THE INSIDE RAIL | by Sean Clancy

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The text came at 9:49 Saturday morning.

“You see that?”

I hadn’t, but I knew what it meant.

Fair Eva had won.

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We’ve had better starts. We’ve had worse starts.

The printer broke in the middle of the night of the first print run. We sleep while it prints, like waiting for Santa Claus, most mornings, we wake up and there’s the paper on the porch. Sometimes, Santa gets re-routed, grounded or off course and the tree is bare when we wake up.

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“You’re running a little late this morning…?”

That was my first greeting Thursday morning in Saratoga. It was 6:33.

“You’re just getting to work now…?”

That was my second greeting Thursday morning in Saratoga. It was 6:46.

Let the games begin.

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The car is half packed. Ran out of daylight yesterday, so now an Espresso machine, two bags of shirts and a Saratoga Special jacket sit in the hallway while my Subaru Outback waits in the driveway.

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The wave is about to crash. Saratoga has started to consume us. I wrote this for the Irish Field last week. 

Barclay Tagg called. The Kentucky Derby trainer doesn’t call often, actually, ever. We made small talk, he eventually got to his point, correcting a story that I (luckily) didn’t write and then we made more small talk.

“You ready for Saratoga?” Tagg asked.

I hesitated, really, didn’t say anything, just let it hang there, a throwaway line that wouldn’t go away.

“Yeah, I guess none of us are ever ready for Saratoga…” said Tagg, answering his own question. “It just happens, no matter if you’re ready or not.”