had their first baby and said "Hey ***, how my baby doing today? You know that ain't yo baby..." This same guy used to limp behind Kenny Beach, mimicking him when he'd walk through the barn. Harmer used to cuss Donald, Arthur Watts Jr, and me out all the time, but it meant nothing to any of us. Harmer is most likely gay, and his bikes do fall apart, but he's one funny s.o.b. too.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2006, 08:10:43 PM by LV_GaryD » Report to moderator   Logged
Mclock
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« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2006, 08:27:01 PM »

sportsmans was the best harness track chi. ever had or ever will......are you sure the night willie got beat it wasn't by red buch??? I member they had a special race for 8y/o's and up just for willie and Sterling Buch beat him so they had to write the race again for the next week....I have a  dollar  dollar clip from that night it's dated sep, 31, 1983 and says sportsmans park and rambling willie on it, maybe it's worth a buck or two...ahhh the memories      
                                                                trotter
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pacerfan
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« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2006, 08:40:58 PM »

Sportsmans park was the best. Lots of memories, great racing, great time. I love the long strech.
Late 90's racing.
Takes me back. Lots of great horses. too many to list.
Lets get em back
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kellytuc
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« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2006, 09:15:39 PM »

Freddys Pizza on Cicero and then to SPK!
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Armonsol
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« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2006, 09:26:13 PM »

Head to SPK after business trips to Indiana, sit outside and watch horses warm up in the summer warmth.  Handicap the DD. 

Not likely now to venture to BMP or Ghettowood, just not the same.
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race track phil
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« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2006, 09:45:18 PM »

               SPORTSMAN PARK !      there never was or ever will be a better racetrack than spk 5/8 !  the greatest place to watch and win betting great horses . just a plain shame that they had wreck the greatest track ever , first making it bigger for those t -breds and then to make it a car track ! probably the worst business decision ever made in modern time ! IDIOTS A CAR TRACK IN CICERO ! They had a better chance selling tee pee's to indians !
                                   geezer     RTP
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Terry Hunt
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« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2006, 10:09:41 PM »

Phil,

Amen!  Sportsman's was the best far and away.  I was on the second floor at Hawthorne several weeks ago now, and took a  look out the window into Sportsman's Park.  I could see where we used to have our box seats...it was really sad.
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Terry Hunt
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« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2006, 10:20:44 PM »

   I remember @ spk  seeing :

        Albatross winning in 154 3/5 in 1974

       Seeing great Midwest derbies with horses like--    Young Quinn, FlY Fly Solly, Rambling Willie, mirror image, titleholder,sir Dalrae, all the great Pletcher horses,  The Great Byrd, Star Show


    Mares like---    Tarport Hap, Pretty Direct, Hi Peggie, sea Fiddler,

   Drivers like--   Joe O'Brien , Jim Dennis , Glen Kidwell, Max Lynch, jim Dolbee, Don Busse, Harry Burright, Stan Banks, All of the Willis" , AG Shaw,
Bill Beckley, Gene Vallandingham, Harold Guerra, Aubrey Petty, Archie Trinkle
Chris Boring

   Seeing Starboard Butler open up Giant leads with the SS Sulky with Charlie ***.  

  Standing outside the clubhouse entrance waiting for the 6th race to go off ,so we could get in for free on hot summer nights.

Racing there one winter around 1978?Huh??

   just some random memories-------
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emp
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« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2006, 10:23:09 PM »

Phil,

Amen!  Sportsman's was the best far and away.  I was on the second floor at Hawthorne several weeks ago now, and took a  look out the window into Sportsman's Park.  I could see where we used to have our box seats...it was really sad.
I also shared your teardrops several times this Summer TH.
[/b]
LONG LIVE SPORTSMAN'S PARK (CHICAGO NOT ST. LOUIS) R.I.P
[/b]


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pezz97
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« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2006, 10:40:41 PM »

I was there the night Hothead went against forrest skipper, and I will never forget Lavern pumping his fist after they croossed the wire thinking he had won. To this day, I still believe he won that race.

