Kentucky Derby Winner Victor Espinoza at Santa Anita Autograph signing

Saturday morning, after being out of town for the last few weekends in a row, it was just an incredible feeling to walk into Santa Anita for the races.

My brother and I were guests of the track, with free club house passes and programs, but this was no ordinary day at the track. We had our agenda set, still buzzing from the Kentucky Derby, my brother and I got in line for an autographed poster from Victor Espinoza, jockey on California Chrome, one of the sweetest horses I’ve ever bet on. I was also there to claim my cash from an online bet. There is an xpressbet window at Santa Anita, and I use it quite a bit. This is how I bet on the derby from the comfort of a CPK in the Mirage Sportsbook. Slick.

I was there (Vegas) to put money on California Chrome. This horse has carried a lot of my money on his back, and along with Commanding curve, won me enough to break me even for the entire Vegas weekend, with some playing around money left over. He’s a beast, beating the rest of the pack by 3 or 4 lengths and still pulling away, we’ve been following this horse for a while. My brother still carries around footage on his phone, of California Chrome winning the Santa Anita Derby earlier this year.

Well, Saturday at Santa Anita, his jockey Espinoza was there to sign autographs, and the line was long and early. The advertised time was 11-12, but actually took place at around 12-1. We did not mind, we waited in line and chatted with strangers about bets we’d made, and our lucky weekend in Vegas. We speculated on the Preakness and the Belmont, and there were rumors flying around about horses that were not going to race in the Preakness.  A couple of Santa Anita workers laid out the posters, and a bunch of California Chrome T Shirts for $15 a pop.

Once Espinoza arrived, a cheer went up. The feeble cheer an early, tired Saturday morning makes. Espinoza took his place underneath a pop up tent, I snuck around the side and was snapping pics.  I heard a bigshot in a suit say “Oh, we can speed up the process”, worried about the long line. I was reminded how small jockeys were when you see them up close. Damn.

Espinoza started signing immediately. The line moved fast, and people who were expecting pictures and conversation were shuffled past him, handed a signed posted and sent on their way.

I made sure my brother went around for a pic, and snapped a couple with my brother. My brother didn’t say anything to Espinoza. He posed for a quick pic, grabbed his poster and was about to run off without taking MY PIC, until I called him back and made sure he took a pic.

I was going to address Espinoza in Spanish, but he was speaking in English, so instead of posing for a pic, I told him, “You know, a bunch of went to Vegas for the derby, and I had a lot of fun watching you ride that horse and won some good money on it.”

He paused and looked up and said “Oh yeah?” and had what appeared to be a look of enjoyment. I told him it was true, and that we had a great time, and thanked him profusely and he sort of chuckled as I walked off. He’s one of the greats, and I was pretty stoked to meet him so shortly after he had done so well in the Derby.


RIP Article # 2 in a row. This time, it is the mighty “El Burrito”

My last post was a total bummer. It was about how my beloved Chihuahua had passed away. Nobody wants to write or read about that. Stiff upper lip, steady as she goes, onward, etc. . .

Then Tuesday on the way to work, I had to hit my brakes.  A big old Ford slammed into me. He rammed me into a full sized Chevy truck, a Cal Trans, tank behemoth of a truck. I hit him hard enough to slam him into a little Volvo.

The airbag popped in my face in that slow motion stereotypical shock and awareness of a big auto accident, and I knew I had been rear ended. Hard. 

I turned around, because I thought, in shock, “I’ve been rear ended, I wonder how bad my truck is?” I saw the Ford, grill split and radiator steaming on the freeway, smashed up behind me. It hadn’t occurred to look toward the front of my truck, but when I did, I saw the hood crumpled up way too close to the windshield, like a piece of painted foil all twisted and mangled like a crunchy dry leaf.

