Double time at the Special

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“Joe, is this the biggest Saratoga Special in history?”

“Nah, I think it ties it.”

“Oh, let’s go up four more pages, break the record. We can do a four-page Ginger Punch photo spread. Blow it out of the water.”

Yes, it’s punchy in the Saratoga Special office as this 56-page paperweight (please recycle) churns its way to the newsstands. The first year we eked out eight-pagers, now we’re grinding out 56-page tomes. If you’re reading, at least, we know the Travers issue really made it. Right now, it feels like Everest and the sherpas just turned around.

The pizza man dropped off four pies to get us through the night. Next year, we’re being sponsored by Giacone’s. Four large a day and we’ll product-place in every issue:

Ginger Punch spread over the field like tomato sauce on a Giacone’s pie. Mambo In Seattle delivers quicker than Giacone’s.

Today’s is covered. We’ll tip the driver.

A 56-page newspaper prints in two sections, because it’s too thick to go through the printer in one slice. Something we learned the hard way the second year in business at Saratoga. That’s when we started selling enough ads to warrant two sections. Mind you, I stick with the Asmussen philosophy of you can never have too many horses, er, ads, so I say bring em on, we’ll make it work. If every day was Travers Day, we’d be proficient at doubling our deadline, we’d be Rupert Murdoch and we’d be nuts. Edit, design, write and sell two papers a day. First one due at 3 in the afternoon. Second one due at 11 at night. Where’s Asmussen when you need him?

“Sure, sure, Printer, we’ll get the first section done by early afternoon No problem.”

It just left the office at 6:18. Uh oh. One section still to go and we’re technically three hours behind schedule. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

Obviously we love it. We love the sport and we love bringing the sport to the people. Just think of us as Quincy Jones – bringing the music to the people.

Right now, we need reinforcements. We need the Tom Durkin call, the Migliore left-handed whip, the Ginger Punch.

Joe works on page 42 and tries to talk to his wife.

“I’m just trying to finish . . . ”

Joe, there will be another paper. There won’t be another wife.

“I’m taking my five-minute break.”

Joe makes his way to the back stoop. We’ve had a lot of back-stoop phone conversations over the years, head in hand trying to put out the fires of real life. Well, the two married guys of our office staff of seven have weathered them, nobody else, it seems. At least we have less every year – that’s got to mean something. I check the back window, Joe’s smiling and walking in circles. Sweet, all is well at home.

We watched Ginger Punch on tape delay on the OTB show. Nothing like watching from afar as a champion guts one out. Next year, we’re going for a trailer next to Siro’s, so we can run across the street to see it in the flesh. John Panagot and Brian Nadeau handled today’s writing. A 2,000-word Travers story bogged me down, it’s the first day of racing I’ve missed all meet. We sat back and cheered for the champion, agonized over the photo finish, ignoring the fact that it had already happened – we didn’t know she had won it. We’ve learned not to take calls from the track between the time the OTB show blacks out and when it returns. No sense spoiling the outcome of races that we’ll tell our grandkids about as we stroll down Broadway and Ryan, Jack, and Nolan run the show. Proud Spell. Grand Couturier. Ginger Punch. Macho Again. Kodiak Kowboy. Indian Blessing. Yeah, we like the horses.

It’s 8:03 and we’re working on the quotes pages for today’s issues. Exclusive quotes about every starter in every stakes. Yeah, that’s what we love. Tracking down Myra Mora, Raja Malek, and Michael Matz (all we needed was Michael Maker). We like when trainers march us down to a horse’s stall and say, “Touch him. Touch him, man. Touch him. He’s like a rock, you couldn’t drive a nail through him.” Then the horse turns his hind end and we’re reminded that we’re simply caretaker and stenographer. We’ll bet on the Rock in Saturday’s Travers.

If we make it that far.

We’ve been here 12 straight hours. Is that the Closing Ceremonies of the Olympics? Is it Thanksgiving yet?

Joe stomps out again.

“I feel like a prisoner making license plates.”

He’s so dramatic.