Coming home from Deadline 26 Wednesday night, I stepped onto my porch and noticed that something looked different. I thought, 'Did they trim the bushes?' as I stepped over a forlorn golf cart charger, it laid across the porch like an IV drip, pulled from a dead man's arm.
My golf cart was missing.
I found the key, like holding a box of cereal without a bowl. I asked my wife, Annie, if she had seen the golf cart. She had not. My natural instinct, when faced with strife or discord is to call it a night and hope it's better in the morning. My wife, the youngest of seven Greeks from Alabama, believes that it will only get better with a head-on collision.
"You need to call the police."
I grunted and walked outside. Nearing midnight, I searched in the bushes behind the house, up and down the street looking for my trusted comrade, we've been together for 36 days. She was nowhere to be seen.
My mind raced.
Do I have insurance for this? Did I leave it somewhere and can't remember where? What am I going to do with 600 papers being delivered at 4:45 in the morning? I wondered who would have stolen, borrowed or pulled a prank?
Jack Fisher. My loyal friend, who stays at the house, decided to play a joke and hid it, kind of like stealing the Travers Canoe.
Bob Baffert? They needed a golf cart for security to follow American Pharoah to the track in the morning. I would have gladly donated it to that cause.
The Pink Sheet? They had declared war on our distribution system, tired of us taking market share.
"What are you doing?" Annie yelled out the door.
"Blowing off steam."
"You need to call the police."
I called the police at 11:40.
"I'd like to report a stolen golf cart..."
"Do you want us to dispatch a cruiser?"
I reluctantly said yes and a cop car zoomed up Caroline Street minutes later. It slowed to a halt and I walked to the car door.
"He'll bark at you," the cop said.
Then he barked and I lurched, backward, into the metal gate. I couldn't see in the car, but I could hear the bark. A dog started to bark, in response, farther down Caroline, then another one in a yard on Salem Drive. A chorus, a cacophony.
We discussed the situation.
"When did you see it last?"
"After the last race, about 6, maybe."
"What's it look like?"
"Got a serial number?"
"Know what it's worth?"
"They usually turn up inside the gates, somebody takes them for a joy ride."
"Yeah, that's what I'm thinking."
"Do you want to file a report?"
"I don't know, I just thought if you see a golf cart driving down the street, you'll know it's mine."
"Yeah. You should call NYRA."
"NYRA?" I'm thinking, Chris Kay is not dealing with my golf cart.
The cop (I wish I had his name) couldn't have been more cordial and professional. He took down my name, my number and said he would talk to NYRA security.
My phone rang at 1:07, I missed the call. It rang again at 1:21, I missed the call. An hour later, my front door rattled, I leapt out of bed, ran around in circles, wondering and wishing for clarity. I pulled on a shirt and a pair of jeans and opened the door.
"You want your golf cart? We found it."
No socks, no phone, no house keys, I climbed in the car, as Rin Tin Tin tried to break down the barrier between the seats, we zoomed down Caroline, East and through the security gate.
There she was, abandoned, alone, in the grass parking lot between the Oklahoma track and Fasig-Tipton. Copies of The Special, still on the dashboard. Three men, flash lights, couple of cars, it looked like Elliott Ness breaking the case.
"This your cart?"
"You're the paper guy. I see you every morning, full of papers early and empty late."
"Yeah, that's me."
I shook hands with my trusted friend from Saratoga Police and the three security guards. They nodded, shook off the gratitude and turned to get in their cars, before they did, one asked me a question.
"Like anything tomorrow?"
- Champion Divine Fortune fell at the last in Thursday's New York Turf Writers Cup and was euthanized after breaking his shoulder. Thursday evening, I received an email from a reader, Doug McGuirk.
He asked, "Can you help me and so many other fans reconcile our love of Saratoga, horses, racing and everything surrounding it with the loss of such a wonderful champion?"
I wish I could, Doug, I wish I could, but it's a hard day for reconciliation. Joe wrote a tribute to Divine Fortune, one of the greatest to ever grace our game.
He wrote it for all of us – it helped me to read it, hopefully it will help you as well. See page 32.