Opinions

Periodic columns from our staff and the occasional guest.

Once a Day, Once a Week...

I admire and respect a daily blog. I just can’t seem to fulfill one and I also wonder how I could possibly have anything interesting to say every day. As one of my great editors once said, “Quit apologizing for not writing and write.”

What's up Doc?

The end is near. Two weekends, four meets left in the 2018 season.

Far Hills Epilogue

Well, they dropped the flag at Far Hills. Epic day at the sport’s biggest meet. American-breds went 0-for 33. Irish-breds won four, British-breds won two and a French-bred won the other. Yielding ground will do that.

The Day of Days – Far Hills

“Are you less nervous today than you were on Oct. 29, 1983?”

“Probably,” Dad answered.

“Definitely,” I answered.

Real Fear

Just like old times, I woke up worrying, fretting, irritable. My wife, Annie, recognized it, she had seen it in 1994 after we had our first date. Misdirected stress, snapping at anybody in the way, kicking the cat, the dog, hell, anything I could find. Self indulgent, ridiculously self-absorbed, it was how I handled the pressure of riding races, well, handled, would be a stretch. I rode races for 13 years and have spent the next 18, apologizing for how I acted on race days.

 

Cup of Coffee: Wire Idea

Bas Nicholl called me last week. The longtime assistant trainer for D. Wayne Lukas has called me twice before. Once, Nicholl called to thank me for leading the Travers feature with Will Take Charge and him and once when we misquoted Nicholl in Here & There. One out of two ain’t bad.

Cup of Coffee: In Command

George Handy decided to go for bigger things, closing his stable at Lincoln Downs in Rhode Island to try his hand at Liberty Bell Racetrack in Philadelphia. It was 1970. Handy’s assistant, Ned Allard, figured he better leave too. Without a job and with just a $1,500 claimer, Handy allowed him to train on the side, Allard began to make plans to hit the road. But, Fleetness Rules was ready to run, the owner wanted to run, Allard got talked into staying to run him, just once. 

Cup of Coffee: Dave

Today is the Fourstardave Stakes, run in the memory of the New York-bred gelding who won a race at Saratoga for eight consecutive seasons from 1987 to 1994. Friday evening, Richard Migliore talked about his memories of Fourstardave’s magical run. We turned up the TV and listened to the jockey who can tell stories better than Tolkien. Migliore got me thinking about my memories of Fourstardave, when I galloped horses for Leo O’Brien and his family. 

Cat 1. Bird 0.

Wayne Catalano stood still for a moment. The 62-year-old trainer leaned against the outside rail, waiting for his big horse, Farrell, to complete a circuit of the main track the day before she won the Shuvee at Saratoga. This is the only way Catalano pauses, when his horse is on the other side of the infield lake and there’s nothing else to do but wait for her.

Voice Mail

A few readers have told us that they save up The Specials all summer, then pull them out and read them one by one in the dead of a Saratoga winter.