Staff off to Oaklawn

I thought this was cool. Have coaching staffs of the past done things like this? I feel like staff chemistry is a pretty underrated thing that doesn’t get talked about much.

Makes me laugh just thinking of Petrino doing something like this.


I love it.

You find me any other coaching staff in the nation that engages in physical practices against each other in blazers and then takes a plane that same day to go recruit. If Sam Pittman sitting in your living room telling you that he just pancaked coach LeBlanc four hours ago doesn’t make you sign instantly then I don’t think anything will.

Way to go, coaches. Keep working hard and working for each other. You’re making us proud.

The only thing they’re recruiting today is exacta tickets at Oaklawn. It’s still a dead period, just like it’s been for the last 13 months. We can’t go visit recruits and they can’t visit us.

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There were a number of years when the Razorbacks’ Red-White Game was scheduled on the same day as the Arkansas Derby. I thought it was a good thing when the Razorbacks quit scheduling the spring game at the same time as the derby. I assume there are a lot of people who like to attend both.

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No doubt.

Petrino would ride by on a horse with a blonde on back.

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I never have understood horse racing. I would take a plane to Augusta, but not to Hot Springs.

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Coach Pittman loves Oaklawn

I never liked to give the track my money. I guess if I knew how to pick the races I’d like it. But I don’t.

We spent a lot of time on horses back in the 70’s. Training them and competing in rodeo’s (all over Arkansas). I was never much on betting at Oaklawn but watching those horses was just marvelous. Beautiful creatures each with their own personality. I miss them.

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My dog show friend and I like to go to races. We never bet, we’re just not interested. But we love to look at the conformation (build) of the horses and make our choices based on that.

Just like with dogs, there are sometimes poorly built horses that win solely on heart. I remember seeing one of the ugliest quarter horses of all time at Fair Meadows in Tulsa, he was ewe-necked and just weird, but he won.

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I know how to pick the horses, and I still don’t like to go to the tracks.

Too many people.

I had to cover the Arkansas Derby a couple of times when I was at UPI. One year David Cassidy, the teen heartthrob from the “Partridge Family”, owned one of the Derby entries. I was struck by how tiny he was (not much bigger than the jockeys) and the white suit he wore on a rainy, muddy day. If his horse had won he would have ruined that suit.

Made it a little easier than my grandpa, who lived about three blocks from the track, was working one of the primo parking lots at Oaklawn. He got me a spot very close to the clubhouse.

My mother (RIP) could pick the horses way back when. Now she never bet on any of them and would never share her picks until after the races were ran. Just quietly making her picks in the newspaper. So if you wanted the sports section you better read it early otherwise it was gone till next day. You didn’t dare try to peek over her shoulder or try to be sly to see her picks at the time.
She never shared her method or if she played and researched the horses very much.
I found she was fond of the greys if they were in the field (not every one of them, but picked some winners from some gangly looking grey horses that paid incredible odds).

Petrino would go to the Jockey Club. It’s well known Bret liked casinos but was also a causal horse fan. He has attended the Kentucky Derby and either the Preakness or Belmont.

I know several assistant coaches who fell in love with the ponies while coaching at Arkansas. Most of them had not attended live racing until coming to Fayetteville.

Robb Smith and his wife became fans of the horses while at Arkansas.

Pitt always hosted a KY Derby party at his place when he was at Arkansas, the first time, I don’t know about Georgia.

He did at Ga. too.


A few Oaklawn stories from the early 80s…with very limited funds.

Axe the Fool. My buddy noticed the owner and his entourage where standing at the finish line. We each booked $20 to win. The easiest money we ever earned at Oaklawn.

Suliman. Great horse. Booked $60 to win. Skipped college just for this one race. Poor horse. Broke its leg sprinting to the finish line. The most painful loss ever experienced at Oaklawn.

Baby Talk. Once again skipped college just for this one race. Was going to bet $100 to win. Just sure it was going to win. Same buddy talked me out of it. Stated it was stepping up in class and couldn’t win three races in a row. Changed my bet to $20 to win. Yes, Baby Talk won. The most mixed emotions I ever had at Oaklawn. Happy the horse won, pissed I missed out on so much $$$.