Periodic columns from our staff and the occasional guest.

Silence is Good

It’s been a week. No phone calls. Which is good news. As an owner, you know phone calls only bring bad news. Like waiting for the draft.

Counting the Days

There it is in cold, hard print next to Valdez’s name. 1204. Yeah, 1,204 days since his last run. We knew it had been a while, since that fateful day at Chepstow, two, three, four years ago…yeah, the day he fell, slid, strained, the day the house of cards came down.

The Fisher Eclipse

A barn divided…

Nah, not really, but around the Jack Fisher barn in Butler, Md., hearts were with Mr. Hot Stuff, heads, if pushed, were with Scorpiancer. The latter, with a 2-for-2 season that included a dominant win in the Grade 1 Iroquois, won the Eclipse Award as champion steeplechase horse for 2017. The former, riding a one-hit wonder in the Grand National, wound up third in the voting. The Jonathan Sheppard-trained All The Way Jose finished second, an independent between Fisher’s bookends.

Crack of Dawn

There is nothing that will wake you up quicker than a European horse sale. Well, there is nothing that will wake me up quicker than a European horse sale. The texts started beeping at 5:05 Tuesday morning.

Greatness from out of the Past

Creased, scratched, faded, turned up on the corners and with a dime-sized hole in the center of the cover photo, the magazine saw plenty in its 44 years. But nobody had seen it for five years, maybe more, until Jack Clancy opened a plastic container in an unused room in my Fair Hill office last month.

One interview with Tubby Raymond

Back in the 1980s at the University of Delaware’s student-run newspaper The Review, I didn’t cover the football team. I went to field hockey games, lacrosse games, the occasional baseball game, a basketball game or two (the team was usually woeful), some wrestling matches, a few swim meets.

Jump into the Eclipse vote

Abstain, abstain, abstain.

If you’re paying attention to Eclipse Award votes this time of year, you’ll read that a lot. Voters and other interested racing fans will post their ballots for Thoroughbred racing’s annual championships and many will decline to vote in the champion steeplechaser category (instead typing Abstain in the first, second and third choice boxes). Not everyone, but many. The abstentions topped 40 individual voters in each of the past three years and will likely do so again this time around.

Sharing a Derby Sandwich

It was 2001, my first spring off the steeplechase circuit and I had gotten to the Derby. Getting to the Derby and enjoying the Derby are two different things.

My friend, Tony Reinstedler, said he had a place for me to stay. He did – in a tent in his backyard off Baxter Street. No problem, we weren’t sleeping much.

Calendar time, and calendar people

“Hi, I’m calling to order my calendars. I order them every year from you. You should know who I am and have all of my information.”

“I only need one this year. The person I bought the second one for passed away.”

“My mama drank tequila when she was pregnant with me, so I don’t hear so well. Can you speak up?”

“My friends owned some horses in California. I was their official jockey hugger. Now that was a good job.”