"What did you learn?"
That's what I was asked as I crossed Fifth Avenue Thursday morning. The lessons began at 5:30 and kept going until 11:00. Some were about horses and some were about life. As always, there was a lot to learn.
I learned John Shirreffs, Chad Brown and Bill Mott are the last three trainers on the Oklahoma track most mornings.
I learned Steve Klesaris knows how to train a cat. Yes, a cat. I learned he wouldn't leave a stray cat back at Belmont Park.
I learned they decorate goats, crown and all, at the Annex.
I learned goats at the Annex like to eat the TDN.
I learned Lane Luzzi was raised right.
I learned it takes one peppermint and a baseball hat to get one of Elizabeth Voss' horses to the turnout paddock in the morning
I learned the hotwalker at Ken McPeek's loves the paper.
I learned a Spanish edition of The Special would be welcomed.
I learned when Japan makes the cover of The Special, The Special makes the wall of the tack room.
I learned Bruce Brown's barn can go through a table full of packaged sweets in a day.
I learned Catherine Kenneally is starting a company to rent hats and fascinators for the races.
I learned Bill Mott's pony, the great Solenzano, was put down at age 25.
I learned if a horse steps on a nail, do not pull it out, call the vet, X-ray it, and then have the vet pull it out.
I learned V. E. Day gets low and stretches when he blows out two days before the Whitney
I learned the Fasig-Tipton's Stable Tour is captivating to readers and daunting to trainers.
I learned the tomatoes are almost ripe.
I learned a long-ago steeplechase groupie thought I could really ride, then I learned that my heart can still skip a beat.
I learned if Bill Mott has a horse who won't gallop with a rider, he takes her back to the barn, untacks her and pony hers around the Oklahoma.
I learned they're building new stalls in the walking shed at the Annex.
I learned Emily Meier prunes her flowers often and with precision.
I learned there are trainers who call their horses by their stall numbers. I learned there are trainers who disappoint me.
I learned I can be called, "darling, papa, my man, my brother, jump rider, the press and homey," all in the same morning.
I learned grown men will cry when they talk about Chris Antley.
I learned the bench on the top of the hill, across from Peter Pugh's barn, makes a good place to relax.
I learned there is a plaque honoring Nichola Marie Walls, "A loving daughter, sister, and friend. You touched everyone's life in so many ways. Your grace, beauty and love for life will always be in our hearts, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palms of his hands." I learned perspective is good.
I learned I'm entering the stage of life where my friends are starting to have health problems instead of relationship problems.
I learned we need to pick up the trash.
I learned Cindy Weaver gets mad if someone takes her Special.
I learned Mark Hennig is now drinking seltzer water, instead of Diet Mountain Dew, what a relief.
I learned I still look for The Chief.
I learned the security guard at the Fifth Avenue gate is the friendliest face I see all day.
I learned there are a lot of ringers involved in the Jockey vs. Horsemen basketball game.
I learned that Dinny Phipps was friends with Red Smith, used to watch Smith anguish over his columns. I learned I'm not alone.
I learned they shouldn't build stalls on the backs of the old barns, horses need a quiet side of a stall to relax.
I learned Leah Gyarmati shipped The Chief's mounting block to Saratoga.
I learned I get a lot more accomplished when I don't spend all morning standing in front of the Morning Line Kitchen.
I learned that some exercise riders swear too often.
I learned there's still a lot to learn.