CHRIS ERSKINE / FAN OF THE HOUSE

He's riding his luck at Santa Anita Park

"Baaaaaaaaa," says my buddy Craig.

Ninth race. Needing to stretch my legs, I stroll down to the paddock, which might be my favorite place in all the world — the perfect park, almost British in the way it blends green benches and shade and shrubbery. If they sold crypts in the paddock, I would buy two — one for me, one for my winnings.

Chat with Fred Scaler, a veteran owner sucking on a cigar the size of a canoe. Tells me he once hit a Pick 6 for $335,000, but is gradually getting out of the business. I would too.

Chat with longtime horse player Mark Funk, who says he stayed an extra race to watch jockey Gary Stevens, now 184 years old, go by aboard Mywayorthecauseway. How ironic.

Chat with Laffit Pincay, the winningest jock of all time, now retired, who says he'd like to ride one more race, "just one more, that's all."

Wouldn't everyone.

10th race: Turns out there is no 10th race. It's now just me and one of those waiters who won't let your iced tea go down, no matter what. Every time you sip — boom, he's back, refilling your iced tea. This never happens with beer or Bloody Marys, by the way. Just iced tea. I tip him $20 for the effort.

Because that's how winners roll.

chris.erskine@latimes.com

twitter.com/erskinetimes

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