Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Lone Star's Unpopular - and Heartbreaking - Decision

I’ve been away from my keyboard for a couple of weeks, and with good reason. I finally took the plunge and had Photo-Refractive Laser Thingy Vision Correction last week. So needless to say, looking at a computer screen was tantamount to Chinese water torture.

Anyway, yesterday I finally found some time to catch up on the recent events of the Horse Racing World. Zenyatta’s Farewell Parade … Baffert’s 2000th win … Layoffs at Lone Star Park …


A few days ago, Gary West reported that several employees of Lone Star Park were laid off last Friday. And as I continued to read his blog entry, I reached a startling conclusion: something was clearly wrong with my vision because it said that Post Time Pavilion Director and good friend to Post Parade, John Records, was reportedly one of the layoffs!


Confirmation was required; I called Lone Star Park and indignantly demanded to speak with Drew Shubeck. Mr. Shubeck was not available so I had to settle for the Vice President, G.W. Hail, who confirmed the bad news,

Sue(irate): What pin-headed moron would make such a ridiculously stupid decision to layoff one of the greatest and friendliest and affable and approachable people associated with Lone Star Park and in horse racing overall?!?!?

Okay, I really didn’t say that.

Sue: Mr. Hail, can you confirm that John Records was one of the laid off employees?

G.W. Hail: There were a number of full-time and part-time employees … (insert corporate speak here) … layoffs required because we are committed to the return of live racing, April 14th … (insert more corporate speak here) … yes, he was one of the employees laid off … (insert more corporate speak) … committed to live racing, April 14th.

The gist of the conversation was that Lone Star Park – foundering without any real ownership other than bankrupt MEC which really doesn’t exist, and unknown intentions from Global Gaming – is trying to stay afloat and commit to horsemen that there will be racing next spring. And like a listing ship, struggling to make it into port, the captain orders all topside weight overboard. Not that I would consider John Records topside weight or anything like that.

It’s no secret that over the past few years, I have written of John Records, many times referring to him as Super-Manager and Friendliest Guy on the Planet. He knows customers, resolves troubles, chats up lively conversations, and is quick to share a laugh. I’ve brought numerous “first-timers” to the track and John has personally provided facility tours and shared insight each time. He is Lone Star Park’s biggest asset. If it were not for him, I would not have met Calvin Borel or Garret Gomez; John made much of horse racing accessible for me, the cheap bettor and turf writer wannabe. And he’s always been kind and generous to my children; Alice adores him, demanding on each sojourn to the racetrack that I “call my friend” so she can score some ice cream and dole out a giant hug.

According to a source, some of the laid off employees will be invited to return to their positions come April, maybe sooner if the whole ownership debacle can be resolved. However, it would be of no surprise if some other successful and notable racetrack would snap up John. He is a treasure.

Although there will be a team of managers taking over his duties, per G.W. Hail, it will not be the same, at least for me. I will miss the bright sparkle and friendly greeting when I wander into the Post Time Pavilion. If I wander into the Post Time Pavilion …

Good luck, my good friend, John.

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