THE OUTSIDE RAIL | by Joe Clancy

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Which trainer saddled a horse to win two races at the meet first? Pletcher, Mott, Brown, Clement, McLaughlin? No, no, no, no and no. The answer is Steve Klesaris, who has 18 stalls filled with mainly claimers under the trees just beyond the main track’s 5-furlong pole. 

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It rains differently in Saratoga. Louder, longer, more vertical, as if it comes from a higher sky. Tuesday, it fell long and steady, a wet soundtrack to a morning that came too soon after a long, late newspaper deadline. 

So I listened. And thought.

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Marc McLean went to the 2001 Breeders’ Cup at Belmont Park, even told some friends from Connecticut to join him. His family’s big horse – well, a big horse his family bred – named Xtra Heat was running in the Sprint. 

You can’t call it a movement yet, or even a groundswell really. No, Racing Gratitude is more like the current flickering in an old neon sign. You know the kind. Zzzpppptttt…Eat at Joe’s…Pttzzzffftt…Rheingold Extra Dry Beer – To Go…Tkkkzzzrrrrmmmtt…Clancy’s Tavern.

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They say the little things matter, right? I hope so, because the big things can be pretty heavy to carry around. Work, school, stress, money, life, time, age . . . you know the stuff. I’ve been in Saratoga about 10 days, and a handful of little things are way up on my list of highlights (including a hilarious trip to see Minions Tuesday night). A whole lot of big things are at the other end of the list.