SALES STAKES DAY, YEARLING SALES TOMORROW – but we’ve lost a great guy

THOROUGHBLOG will miss our very good friend BOB SUMMERS, the HAPPY HANDICAPPER…

He loved the racing, he covered the Canadian Triple Crown in depth and enthusiastically every year for the BUFFALO NEWS, and for sure he was getting ready for the Woodbine Mike and the big races of the fall.

Go to Churchill Downs for the Derby? Bob’s there. Go to a press room for a coffee and watch replays? Bob’s there.

A lot of us Toronto media enjoyed our times with Bob – he was funny, interesting and loved to talk handicapping…

 thanks to the Buffalo News for the nice story today:




Updated: September 05, 2010, 11:19 PM

As he was about to complete his Saturday night shift on the sports copy desk of The Buffalo News, Robert J. “Bob” Summers announced that he would treat the staff to pizza next Saturday.

What’s the occasion, he was asked.

“I’m going to celebrate receiving my first Social Security check,” he said.

A few hours later, Summers died of an apparent heart attack after he was stricken at the Seneca Niagara Casino and taken to Niagara Falls Memorial Hospital. He was 66.

Summers, who wrote the Happy Handicapper horse racing column and covered thoroughbred and harness racing as well as the Buffalo Blizzard


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BOB’S LAST COLUMN (not including news reports on races, his sense of humour was very cool..this is his last humours piece)

Memories good reason to return to the track

Updated: August 14, 2010, 10:28 PM

Ever have a 4 a.m., “Holy Cow!” moment?

A few nights ago, the Happy Handicapper woke up startled by the thought that this year is the 50th anniversary of his first bet on a horse race — at Buffalo Raceway on a pacer named Junior Goose.

No doubt, his memory was stirred by reading the promotional material — both online and in the Batavia Downs printed program — about tonight’s “Back To The Track” promotion at the nation’s harness tracks.

“We Miss You” reads one compelling poster, showing an empty, weather-beaten bench of the type seen at most race tracks these days.

Rows of empty seats are also shown in an online video while an announcer asks “Where have you been?” and continues to say “Harness racing hasn’t lost its excitement, color or chance to win.”

The promotion is the brainchild of Mike Tanner, executive vice president of the United States Trotting Association. According to the USTA Web Site, he got the idea after “noting that on-track attendance has been in decline in recent years” (Duh!) and “his aim is to simply remind everyone that going to the harness races remains an exciting form of entertainment.”