In the early 1950s, Sid Alpert, then Rosecroft Raceway's track photographer, was fired because he missed a picture of champion pacer Good Time. His friends tease him that he didn't have any film in his camera.
In the intervening years, however, the camera and harness racing have been good to Alpert. He will return to Rosecroft Saturday to race the first two standardbreds he has owned in the $200,000 William E. Miller Memorial. The race is named after one of harness racing's top drivers and founder of Rosecroft.
Alpert worked with the Washington press before entering the racing game.
"When I was a little boy, I went to work for the Times-Herald," Alpert said. "I was a feature writer for the Herald. My replacement when I went to Uncle Sam was Jacqueline Bouvier. I'm the guy who gave her the assignment to go up on the Hill to interview (John) Kennedy and rekindle the old flames. I'm the guy who had to teach her how to use a camera."
After serving in the Army, Alpert went to work at Laurel Raceway (now Freestate), where "I developed the first night photo patrol for a harness track in the world."
Alpert branched into sound and video systems for tracks and worked at Laurel, Ocean Downs and the old Baltimore Raceway. Alpert's Electronic Race Patrol brought fans the instant replays of the nightly races for many years at Laurel and for the last 17 years at Rosecroft.
This season, however, Rosecroft did not renew Alpert's contact, opting to go with International Sound, a Maryland-based business rival of Alpert's. Alpert termed the change a Rosecroft "managerial decision" and said revenge won't be a motive for winning the Miller on Saturday.
Although he had been in racing for so many years, Alpert never owned a horse until a few years ago. After prompting from his wife Lenore, he purchased a yearling colt, Steady Governor, at Lexington, Ky.
A friend from Brandywine Raceway in Delaware got Alpert to buy his second colt, Stargell Lobell, even though Alpert had no intention of buying another horse.
Alpert, who describes himself as an art lover, thought his friend was handling the bidding poorly at the Fall Sales Classic in Atlantic City. So Alpert took over.
"Next thing I knew, I brought another horse, Stargell," he said. The purchase price was $9,700.
Stargell Lobell has won more than $75,000 to date and his best time, 1:55 4/5, makes him one of the early favorites in the Miller. Steady Governor also is entered.
Seventeen 3-year-old pacing colts have entered the Miller Memorial. The large field forced Rosecroft to split the Miller into two divisions valued at $115,000 each. The Miller will be the eighth and 11th races on the 12-race card.