My brother and I used to climb up the stairs at the end of the clubhouse to watch every race when we were there, They absolutley ruined the best thing chicago harness racing ever had and it is such a damn shame.
Sportsmans used to be 1a to the big M, now Chicago racing is way behind that of what goes on in Canada, and the I.R.B. does not seem to care. Keep giving Balmoral and $hitwood the dates theyy want and the only thing that comes close to what we used to have at sportsmans at Hawthorne keeps getting cut!!! Tell me that makes sense


Another Memory I have is when Osbournes Fitrst set the track record the night I was there with Doug Hamilton in the bike in 155.1 Those were the days!!!
« Last Edit: August 02, 2006, 05:42:17 AM by pezz97 » Report to moderator   Logged
kingofcrete
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« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2006, 11:07:34 PM »

Guys
        Great memories from SPK 5/8ths. A couple of small corrections. Albatross was July 1, 1972
and the horse who beat Willie was PENN STATE driven by Mark O'Mara
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pacinfool
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« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2006, 11:12:14 PM »

               SPORTSMAN PARK !      there never was or ever will be a better racetrack than spk 5/8 !  the greatest place to watch and win betting great horses . just a plain shame that they had wreck the greatest track ever , first making it bigger for those t -breds and then to make it a car track ! probably the worst business decision ever made in modern time ! IDIOTS A CAR TRACK IN CICERO ! They had a better chance selling tee pee's to indians !
                                   geezer     RTP

i agree rtp and emp . it was a sight to see and the people came in droves. to see the likes of bret hanover and adios vic. all the great drivers were there at one time or another. a beautifully maintain track and the infield. they put on a show there. just looking at those pics makes me sick. i will always have fond memories of where i saw my first harness race and where i use to ride my bike in the summertime when i was on summer vacation from school watching the horses jog and train, also watching the qualifiers. i am glad i was there to see it but, it is like and old friend you will never see again
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Fillmore Bear
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« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2006, 12:32:50 AM »

No single shaft at SPK.Only Maywood and Washington Park.
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getemup
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« Reply #15 on: August 02, 2006, 01:27:19 AM »

My favorite memory was hearing "Jenna's Beach Boy is off stride".....and then having Falcon Dakota get up to win the American National.......The difference in the pick three will pays...$1706.00 to Falcon Dakota.....$17.00 to Jenna's Beach Boy....needless to say you can bet who I wanted to win...

I loved Gil Levine and all his calls....

He's hanging like a grape out there
The whole damn Broadway family's coming on
Him singing home Clancy

That place will always have the greatest memories to me as I basically grew up there as a kid. I always had to go to every super night....now with it at Balmoral it really has lost its luster to me

By the way I still think Hothead won! Of course I still think Eng Amer Supertime won a trot race there as well when he was almost out of the screen he was so wide in the stretch!
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« Reply #16 on: August 02, 2006, 04:01:40 AM »

Great Gil calls:

"Pacing Boy's got his MO-JO workin'!"

"Here comes SONG CYCLE going downhill cruising!"

"So much to do...so little time"

"here comes THE SPYDER!!!  Spyder Wright."

"here comes the Union Special!  WOOO-WOOO!!"

"Swing Back's had the best of it...still does a length... but here comes Pacific Flight and SHE IS FLYING!!"
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Double Joker
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« Reply #17 on: August 02, 2006, 04:26:11 AM »

I was there the night Hothead and Forest Skipper hooked up.I thought Hothead had also won the race!I think the place was packed and they gave away a car that night?Gill handed me the mike one time and let me call the race to the 1/2.I remember the barmaid Helen man she was funny!I wish the track was still open! flag
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vcackerman
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« Reply #18 on: August 02, 2006, 06:04:05 AM »

Some other Gil calls I remember:

"They all want a piece of the action" (when you get like 5 horses pulling at once)

"That's [insert horse name] and he's all washed up"

He always like the funny name...Annaannabobanana, Shammalammamama
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Tsunami
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« Reply #19 on: August 02, 2006, 06:09:05 AM »

The "Falcon Dakota" upset of 1996  

Helen , she would always give you good steam and wouldn`t want a dime , I`d have to throw it at her.
 mucker

3rd floor clubhouse , seemed like all the mafioso types hung out there.
 8)

Very sad and very poor management it could have been a gold mine now,JMO

 trotter
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SONG CYCLE 5/8THS
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« Reply #20 on: August 02, 2006, 07:39:18 PM »

wasnt there a loong inquiry in the hothead/forest skipper race?..wasnt a matter of photo..but forest skipper blocking hothead down the stretch?
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SONG CYCLE 5/8THS
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« Reply #21 on: August 02, 2006, 07:42:24 PM »

harness racing videos web site has video of albatroos record at spk.. a little dark..but ...memories of the legendary spk
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TC
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« Reply #22 on: August 02, 2006, 07:49:30 PM »

