I remember heading on the streetcar to Greenwood, nightly, as a kid, to play the races. When you reached the track you'd invariably meet characters of all stripes, and often times you'd sit with them, but rarely would the conversation be anything more than "who do you like?"
One gentleman I would see at the track almost every race night, and chat with, was a nice fella who never seemed to have a job. He was kind of just there every time I was. He was a harness fan through and through.
One evening, (many months after I had been chatting with him) between races I asked how he made his living, and he quietly (looking around, almost like he didn't want anyone to know) said "I write songs".
I said "Cool. Would I know any?"
He replied, "Maybe. Have you ever heard "Go for Soda" by Kim Mitchell? I co-wrote that, along with others on that album."
Sure I heard of it. You could not be Canadian and not. It turns out he not only wrote and produced with Mitchell, but also with Rush.
I still remember his name. It was Pye.
I chatted about this tonight with a friend who had a similar harness racing story.
Yesterday (or any other year) watching the Breeders' Cup, there are tons of celebrities - owning, betting, or being there. And time after time on television and otherwise I honestly find (my conversationalist tonight agreed) there is a real "look at me and who I am" type atmosphere surrounding some in the sport. Maybe I am mistaken, but that's the vibe I get. It even seems to seep through on Facebook and twitter at times.
In harness, whether it be owning, or training, or sitting in the stands it doesn't seem like that at all.
Right or wrong on my friend and I's comparison, it's a huge reason why I am a fan of this sport. It's one where if you have a million dollars and a champion pacer, a desk job at a bank and a 12 claimer, or if you are sitting in the stands betting, we're all a part of it, and no one seems to care one way or another who you are, what you do, what you have, or where you came from.
They just seem to care who you like in the fifth.