And this is calendar time.

THE INSIDE RAIL | by Sean Clancy

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Guess I have to write about it. If I write about the dizzying heights of Cheltenham (just think if he finished better than fifth in the Arkle…) then I have to write about the down days of November. I knew it when I saw the missed call. Matt Coleman never calls. He emails, texts, never calls. In this game, calls are bad. Nobody calls to say your horse ate up this morning…slept well…galloped great…had a nice roll in the sand.

Home from Camden, the end of the jump season accentuated by Divine Fortune’s flawless performance in the Colonial Cup. Yes, it would have been more fun to see a Demonstrative/Divine Fortune crescendo but it didn’t happen as the former ran slightly flat, finishing third and the latter, well, he was simply brilliant.

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I'm always asked, "How did you know it was time to retire?" I always say, "You just know." After 13 years of riding races, in the fall of 2000, I knew. I just knew. With Far Hills in the books and the Colonial Cup looming, here's something I wrote about my final days as a jockey. It's part of a book I was writing, but stopped writing. If you like it, there is more. If you don't, forget I posted it.

Jonathan Kiser was gone and I was going. But I was fighting it. After breaking my ankle in July, I started to think maybe I should ride one more year, you know, one solid steady fun year to end my career. Go out on a good note. When I came back in the fall, I rode two winners – a feature on Atomistic and the Maryland Million on Shamrock Isle – from my first four rides. The thoughts of returning for one more season were starting to come alive in my head, just pick and choose, you’re getting good rides, you can control the danger. Change is tough, I started to waver about making a change.

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Jamie Osborne stood in the middle of the dirt track at Santa Anita. Toast Of New York circled in front of him. Bayern circled to his right. An agonizing final furlong turned into an agonizing stewards’ inquiry in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, as the light faded in the California evening, nine Breeders’ Cup races in the books. Well, eight were in the books and one was squarely on the books. Osborne stood and watched – in his own world, but in front of the world. Announcer Trevor Denman’s voice brought Osborne back to this world.

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Home. Finally. Middleburg, Washington Dulles, London Heathrow, Newmarket, Chepstow, Newmarket, London Heathrow, LAX, Pasadena, Santa Anita, Pasadena, Santa Anita, Lax, New Jersey, Manassas, Middleburg. Home. Four planes. Five taxis. Two hotels. A lot of horses. Whew, a lot of horses.

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