THE INSIDE RAIL | by Sean Clancy

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Confused about the presidential election? Don’t be alarmed, ashamed or abashed – the candidates seem confused, too. I look for logic from Miles, 7, on most things. Yes, even the presidential election. He’s watched several debates and has formed strong opinions.

Here’s some of his thoughts, questions and stances after watching the most recent Republican debate.

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Jonas – 1. Sean – 0.

It began Friday, we knew it was coming. We filled the cars with gas. Filled two cans of diesel fuel for the tractor. Found the snow shovel. Stacked hay on the wagon next to the fence, so we could kick bales into the field, like footballs from a tee. Bought an inflatable mattress for the tack room, in case the help stayed (hilarious). Stocked the kitchen with bread, milk, eggs, cereal, frozen pizzas, beer. Annie planned a meal for every night, frozen pizzas were the last resort.

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I’ve watched a few races with Charlie LoPresti over the years.

Here Comes Ben winning the Forego, after we went searching the Saratoga backside looking for the new guy “Lowpresstee” and found him sitting on a tack trunk talking to his mother on his cell phone. Successful Dan finishing second in the Whitney, I had grabbed LoPresti by the arm to tell him he had flipped in the paddock chute, I’ve never seen despair like that. Turallure winning the Bernard Baruch, we walked out of the grandstand and along Nelson Avenue, LoPresti saying, “Man, I really like this place.” And then all the wins by Wise Dan, the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita when I went to shake his hand and he bear-hugged me like a son coming home from the war.

“If it wasn’t for Red Raven, you might not have ever been a rider.”

That’s what my 81-year-old father said to me over Christmas vacation. I thought about it for a minute. And then I thought long and hard about it later. He’s right. If it wasn’t for Red Raven, I would not have made a rider.

Thirteen years old – an observer, a non-participant in sports, classes, conversations, middle school dances. Thirteen years old – a kid who said he wanted to be a jockey but was afraid to ride. Thirteen years old – hiding and hoping I didn’t get found.

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Winter has come. Late. Fast. First set at a little after 7, the light starts to come through the window of the guest room. A glean of frost covers everything, fence rails, grass, roofs, tree limbs in the distance. Cars roll down the country road, commuters going to the office, they don’t notice the frost, don’t care about the ground, temperature means nothing to men in ties.