This whole time I was in real shock. I was trying to figure out what the airbag was, as it had apparently appeared out of nowhere and did not make any sense to me. My phone had fallen down to the passenger foot area, and I picked it up. There were weird gasses in the cab because of the airbag, and possibly some steam from the radiator. Not sure. It was all so sudden and so instant. My  whole world just came crashing to a screeching halt for a second.

I was in shock. I tied to gather my thoughts, and so I looked at my phone and snapped a pic to record the time and GPS coordinates, a trick I learned in CERT training. All this was coming back to me. I dialed 9-1-1 carefully and pressed send, head in a fog, and spoke with a man on the other end. While I was talking, I wiggled my toes and fingers to make sure everything worked. I felt every big bone, and twisted my ankles around. Everything was working. The guy on the other end of the phone asked what happened.

“I was just in a big accident on the 134 westbound at Cahuenga, my name is Alfred Montez.”The guy at the other end said that help was on its way, and by that time, the Metro Patrol was behind me, lights blaring. I hung up the phone, as I figured this guy would get CHP There. All this was going through my mind, and so my mind went to some interesting places. One thought was “What if I’m really in shock, like I’ve heard about, and there’s a big piece of metal in my head?”

So I looked in the mirror, almost expecting a rod going through my eye, or some other gnarly gore. My whole body was still buzzing from the accident. . . . The lumbar area of my seat felt like a mule kicking me in the lower back, I felt like my back was vibrating, but not anything worse than taking a good tackle and falling wrong, or just taking a bad suplex. You know, guy shit. I kid. I started filming with my cell phone for documentation purposes, but here is some of it edited a bit, with some awesome sappy sad music because this was a HUGE bummer for me. You can also see the Ford that killed my Burrito in there. I will never, ever, in my whole life, own a Ford truck.

It was a nasty wreck worthy of a sigalert, a tow off the freeway, and a total loss of my beloved “Burrito”, my 2006 Tacoma, and the first vehicle I ever bought new.  My friend who lived nearby was listening to the morning traffic report and heard about a “4 car pile up”. That was me! So I was in the news, got that going for me.

My truck was mashed. I was hit by a big old truck, who for some reason was fine. A full sized Ford. Colorado plates nailed me going REALLY fast. I can’t tell you how fast, but the forces involved made a mess of my truck.

Enough. Enough madness and bad luck, I’ve had it. I’m fine, but I don’t have a daily driver for the first time in about 12 years. I work really far from home. I need a car. I’m also have a Vegas trip planned for the Kentucky Derby in four days. What the hell am I supposed to do?

A few weeks ago I uncharacteristically dropped and broke a growler of Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin IPA trying to pour myself a beer. A full gallon growler, bigger than usual. I didn’t even get a taste of it. Well, actually I did at the brewery, just enough to know what I was missing, and hate the situation even more.

All my life, I’ve thought the following about country music:

All you need to lose to write a great country song, is a truck, a dog and a six pack.

Well, I’ve got material. I’ve got so much material right now. I’ve got challenges, failures and successes that I can’t even write about, at least not here. Shit has been tough and good in other ways at the same time lately. I feel due for some good luck, people tell me the same. I try to be good. . . People tell me I am due for a good run, I should have some built up Karma. . . others tell me don’t push it, or take it easy. . . people who don’t know me that well.  My buddy Ian told me to let it blow over, take it easy in Vegas and get some R&R in.

“Fuck it all” I tell myself. Fuck all the bad shit. . . I should just go to Vegas as scheduled. I borrow my buddies car, use it to go to work and Ian rides home with me that Thursday night. Then straight off to Vegas a full night early.

The Vegas trip will get its own entry, it deserves it.

The silver lining in the car situation, I suppose is my new friend Peggy. So much to tell. In a nutshell, after a bureaucratic mess of running around printing this, scanning that, mailing this and paying for that, moving imaginary money that I worked for across electronic banks and smiling for the nice lady and signing on the dotted line. . . . after all that . . .and without further ado I give you my new ship;

Peggy Subaru.