Local horse racing fans eagerly await opening day of PID

Saturday’s Kentucky Derby fired up local horse racing fans who can’t wait for the start of the season on May 16 at Almost Isle Downs.

There will be no race on Saturday or Sunday this season, and the start time will be at 1:30 p.m., which disappoints those who work the day. Thoroughbred racing is still a great sport and many top horses are expected to head to Erie for some high stakes racing.

I hope Churchill Downs, which owns Almost Isle Downs & Casino, will offer a little more hospitality to local fans this year.

A dispute between Churchill and the Horseman’s Benevolent Protective Association recently brought an end to pari-mutuel betting at Almost Isle Downs. Erie fans are also hoping the track hires enough live tellers so they don’t have to line up endlessly at computerized betting stations.

● Congratulations to Harborcreek Township native Bob Learn Jr. on his recent induction into the United States Bowling Congress Hall of Fame. Learn, now 60, put together one of the biggest seasons in PBA history in 1996 with seven television appearances and more than $200,000 in earnings.

Bob Learn Jr. wins the Flagship City Open at Tullio Arena on April 6, 1996.

The highlight of that momentous year came at the Erie’s Flagship Open when, in the championship match against Johnny Petraglia, and in front of 4,000 fans at the then Tullio Arena, Learn shot a perfect 300. He beat Petraglia 300-279 to win the tournament in what must be considered one of Erie’s most exciting sporting events.

For subscribers:Memories of Bob Learn’s Flagship City Open are still vivid 25 years after Erie’s big PBA moment

● David Maraniss’ new book, “Path Lit by Lightning: The Life of Jim Thorpe,” is receiving excellent reviews. I’ll be interested to see if Maraniss has any information about Thorpe’s many months in the Northeast in 1952, the year before he died.

Thorpe, one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century, was unlucky when he met Forrie Hopkins, who at the time owned the Concord Hotel in North East. Thorpe resided at the hotel, through the generosity of Hopkins, and became a familiar figure in the Northeast. When I lived there in the 1980s, I heard many colorful stories about Thorpe from the locals he had befriended.

Zayna Darres is shown as Red Riding Hood in a past production of

● Several readers wrote in to sing the praises of McDowell High School senior Zayna Darres, who recently starred in the school musical, “Sister Act.”

Brady Louis, who said he followed Zayna from her days at the Erie Playhouse Youtheatre to major productions there, bragged about her singing and acting skills. She heads to Penn State’s main campus, where she has been accepted into the theater program.

Zayna’s loving parents, including her father, Kal Darres, who is the manager of the Kahkwa Club, must be so proud of her accomplishments.

On the scene:Upcoming Breaking Benjamin concert in Erie; art exhibitions continue

Former Pittsburgh Steelers star and Vietnam veteran Rocky Bleier will be in Erie on May 27.

● WICU’s Mike Ruzzi had an interesting interview with former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rocky Bleier during the station’s Vietnam Remembrance series. This leads to the May 27 opening in Erie of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Traveling Wall Replica. Bleier will provide a special message at the opening that day.

Bleier, 76, overcame serious leg injuries sustained in the jungles of Vietnam to make an incredible comeback for the Steelers. He played in several Super Bowl victories during his more than a decade with the team.

● Speaking of football, I wonder if the Cleveland Browns are more than a little nervous after the Major League Baseball pitcher recently suspended Trevor Bauer for two full seasons. The Browns are awaiting the NFL’s decision on the suspension of quarterback Deshaun Watson, who faces more than 20 civil lawsuits from women who accuse him of sexual misconduct and assault.

Bauer and Watson were cleared of criminal charges.

● Dr. John Tedesco reports that his brother, Erie native Dr. Joseph Tedesco, and Dr. Grant Stephenson are biking across the country to raise money for brain cancer research. Joe Tedesco has a close friend who has been battling glioblastoma for several years and is thinking of him on his journey.

Joe Tedesco and Stephenson began their ride last week in Santa Monica, Calif., and they hope to complete their trip in Boston in June.

● Cleveland Guardians broadcasters Matt Underwood and Rick Manning made some interesting comments during a recent game that got bogged down late in the inning. Both pointed out that the game sped up when the starting pitchers were still on the mound, but once the bullpen took over, an exciting game turned into a snoozefest. I agree that Major League Baseball is plagued with too many games over 3 hours these days.

● Even for a computer incompetent like me, it was still a stupid mistake. As I was wondering if a local store sold Adirondack patio chairs, I googled the topic. The next day I received 36 messages from various dealers across the country touting their chairs. And they always happen. Don’t make the same stupid mistake.

Kevin Cuneo, columnist.

Kevin Cuneo can be contacted at [email protected]

Back To Top