Late Fall racing is always hard for me to focus on. The snow is falling outside my windows, and yet the horses are running. The sun doesn't come up till 7:30 AM and it's gone by 4:30 PM and yet the horses are still running. I've tried Woodbine in early December, and it's just not that fun.
With all of that working against the ponies, the death of Wanderin Boy and the serious injury to the filly Springside brought me back to that dark place I found myself in on the first Saturday this past May when Eight Belles died so senselessly cooling down.
With few races of significance between now and early January, The Turk thought it was a good time to push away from the computer and descend into mindless consumerism. But that means different things to different people, and to the Turk that means focusing on the the vices that support my horse-player ethos well and the fashion style that this forty-something finds himself trying to refine.
I started with bourbon. I'm a Maker's Mark man. I like it straight up or with a bit of cola. This week I bought Buffalo Trace straight bourbon whiskey and Woodford Reserve small batch bourbon. All three have similarities, and all three went down smooth and contained several flavors that my unsophisticated palate would have never identified. Woodford Reserve by far had the most oak barrelled flavor. It's a man's drink, bourbon. It's not the sort of thing that young people associate themselves with. It's something you grow into, learn to appreciate. It's pure Kentucky horse lover and it's important for any Turk worth his tickets to be able to talk the talk. I have a few more to taste, but the education continues.
I've spent sometime on another key horse-player vice, cigars. I broke down and bought myself a Zippo Blu lighter. We are fans of a sport that is full of tradition, and I picked a lighter synonymous with retro cool and I had it engraved with the name and birth year of Papa Turk, Little Turk and myself. It's an heirloom now, a one day conversation piece when Little Turk is sharing a cigar with his grandson at the 185 th Traver's day. I'm not advocating excessive smoking, but you can't live your life in a bubble. Low fat foods, diet soda, anti-oxidant pills, blah blah blah: Have some vices and embrace them.
The final element of horse player consumerism brought me to the Filson website for a new wool vest. The Turk used to be a slave to technical fabrics, high end water repellent, wind repellent, rip stop stuff that cost big bucks and looked Telluride cool. A year ago I had an awakening and discovered wool. Nature's high tech fabric. Warm, water and wind repellent, it makes me feel timeless. With my brimmed hat and black leather gloves, I'm the model horse-player in winter hibernation.
It's funny how your life evolves. I find myself in mid life form, handicapping horses, indulging in bourbon and cigars, and wearing fabrics and hats I wouldn't have been caught dead in when The Smiths and The Cure were my role models. Frank Whitely, John Gosden, Jimmy Jones, Gary Stevens, Andrew Beyer, these are my style models now.
The two year old's will be blowing out three candles soon. Merry Christmas indeed.