I got some steam the week before, and was rewarded with an early phone call coming into the next week's draw.  My insider told me "he'll be better this week, Bud" (even though it was a mare).  Now, the week prior, this beast dusted the F&M group and paid nice.  As a treat, I said we'll hit dinner downtown and then head out to Cicero.  I popped for Shaw's Crab House and "cockroach" takes down some frog legs.  We go to Spk, and as post time nears, the nervousness leads to almost every freaking frog leg being deposited into one of those metal mesh trashcans in the grandstand next to the $50 windows.  He was as green as those legs when they were fresh - LOL.  Anyway, the horse jogs, we get our picture taken, and on the way out of the charmed circle, the trailer frog legs spewed forth.  I've never seen anyone order those little devils again.   Grin   trotter  TC

projectile vomiting at its finest !
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Honest1
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« Reply #23 on: August 02, 2006, 08:58:06 PM »

I was standing as close to on the wire as you could get during the Hothead Forest Skipper race, I really beleaved it was as close to a DH as any race I ever saw. I also have the Program of Albatross at SPK. I will have to dig it out.
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nderic
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« Reply #24 on: August 02, 2006, 09:14:02 PM »

sitting above the paddock on a hot summer night watching all the people coming and going ...looking at the horses through the paddock "windows".  Watching ronnie and dave and walter come off the track walk through the crowd back into the paddock.  Those were the best of times.
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thebigm
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« Reply #25 on: August 02, 2006, 09:56:18 PM »

sitting on the wooden bleachers up in the grandstand, enjoying the beautiful summer nights....I will never forget how all the boys would go to the top and all you could smell was that killer skunk....that place was THE BEST....
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I sure miss the good 'ol days!!
feelin old
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« Reply #26 on: August 02, 2006, 10:13:55 PM »

 Just how good did that blast of cold air feel when you were entering the grandstand or race office after walking from backstretch or parking lot.

A Gil-ism,  "and Johnny Z comes out of the 3hole for no obvious reason"

When I was very young Bobby Shuter and I went to the press box every night for free soda and to get some of Gil's lemondrops that he always had around for his voice.
One time we were headed for the Announcers booth but got intercepted by Earl Williams so we wouldn't walk into Gil's Booth while he had a "special guest".

Earl said there was someone in there but we sure couldn't see much of his guest. She must have been picking something up from the floor because she sure stayed bent over for a long time. lol

I was there EVERY summer of my life.

Shuter and I put a golf cart in the elevator, went to the 3rd floor, Put in reverse got it going, then put it in forward and squeeled the tire and left rubber.
Old Pete Langley never did figure out how those  skid rubber marks got there.
 I always remember waiting for Bobby Dennis (Jim's son) to make it out coming from California.  His dog Duke killed 12 SWANS that Pete Langley had just had delivered to the infield pond the day before Duke arrived. Pete was going barn to barn in that old golf cart of his with his dog "Trixie", asking everyone who's dog killed his swans. Finally after going to every other barn at Spk, he stopped by Jim Dennis' barn. Of course Jim was the "favorite son" of Pete, so he had not even suspected any possibility that Jim would have such a dog in his barn. As he is telling Jim about the incident, Duke roled over in the hay/straw stall alongside Pete's cart and cut a loud fart and sneezed about 5 white feathers out of his nose/mouth. I truly saw steam coming out of Pete's ears!!!
Pete didn't say a word but the next day a wire was installed so Duke could run the entire length of the barn
I remember loading and unloading horses off of the TRAIN that ran alongside the track kitchen. O'Brien, Lighthill, Dennis, Crane,Grenier, Valles Key, John Mc Gregor, etc
My brother and I got paid $20 every time it rain because the track provided "mudbikes" and we washed 25 bikes every time it rained. $20 bucks was a lot of money for a 10-14 year old.
I must have a thing for A/C,,, I loved sitting in the cool kitchen watching Bozo's Circus around lunch and the evening news at suppertime.
Watching Wlibert Emig and his wife Rosaly prepare those beautiful palaminoes. They put checker board styles in the hair on their rump.

I remeber Albatross's world record well . I was sitting on the balcony of the next to last barn by Laramie.
I DROVE MY FIRST RACE THE NEXT DAY AT THE SANDWICH MATINEE ...

