After fanatically following horse racing all through my youth (1970s), I went away to college and moved on with life—and away from the sport—for about 20 years, as regular readers already know. What great racing went on during those “lost” years for me I’ve had to catch up on in retrospect.
Thus, with news that the latest group of racing’s Hall of Fame inductees includes jockey Randy Romero, how fortunate it was that a review copy of Bill Heller’s Randy Romero’s Remarkable Ride (Pelican Publishing, 2010) arrived in the mail, as Romero’s exploits were nearly totally unknown to me.
What I learned, in a nutshell, is that Romero endured a litany of painful injuries during an astonishingly prolific career that included riding titles from Louisiana Downs to Belmont Park. He also lived a life fraught with very real human problems—an abusive controlling father, issues with controlling his weight, and meeting and marrying the love of his life only to grow apart, divorce, and come back together once more. The book provides insight into some of horse racing’s iconic personalities as well, and most gripping are the chapters that deal with Romero’s connections to the great Personal Ensign and the tragic Go For Wand.
The book’s organization is a bit distracting at times as Heller makes the mistake I’ve found many writers make when writing books on horse racing: they find it difficult to sometimes flesh out a story for those who don’t know the sport well. Yet, what is conveyed by Heller is compelling. At times it reads like Romero spent more time injured than healthy, but the minor injuries pale in comparison to the physical and emotional damage done by his horrific sweatbox accident at Oaklawn Park. Ultimately, it was kidney failure, though, that changed his life forever.
On Thursday, August 12—one day prior to his induction into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame—Randy Romeo will be the guest of honor at a full day of private racing and VIP Reception, hosted by the National Kidney Foundation of Northeast New York. What a unique opportunity for racing and Saratoga enthusiasts! The day’s activities will include a day at the track on “The Porch” reserved exclusively for NKF complete with track admission, open bar, and served lunch, followed by an evening reception and private meet and greet, as well as book signing with Randy, the evening before his induction into the Hall of Fame. Bill Heller, noted author and local handicapping favorite for the Gazette, will be with us for the day, providing handicapping for event attendees. The evening reception will be held at the beautiful Gideon Putnam Hotel in Saratoga, and will include the book signing and meet and greet with Randy. This event is limited to only 75 guests, allowing for more one on one time with Randy.
Pricing varies from $150.00 per person for “A Day of Racing” with author Bill Heller, $175.00 per person for VIP Reception with Randy Romero and $300.00 for a full event day and will benefit The National Kidney Foundation of Northeast New York. Attendance is limited, so if you are interested you can register online here, or phone (518) 458-9697.