The Outside Rail

Contributions from TIHR co-founder, editor and writer Joe Clancy.

Driving Jonathan Sheppard

It was 2008. Jonathan Sheppard was in yet another chapter of his storied career and The Blood-Horse magazine wanted a feature story. Steeplechase Times still existed, and I still wrote freelance articles for other racing publications.

Cool Songs 2020

The website title says horse racing so you should expect some horse racing in this spot. This is not it. OK, here’s a little . . . the Eclipse Awards voting choices for 2020 were difficult, maddening and kind of weak at the same time. Here’s to better stuff in 2021. But, let’s turn to something else. Music.

Preakness Thursday is still Preakness Thursday

Thursday morning of Preakness Week typically brings many things to Pimlico Race Course: Sunrise tours of the stable area, Clydesdales, the Archbishop of Baltimore, banter among rivals at the Alibi Breakfast, selfies with the Woodlawn Vase and finishing touches for the Thoroughbreds entered in Saturday’s Grade 1 stakes.

A Winner

Farm general manager Bruce Hill was at home, alone because his wife doesn’t want to be a jinx, when he sat down to watch Live Oak Stud homebred Win Win Win compete in the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga Race Course Saturday. 

Protest Power

Mack Robinson, Jackie’s brother, didn’t use his silver medal from the 1936 Summer Olympics to meet people. He wore his Olympic team jacket to the only job he could get, as a street sweeper. White residents of Pasadena, Cal., called the cops on Robinson and made him take off the jacket.

Tom’s Moment

When Tom’s d’Etat crossed the finish line in the Stephen Foster last week, jockey Miguel Mena stood up in the irons and brought his finger to his lips in the universal signal to “Shhhh.” There were no fans in attendance at Churchill Downs, but Mena was speaking for his horse who silenced everybody with the Grade 2 stakes win.


Hang around horse racing long enough and you will hear old-timers say, after some inspirational on-track performance or another, “They don’t make horses like that anymore.” The statement is a cliché, hyperbole, exaggeration and wrong – nobody really “makes” horses. They’re born. Nature is in charge, not man.

Paddock Schooling

In 1984, my dad sent me (and a van driver) to run a weird, gawky horse named Family at Laurel Park while my dad went somewhere else to run a different (probably less weird and gawky) horse. Dad said he’d get somebody to saddle Family, since back then you needed an assistant trainer’s or trainer’s license to tack up a runner in the paddock. No problem. The van driver drove, I did the rest – including my first application of rundown bandages for a race. In the paddock with Family, I looked for our would-be saddler and saw no one I knew. There was a valet, me, the van driver, the horse and an annoyed paddock judge.

A Year in a Day

At some point, Terry Finley said it out loud.

“If I had the ability to just push the calendar forward so we could wake up on January 1, 2021, I might do it.”

Photo Album

A pile of photographs sits on my desk. The pile was in a box, but I needed the box so I removed the photos. I’ve looked through some, once or twice, but not all. Then I moved on to something else. Then I came back to them. Then I left again. Then I came back. They’re random, from all eras and sources. I’m not sure how they wound up together in a box, but they amaze me.

This is Edition 2. Read the first here.