Kenny Fowler was a friend to everyone in horse racing

Here it is, time for the opening day of the Alameda County Fair horse racing meet in Pleasanton.

It is usually one of the most exciting days of the year for me as I love the sport of horse racing, and love the people involved in the industry. These are the people that I see once a year when the races roll into town.

It’s been a wonderful ride working in the industry, hosting handicapping seminars, and helping educated people that want to learn and wager on horse racing.

Spending summers with some of the most genuine people I have ever known meant some wonderful times.

When each summer would end it would be sad, but you had the knowledge that you would get to see your buddies the next summer.

Yep, it’s been a great time of year, kicking off the summer with a time, that while was technically work, was a lot of fun as well.

But when Pleasanton kicks off Friday something, or rather someone, is going to be missing.

This is a person the last 10-12 years I have spent a lot of time talking with, often hanging out throughout the race day, passing time between races.

Now, there will be no cell phone conversations. No texting throughout the year. No messages on Facebook.

When Kenny Fowler passed in early February all of us associated with horse racing, not just in Pleasanton, but Sacramento, Santa Rosa, and Ferndale lost something big inside.

I wanted to write something soon after his death, but waiting until right before the Fair racing season began seemed so much more appropriate.

Kenny wasn’t just a friend; he was like family. I got to know Kenny initially through the myriad of jobs he held during the summer racing season. Throughout the years, our friendship grew.

Hosting handicapping seminars at both the Pleasanton and Santa Rosa Fairs, Kenny was one of the first people I spoke with each day, getting the morning scratches to convey to the seminar guests. If a late scratch came in after the seminar started, Kenny never hesitated to run out the information to me up on the seminar stage (although I think he enjoyed walking up on the stage in front of the crowd!).

In Santa Rosa I got to spend more time with Kenny and his family around the campgrounds at the Sonoma County Fair.

Kenny spent a lot of time living in Pleasanton during the off time of year for the Fair and our paths crossed more regularly. A huge sports fan, Kenny would come watch some Foothill High football games, hanging out of the press box while I was announcing the games.

He was also a fanatical Green Bay Packers fan and with me being an equally enthusiastic San Francisco 49ers fan, banter started each September and intensified until the 49ers eliminated the Packers in the playoffs – got ya again Kenny!

And I know when this football season rolls around, I am going to have some emotional times, waiting for the text or message to come from Kenny, yet it won’t happen – ever again.

The thing with Kenny was that it was impossible not to have a smile on your face or a laugh in your belly after talking with him. Whether it was a joke or a story – and there were an equal number of good ones and bad ones – or just seeing him doing his job and always seeming happy when he was working.

We spent a ton of time sitting in the winners’ circle at the track passing times between races, especially in Santa Rosa, along with bugler Pete Estabrook, and those were some memorable conversations, with many times a story ending with my head laying on my arms on the table to try to control my laughter.

I will miss you not just this year but moving forward as well. Your humor, your laugh, and your dedication to making our sport important to all our visitors and customers.

Thank you for being a friend Kenny, not just to me but to so many but inside the racing family, but to those racing fans that looked forward to seeing you each year at the track.

RIP buddy.