Lee Pitts: It’s the Pitts 11-28-11
Cow racing started off innocently enough.
We were just a bit overstocked on the ranch so it was only natural that every time the cattle saw the hay truck they would run to greet it. And since man by nature is a gaming animal, it was only natural that my wife and I would bet on the outcome of these mad dashes by half starved bovine sprinters. It took some of the drudgery out of feeding.
“I’ll bet five dollars on Sore Foot to win, place or show up,” I told my wife. Sore Foot was thin and emaciated like all good running Greyhounds.
My wife, the bookie, took the bet. She suggested another wager. “I’ll bet you that our old Hereford cow will reach the truck first. If I win, I get to drive the truck and you have to feed.”
“That’s a bet,” I eagerly agreed. After all, my wife’s pick, the oldest cow in the herd, was racing with blinkers … two pinkeye patches.
My five dollar bet returned four dollars for Sore Foot’s third place showing. It turned out that cow racing was just like the cow business. Spend five, win four. The old Hereford cow came in first going away and my wife really rubbed it in by driving too fast and then rapidly applying the break to see if I could stay on top of the hay.
At this point my wife became a cow racing addict. All she wanted to do was feed cows. In the second race she again bet on the old Hereford cow who she now called Timeto Thinkrich. I bet my gloves she wouldn’t win. I had inside information this time. The old cow had given birth to a calf the day before and I knew she wouldn’t leave the new calf for a flake of hay.
The cow went off at 20:1 and my wife called the race. “The cow’s are at the gate. Here’s the truck horn and they are off. Timeto Thinkrich is in the lead followed by Woman O’War in second. Go Girl Go is next followed closely by Secretary.” (Needless to say, my wife names almost all our cows.) “Foolish Pleasure rounds out the field,” she continued. Foolish Pleasure was Sore Foot’s new name and for some strange reason, I bet on her again. In a photo finish my wife won the daily double. The old Hereford cow finished first and her newborn calf came in second. My wife stood proudly in the winner’s circle.
It was at this point that I became a professional racing cow trainer. I had a good 2-year-old running heifer in my stable that I called Buck Passer. I called her that because she was good at transferring property. I fed her extra feed to get her in better running shape but the racing steward, who was also my bookie and my wife, tried to disqualify her for having traces of LA 200 in her blood.
I trained Buck Passer with heel flies.
Race day was cold and dreary and it would be a muddy track. I bet all my money and my good woolen shirt on Buck Passer to win. She went off at even money.
My wife again called the race. As the old Hereford cow crossed the finish line my wife looked through her opera glasses and informed me that Buck Passer was with the neighbor’s bull. She was not running. Buck Passer had taken me for a ride.
Love and racing simply do not mix. When my wife won she got all the money, but when she lost she still somehow ended up with all the money but in addition she got mad and wouldn’t speak to me. So I’d say the overall results were both good and bad.
The only thing I’d learned from my cow racing experience was that when I bet on the races I lost everything I brought with me. If my wife keeps taking my money maybe I’ll take her with me to the hog races next summer at the county fair.
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One out of every three acres in the U.S. is rangeland. Two-thirds of these are privately owned, mainly by ranchers who graze their livestock in the open country of the American West.