And this is Pennsylvania Derby Week.

THE INSIDE RAIL | by Sean Clancy

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“Should we walk back?”

And so this column begins the way yesterday’s ended. Charlie LoPresti asking if I wanted to walk back to the barn to see Wise Dan.

The two-time Horse of the Year returned from colic surgery and nearly four months on the bench to do what he does best – win. Reeve McGaughey, Kelly Wheeler, Damien Rock and LoPresti’s team had walked Wise Dan back to the test barn while LoPresti waited to saddle Shift Colors two races later. The filly finished seventh, LoPresti talked to jockey Jose Lezcano, declined a champagne toast and then asked the question.

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Trainers flee like thieves in the night, no goodbyes, barns simply empty from one morning to the next.

I throw three copies of The Special on a wooden shelf, then look up and realize it’s the only thing around, “Whoa, I guess they shipped out.”

Broken straw bales scattered like tumbleweeds. The hanging flowers, drying and wilting, left behind like a hitchhiker at a crossroads. Baling twine hangs loose, blowing in the wind. A rub rag hangs from the wooden rail around the wash rack, too dirty to ship, it’ll be there next year.

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What do you do after this? It’s a logical question after the madness of seven weeks at Saratoga. It’s also part of the reason why you like us, you won’t see us (much) until next year. The easy answer is we’ll walk away – from the track, from the circus, from daily publishing, daily racing. We’ll write, but at nothing near the intensity. We’ll reintroduce ourselves to our wives, our children (or chickens in Tom’s case) and go back to the regularly scheduled program.

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Two years ago, I needed a column. Wandering and wondering, I walked down Gridley Street and found an 18-year-old wide-eyed kid pulling his tack off a horse.  

In 2012, Dylan Davis wanted to be a jockey. In 2014, he is a jockey.

Wednesday, Davis won his third race of the meet, steering first-time starter Ms Eileen to win the fifth. It was career win number 174 for Davis. Saratoga isn’t easy for any jockey and it hasn’t been easy for Davis. If he’s questioned it or he’s frustrated by it, you’d never know. Every day, he and his agent Mike Kelly, upbeat, walk the beat. For weeks, Davis has laughed when he’s seen The Special’s team, “I want to make The Special. Before the meet’s over, I want to make The Special.”

This is how far you’ve come, kid.

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Time for a walk.

With a stiff neck, no afternoon races and an off-in-the-distance deadline, I go for a walk Tuesday morning. For six weeks, my exercise has consisted of reaching down and turning the key to the golf cart, moving papers from cart to rack and walking across the street to pick up dinner at Spring Street.

I needed the walk.


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