Alan Carasso, Managing Editor, Thoroughbred Daily News
As part of a new series, we asked a number of people not born into racing families why they got into the sport, and what their first racing memory was.
How did you get interested in racing?
I always say that I didn’t get into racing so much as racing got into me.
As a pre-teen growing up on Clearwater Drive in Wheeling, about 20 minutes from Arlington Park, a neighbor three doors down owned a low-level claimer named Diablo Morn. I can still hear the voice of the legendary Phil Georgeff calling such local institutions that went by the names of Buttered Toast and Jeremy Jet and Fritz Barthold and Gee Can He Dance and Rossi Gold. They were always fun to follow. These are the most distant memories.
I always used to look at the charts in the next day’s paper, reconstructing races in my head, and I attended my first Arlington Million in 1983 (at age 16 and cashed my infamous $17.80 show bet on Tolomeo). Admittedly, my interest in racing nearly dissipated once I went away to college; Champaign-Urbana isn’t exactly a hotbed of racing, but there was an OTB not too far from the campus at the University of Illinois and I did make it there not infrequently.
It was a few years after getting my advanced degree (in German, in case you were wondering) that my fandom really took flight. In 1995, I hooked up with a group of guys in the burbs and we’d make it out to Arlington most every Saturday and Sunday morning around 5:30 to railbird. We would talk shop, we got to know many of the local trainers, we socialized, we became great friends.
In the next few years I made my first trip to Keeneland (fall 1995–think Inside Information, Mariah’s Storm third in the Spinster), attended the Breeders’ Cups at Woodbine and Hollywood in 1996 and 1997, respectively, and saw Cape Town ‘win’ and Cornado’s Quest freak out prior to the ’98 Florida Derby. You are, I’m certain, aware of my infatuation with Cigar, but it’d be him if I needed to pinpoint a single animal. Serena’s Song in the exacta.
As I wrote in my ode to Bob Curran a few weeks ago, I never in my wildest dreams thought that I could end up being an Thoroughbred ‘insider’ or ‘expert’ (don’t judge me too harshly). But fate has intervened as sometimes it does, and my time at this publication has broadened my horizons, to put it very mildly. It has allowed me to really get to know our business. Has allowed me to travel to places like Hong Kong and Singapore. Has allowed me to meet and speak to fascinating people and tell their stories.
It truly has been a dream come true.