The Outside Rail

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

Thanks Buck. Kisor leaves steeplechase memories

Reading his obituary, I probably should have talked to Buck Kisor about money instead of horses and writing. But horses and writing it was.

At steeplechase meets, racetracks and associated events of one kind or another, I’d find myself talking shop with Kisor. He was a good listener, had sound opinions. He admired the product and the process of our newspaper Steeplechase Times. His horses, always at the lower end of the game, even made the pages of ST now and then. Lochnagar won at Middleburg in 1999, finished second four times in 2000 and 2001; Heir Apparent did OK; Sumo Power won twice at Tryon; Gather No Moss came through at Foxfield, and did it again at Morven Park, even placed in the timber stakes at Shawan Downs.

‘The life of kings’: Akindale will miss Evening Attire

Chris Andrews never saw Evening Attire race, never knew the fit, determined, hard-trying racehorse. But she knew all about Evening Attire.

“The stall he is . . . was . . . in is the key stall right next to my office and he talked to me every morning and every night,” said Andrews, executive director of Akindale Thoroughbred Rescue where Evening Attire lived out his retirement for the last 10 years. Andrews talked back because, well of course she did. Horses like Evening Attire make you talk to them. On the racetrack, he won nine graded stakes, earned just shy of $3 million and won legions of fans while making 69 starts over nine seasons. He died Sunday of colic, leaving a big hole at Akindale.

Real Horse Power

Clip-clop, clip-clop, clip-clop, clip-clop . . . the hoofbeats closed in as I crossed Union Avenue toward the Oklahoma stable area at Saratoga Race Course. About halfway across, I looked back and a big-but-little bay horse was on my heels and closing in.

He reminded me of a first-grader at recess on the first day of school. Unsure. Shaky. Lost in a “I've-never-been here-before” way. 

“Come on, you can do it,” I found myself instinctively saying.

Newspapers, tragedy, life

Dennis Forney. Trish Vernon. Vicki Davis. Mike Short. Lon Wagner. Kathy Emery. Gina whose last name I can’t remember. Deny Howeth. Chris Wildt. Cat Tanzer. Don Herring. Terry Peddicord. David Healey. Adam Wolle. Bill Hughes. Cheryl Mattix. Jon Springer. Drew Ostroski. Jeff James. Jeff Swinger. Butch Comegys. Anthony Farina. Jim DeCourcy. Wendy Gilbert. Joy whose last name I can’t remember. Craig Horleman. Jeff Gentry. Jane Thomas. Barb Tidman. And . . .

Gene Weymouth, one of a kind

I owe my career to Gene Weymouth. No, really. Well, kind of. And if you spit out your coffee at that statement I’m sorry. Get a napkin.

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.

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.”

Better Talk Now's people

They weren’t missing this one, not this year. And maybe not ever.

Brent and Carol Johnson turned up in Saratoga Monday to present the trophy for the Better Talk Now Stakes two months after the race’s namesake – and the best horse they ever owned – died of colic at age 18. Retired in 2009 after 51 starts and 14 wins including the 2004 Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga Race Course, Better Talk Now was part of the Johnson family. And they miss him.