Rockingham Park, “THE ROCK”, closed forever at the end of August, 2016. Racing stopped there in 2009, but the track stayed open for simulcasting. It’s gone, like so many tracks in New England. They’re all gone with the exception of Suffolk Downs, which only holds a small meet until their fate is decided. I went there this summer to get some final pictures. I loved it and hated it! I didn’t get to the backside stable area; I unfortunately asked permission and they said no! (It really is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.) I went there a lot through the years, enjoyed it very much. There was a time that it was knee-deep in spectators, it was a great place once! When I went this summer, there was a small crowd there for simulcasting. No one, not a soul, was outside but me. I walked around a lot, sad most of the time. It is sad. I made my first “bet” there, and won a Daily Double for $143.00. I was with my parents, and my father jumped in the air because he had bet the same ticket! A grown man, jumping like that!! I recall picking the horses based on their pedigrees; and they both had Man o’ War in there. Winners for sure! It was a nostalgic trip, a hard trip to make for me, but I had to go. This first picture really choked me up; The Winner’s Circle.
And, I am taking the liberty of saying, here and now, that the roses that were in bloom that day in the Winner’s Circle, surely once part of the pretty surroundings, there among the scraggly weeds, cracked asphalt, broken chain link fence and crumbling concrete, were there for a reason. They were for me, from the horses. They knew I’d be coming to honor them one last time. And, I did.
This next picture is the track kitchen. Imagine all the hash that was slung there?
This man worked at Rockingham Park for decades. He was still there, guarding his post, to direct people to certain areas for the simulcasting. So cordial, so dignified. Imagine all of the people he saw through the years? Countless. The day I was there, maybe 20, but there he was, doing his job as always. The Salt of the Earth.
If they only knew…
Please see pictures that Carly Kaiser took last week; she’s a thoroughbred enthusiast and a great photographer! We should have gone the same day! Thank you, Carly.