My good friend Roger Way passed away today from Cancer. He was a fighter till the end and I’ll do my best to tell people who never had the chance to know him what type of guy he was.
I spoke with Roger for the last time a couple of weeks ago and we had a great talk. I told him that he lived life on his own terms and helped a lot of people along the way and that I was very proud to call him my friend and partner as a Horseplayer Advocate. If you were ever in a fight for something important you always wanted Roger on your side. He wanted to preserve Horse Racing for future generations because he had loved the game as much as anyone I’ve ever met. He always believed that right would win out over wrong when it came to Horse Racing and because of him we had our first industry meeting at Santa Anita last year. We participated in several industry meetings after that. In just about every meeting he would get pissed off at someone and bang his fist on the table trying to get them to just understand common sense. I am laughing just thinking about some of those meetings. The main team consisted of me, Jeff Platt, and Barry Meadow along with Roger. Roger also played a big role in getting the 14% Players Pick 5 put in and what a success that has become. He was very proud of the bet because it proved our point over and over again. We would laugh when we talked about the bet and how the TOC thought it would be a loser. Wow did we laugh when on closing day at Hollywood Park the bet broke all records for exotics handle in the first race of the day at any U.S. Track.
I’ve known Roger for about three years and during that time I learned quite a bit about him and his passion for life and his passion for Horse Racing. Roger was the west coast H.A.N.A. Representative. Our first battle together was against synthetic surfaces and as we moved into 2011 we pivoted toward SB1072 and the takeout raise. During the first few months of 2011 I would wake up at about 3:00 am and try to find news that favored our position and move it to the various message boards. Roger would also be up early and we would usually have our first phone call around 6:30 am to discuss our strategy. There were days during that time when we spoke ten times a day and at the end of those long days we would laugh about what we were doing and who we were fighting against. Roger and I were constantly working the phones and emails to advance our position. We always ended the day with a phone call and usually one of us said that we knew something would develop tomorrow and we would be there to take on all comers once again
While he was sick he had lots of people calling him and supporting him along with neighbors and friends who were with him till the end. He was one of those guys that even when he was sick was worried about everyone else and didn’t want us to feel badly for him. Just to show you how unselfish he was, one day I got a call from a close friend of his who was handling his estate and the person tells me that Roger told him to make sure that he sent me $1000 to go to the track one day in his name and hoist a beer in his honor after he passed away. Can you imagine that? I intend to go one day in the near future along with a couple of his friends and hopefully one of the Tracks will name a race in his honor for the day. I know he’ll be there with us in spirit with a big smile on his face and a thumbs up.
One of Rogers good friends was Lester. They say that you learn about someones true character when they are under pressure, and boy did Lester come through with flying colors. He was by his side till the end and never let him down. He was close friends with Roger for several years and visited him just about every day.
I will never forget my friend Roger Way and may he rest in peace. I have a feeling that when we meet up again in the hereafter we’ll find another worthy cause to fight for as a team once again.