Recently, I wrote about the passing of Rickey Robertson. He was a Conway native who played basketball for the Wampus Cats and Hendrix College.
Rickey’s family and friends have spent the last several weeks gathering and doing various things to commemorate his life.
Rickey was big horse racing fan, and Oaklawn Park offered us a unique way to celebrate his passion for playing the ponies. On Sunday, March 25, the second race that day in Hot Springs was named in memory of Rickey.
I have been to the track dozens of times, but have never experienced a race in quite this way. And it cost a lot less than I would have thought. The Trophy Race Sponsorship package is only $150.00 on weekdays and $190.00 on weekends.
In addition to a race named for your group, the package includes 20 grandstand reserved seats. You also receive one free official commemorative photo, and additional copies can be purchased.
First, you get to select a name for your group. It could be as simple as your business or your family. Or you can customize for a special occasion. We chose “Rickey’s Crew” and they printed that on our tickets.
Then you select a name for your race. It must be family friendly and G-rated. Oaklawn does reserve the right to refuse any name they deem inappropriate.
There is a list of words that are not allowed, including Derby, Stakes, Handicap and Memorial. I can understand those restrictions. But for some reason that I can’t figure out, they do not allow a first and last name together – it has to be one or the other.
So we settled on “The Rickey Commemorative Classic.” The race name is featured on the infield tote boards as well as listed in the official program.
The Oaklawn personnel in charge of this program were very friendly and helpful as our group assembled at the designated gathering point. They took us down to a ground level viewing area to watch our race.
The neatest part of the package is that up to 12 people get to walk onto the track post-race and pose with the winning horse and jockey. Someone from your group gets to hand the horse owner a small commemorative glass trophy. Rickey’s dad, Jarrel Robertson, got the honors.
Rickey was cremated. I can neither confirm nor deny that some of his ashes might have been scattered at Oaklawn. But I can state for a fact that some were buried at his favorite place to go dove hunting, in a field on a farm near Enola.
Rickey was also an avid golfer. So some were sprinkled at Conway Country Club where he played many a round over the years. And rumor has it that a few of his ashes may have made it to Augusta National this week to leave at the Masters.
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