THE OUTSIDE RAIL | by Joe Clancy

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.

The security guard tells the guy driving the dark blue Chevy Tahoe with the North Carolina plates and the trailer hitch to move, then move again. Finally, with the truck parked by a dumpster in a spot formerly occupied by a golf cart, Rae Fernandez hops out with a shavings fork a newly purchased blue tarp.

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Long before she talked to trainers and jockeys after big wins, way before she interviewed football and basketball coaches on the sidelines, far back to when she was just a high-schooler in North Jersey, Jeannine Edwards went to Belmont Park to look for a job.

With her mother.

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It took longer than I thought it would.

The final furlong of Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, the one that gave American Pharoah and all of Thoroughbred racing the Triple Crown, lasted about 12 seconds but it seemed like an hour. He was going to win, he was going to make history, he was going to silence 37 years of doubt and slay 37 years of demons. People were going to go crazy. Hell, they were already going crazy up and down the Belmont stand, the noise bellowing in pitch and rolling high and low like some sort of tidal force.

Then time stood still.