- August 8, 2019
- Joe Clancy
WOW. Hoist The Flag.
Contributions from TIHR co-founder, editor and writer Joe Clancy.
WOW. Hoist The Flag.
Friday, Luis Carvajal Jr. had three runners at his New Jersey base, Monmouth Park, and needed to be there. He also needed to be at Saratoga to watch stable star Imperial Hint put in his final training session for Saturday’s Alfred G. Vanderbilt Stakes – so he did both.
They don’t make horses like Quick Call anymore, but that’s OK. The one they did make might just live forever. The 35-year-old gelding is the senior resident of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation’s Second Chances farm at the Wallkill Correctional Facility in Wallkill, N.Y.
When eight female hurdle horses line up for Saturday’s Iris Ann Coggins Memorial Stakes at Fair Hill, they’ll help honor someone who saw their value. Coggins, who died in 2015, was a loyal volunteer at Fair Hill and a staunch supporter of opportunities for fillies and mares on the racetrack.
At the press conference after War Of Will’s Preakness Stakes win Saturday, trainer Mark Casse answered all the questions – even one from an infield lax bro who clearly wasn’t with the media – but also made sure to make a point about someone who wasn’t there.
April 14, 1984 makes it more than 35 years ago now. A crowded Pimlico Race Course winner’s circle in the rain. Muddy chestnut horse. Fourteen people. Mom, Dad, Sheila, Sean, Fee the Iranian van driver, owner George Strawbridge, his wife Nina, their kids Sanna and Stewart, super fan Reddy Stewart, super groom Lonnie Fuller, jockey Paul Nicol Jr. and a mostly hidden valet.
Calls to make. Calls to return. Bills to pay. Jobs to do. Stories to write. People to see. Answers to give. Questions to ask. Podcast episodes to schedule. E-mails to answer. Grass to cut. Kids to worry about. A plane to catch in a couple days. A knee that won’t stop swelling.
Life piling up all around you? Take five minutes and go see a horse.
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.
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.
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.