I remember watching Greyhound lead the post parade for the Columbian Trot every year. He was always stabled on the backside of our barn and I got to know the old black fellow that took care of him. The last time Greyhound stepped foot on the race track, the press was gathered around his stall after the race. The old fellow was giving the ribbons in his mane to some of the reporters. When he took the last one out of Greyhound's mane he handed it to me while I was sitting in the corner of the stall under his feed tub, I still have it.

Race Time , Speedy Scot, bret Hanover and many many more were stabled on the backside of our barn. It was the stakes aisle.

Met all of the top grooms . Kentucky Bill, Thin Dime Murphy, Reddog Ryan, Badeye Dick Pate, Charlie Coleman ( He rubbed 3-4 Hambo winners for the Simpson's) and always had his parrot "Charlie" around.

One time my Dad told Reddog that he had to start coming over to our house every evening for supper so Dad would know that Red had actually eaten something to go along with the whiskey and beer. After missinng supper a few nights , Dad really came down hard on Red. Read him the riot act.
After Dad had finally finished, Red casually said "Don't worry about a thing , Jackie Dale. There is 3 pork chops in every can." as he held up a Schlitz.
Several years later Red died in one of my Dad's stalls at the "Hankins Barn" in Springfield as did several other old time Grand Cicuit grooms that couldn't live the Circuit life anymore.

I could go on for days, but not tonight.

Best horse---- Rambling Willie by several lengths, if people knew what lameness that he overcame, well,,,,,,,,,,,

feelin old
the ol' tanker
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feelin old
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« Reply #27 on: August 02, 2006, 10:14:16 PM »

 Just how good did that blast of cold air feel when you were entering the grandstand or race office after walking from backstretch or parking lot.

A Gil-ism,  "and Johnny Z comes out of the 3hole for no obvious reason"

When I was very young Bobby Shuter and I went to the press box every night for free soda and to get some of Gil's lemondrops that he always had around for his voice.
One time we were headed for the Announcers booth but got intercepted by Earl Williams so we wouldn't walk into Gil's Booth while he had a "special guest".

Earl said there was someone in there but we sure couldn't see much of his guest. She must have been picking something up from the floor because she sure stayed bent over for a long time. lol

I was there EVERY summer of my life.

Shuter and I put a golf cart in the elevator, went to the 3rd floor, Put in reverse got it going, then put it in forward and squeeled the tire and left rubber.
Old Pete Langley never did figure out how those  skid rubber marks got there.
 I always remember waiting for Bobby Dennis (Jim's son) to make it out coming from California.  His dog Duke killed 12 SWANS that Pete Langley had just had delivered to the infield pond the day before Duke arrived. Pete was going barn to barn in that old golf cart of his with his dog "Trixie", asking everyone who's dog killed his swans. Finally after going to every other barn at Spk, he stopped by Jim Dennis' barn. Of course Jim was the "favorite son" of Pete, so he had not even suspected any possibility that Jim would have such a dog in his barn. As he is telling Jim about the incident, Duke roled over in the hay/straw stall alongside Pete's cart and cut a loud fart and sneezed about 5 white feathers out of his nose/mouth. I truly saw steam coming out of Pete's ears!!!
Pete didn't say a word but the next day a wire was installed so Duke could run the entire length of the barn
I remember loading and unloading horses off of the TRAIN that ran alongside the track kitchen. O'Brien, Lighthill, Dennis, Crane,Grenier, Valles Key, John Mc Gregor, etc
My brother and I got paid $20 every time it rain because the track provided "mudbikes" and we washed 25 bikes every time it rained. $20 bucks was a lot of money for a 10-14 year old.
I must have a thing for A/C,,, I loved sitting in the cool kitchen watching Bozo's Circus around lunch and the evening news at suppertime.
Watching Wlibert Emig and his wife Rosaly prepare those beautiful palaminoes. They put checker board styles in the hair on their rump.

I remeber Albatross's world record well . I was sitting on the balcony of the next to last barn by Laramie.
I DROVE MY FIRST RACE THE NEXT DAY AT THE SANDWICH MATINEE ...

I remember watching Greyhound lead the post parade for the Columbian Trot every year. He was always stabled on the backside of our barn and I got to know the old black fellow that took care of him. The last time Greyhound stepped foot on the race track, the press was gathered around his stall after the race. The old fellow was giving the ribbons in his mane to some of the reporters. When he took the last one out of Greyhound's mane he handed it to me while I was sitting in the corner of the stall under his feed tub, I still have it.

