By Dave Johnson
Every few days I splurge for a breakfast at my local diner. Years ago, I remember stopping in my hometown of St. Louis for fresh fruit, two eggs, toast and coffee for less than five bucks. Now in Manhattan, the cost is $14.05 plus tip. That’s 11 British Pounds and 8 pence. With the Royal Ascot meet starting Tuesday, I have to think in terms of London. Housing, betting, transportation, betting, breakfast and betting. There have been times in my life that it was either breakfast or betting. (Not at Ascot, but rather Cahokia Downs or Fairmount Park.)
I was actually shocked before my trip across the pond; whilst having my $14.05 eye opener, a well-dressed neighbor stopped by my table. Since he sometimes quoted our SiriusXM satellite radio broadcast, I knew he was a racing fan, and he knew who I was.
“Foolish Humor on Tuesday,” he said. “Sorry,” I replied, “I’ll be out of the country next week.” ”I know,” he barked back, “Foolish Humor runs at Royal Ascot next Tuesday. Wesley trains him.” He disappeared into the rain.
This was an important first. Now I was being given “a banker” (that’s what they call a tip, good thing, steam or a push in England.) And I was getting it 3,471 miles (or 5,586 kilometers) from the track!
As soon as I got home, I punched in the entries for the first day of The Royal Ascot meeting. In the very first race of the meet, there was Foolish Humor, an easy winner of his only race at Belmont Park last month.
Only trouble thus far is that Wesley Ward has nominated 6 of the 42 two year-olds for the Group 2 Queen Ann Stakes. My wager (i.e. “punt” or “flutter”) will have to wait until next week.
But now I am wondering why. Why? Why this interest in international Racing? Why this fascination with sport so far away? Why has racing over there become the topic of chatter in New York? And the highest quality racing that fans (punters) can place a wager (a flutter) on.
Is it the fact that racing fans are hungry for the now-daily television of one of the great racing meets in the world?
Is it because many more horses from more American trainers are now setting their sights on this Royal meeting? Do they love the pageantry and pomp and spectacle of this great show? Is it because the fairy tale is real, as the royal family arrives every day, in a Landau coach pulled by a team of white horses?
The answer to all of the above questions is a resounding “yes!”
The ultimate five day treat, Royal Ascot, starts on Tuesday.
Editor’s note: Dave Johnson is a racecaller and sportscaster (famous for his signature `And down the stretch they come!’) who is attending his 25th consecutive Royal Ascot meeting this year. He is writing a daily Ascot report for the TDN from an American’s perspective.