Ted's a degenerate racetrack buddy who moonlights as a writer for the alternative publication the Chicago Reader. He'd managed to sneak articles about horse racing into the Reader over the years, probably appealing to the hipster "it's so retro and out of style it is cool" crowd. And now all of a sudden he had scammed up a deal to write a book about racing and horseplayers.
Ted had been meeting, greeting, and interviewing mostly degenerate horseplayers from all walks of life during Spring 2003 at Hawthorne and Arlington, but thought he might want to take a look at life outside the confines of the Chicago tracks' "horse racing as purely business" atmosphere, and with someone who was not a degenerate. Not a degenerate? Naturally he thought of me, and asked me if I might be heading out to visit any podunk tracks in the near future. As it happened, I wasn't, but I could probably rig something up in a jiffy, especially since I knew the Miles City, Montana, Bucking Horse Sale was coming up pretty quick.
However, a drive all the way out to Montana just to see one meet seemed kind of a waste of a potentially valuable travel opportunity, and there was a couple spots I'd always wanted to re-visit, plus a few I didn't necessarily really want to revisit all that much but hey they happened to be on the way, more or less, and running live horse racing. So the trip quickly took on overly epic proportions. I imagined myself the American equivalent of Horse Racing Abroad like had arranged my trips to Europe, except on this trip there weren't going to be any luxury buses, or luxury hotels, or reserved dining rooms at tracks, or reserved seats anywhere, or jackets required, or any of that nonsense, and if Ted lost his luggage I wasn't going to go chasing after it. But besides that, exactly the same. I was going to show Ted enough podunk tracks to keep him satisfied for a good long time, if there was anything I could do about it.
So, funded in part by the ill-gotten gains from my recent coups at the Hawthorne handicapping contests (Thanks, Haw!), but mostly by a portion of Ted's book advance, off we went, in a mighty Rent-A-Chumpmobile, on one of the most quickly-constructed and under-planned McChump major tours in the history of major McChump tours. I have no idea what Ted thought of the whole excruciating affair, or what he is going to write about from all this, but I had fun. Mostly.
Ed.: Eventual book Ted pooped out was "Horseplayers: Life at the Track", by Ted McClelland.