Race Time , Speedy Scot, bret Hanover and many many more were stabled on the backside of our barn. It was the stakes aisle.

Met all of the top grooms . Kentucky Bill, Thin Dime Murphy, Reddog Ryan, Badeye Dick Pate, Charlie Coleman ( He rubbed 3-4 Hambo winners for the Simpson's) and always had his parrot "Charlie" around.

One time my Dad told Reddog that he had to start coming over to our house every evening for supper so Dad would know that Red had actually eaten something to go along with the whiskey and beer. After missinng supper a few nights , Dad really came down hard on Red. Read him the riot act.
After Dad had finally finished, Red casually said "Don't worry about a thing , Jackie Dale. There is 3 pork chops in every can." as he held up a Schlitz.
Several years later Red died in one of my Dad's stalls at the "Hankins Barn" in Springfield as did several other old time Grand Cicuit grooms that couldn't live the Circuit life anymore.

I could go on for days, but not tonight.

Best horse---- Rambling Willie by several lengths, if people knew what lameness that he overcame, well,,,,,,,,,,,

feelin old
the ol' tanker
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« Reply #28 on: August 02, 2006, 10:33:58 PM »

Thanks Kim great post.
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Dan Nance
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« Reply #29 on: August 02, 2006, 10:36:45 PM »

Memories of the Sportsman's Park track kitchen.

    I order a meatball sandwich and as I go to take a bite out of it I see a hair sticking out of the side. I reach in to pull the hair out and I see it's 2 roaches in my sandwich. I storm back into the kitchen and tell them there are 2 roaches in my meatball sandwich. The dumb ass asks me if I want them to make me a different sandwich. Yeah right !!  
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race track phil
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« Reply #30 on: August 02, 2006, 10:54:10 PM »

             Thats a great post kim !  great to have good memories of spk

             danny did they charge you extra for the 2 roaches ! the next sandwich probably only 1 roach !      maroon    the track food has never really been good ! the roaches might have been there best dish !
                                          geezer   RTP
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« Reply #31 on: August 02, 2006, 11:12:28 PM »

   Watching Daryl Busse drive an ostrich


   Seeing ; ike and tina turner, blood sweat and tears, captain and tenille,etc

  Rabbit STREAKING

   watching races on the wooden steps overlooking the backside fence

  waiting for the new condition book to come out.

  Remembering how cool it felt once you stepped inside the grandstands from the swealtering heat.
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Double Joker
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« Reply #32 on: August 03, 2006, 04:56:32 PM »

Hoping you had a couple of bucks left to get a dog pop and chips from the stand on Laramie at the truck!Seeing Jacobs on the back of Spensive while holding Charge Plate! flag
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« Reply #33 on: August 03, 2006, 06:56:44 PM »

sitting with dorman perrin in his golf cart on top of the home strecth watching the races and bullshitting with one of the greatest guys i ever met.GOD PLEASE YOU DORMIE.
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getemup
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« Reply #34 on: August 03, 2006, 08:16:52 PM »

Hoping you had a couple of bucks left to get a dog pop and chips from the stand on Laramie at the truck!Seeing Jacobs on the back of Spensive while holding Charge Plate! flag
That truck had the best hot dogs!
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« Reply #35 on: August 03, 2006, 08:22:21 PM »

Hoping you had a couple of bucks left to get a dog pop and chips from the stand on Laramie at the truck!Seeing Jacobs on the back of Spensive while holding Charge Plate! flag
The Spensive incident was at Hawthorne, but close enough.   trotter  TC
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Mel from Moline
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« Reply #36 on: August 04, 2006, 11:38:52 AM »

 My memories of Spk are not so good. Hotter than F%!..... Bad air, stinking air from the water reclamation plant. Rediculous heat and dust in those lousy barns. Two good things tho, the tack rooms had their own bathroom and shower and the paddock was cool. That's about it. Even the surface sucked there most of the time. For a topline "a" track it was a pile of dung in my estimation. BUT.......The horsemen's lives were much better when Moline was open for the cheapies and only Sportsman's was open for the good horses. Til and thru 1990 that was the better way.
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Horses make the humans...not the other way around.
Double Joker
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« Reply #37 on: August 04, 2006, 04:53:30 PM »

That truck had the best hot dogs!
You are right!And I think it was like 2 bucks for a dog chips and pop    flag


PS Thanks TC for the correction on Spensive!
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