The Outside Rail

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

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.

Saluter

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.

Opening a Desktop Racing Photo Gallery

A pile of photographs sits on my desk. Been there for a month, maybe more. 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.

Going the social distance at the Queen's Cup

Queen’s Cup Steeplechase co-founders Carrington and Bill Price got a call from a friend who said she was throwing a tailgate party, socially distanced of course, and enjoying the day even if the races were canceled. Some race-day volunteers said they were going to miss their rewarding, if hectic, assignments. Then Prices’ daughter Brent Gallagher, the meet’s part-time director of social media, jumped in.

California Derby 1978 – what a trip

I have emails from Jack and Mary Dixon Hutcheson going back to 2013. The first is about an April Fools’ Day article I wrote about Animal Kingdom becoming a steeplechaser. Jack laughed, which was the goal. There’s one about Moreno upsetting the 2014 Whitney (the subject is “Musta’ been the gumbo”), another about reading The Saratoga Special while stuck at home in Virginia and others offering thanks, tips, encouragement.

Run. Rest. Repeat.

Run. Rest. Run. Rest. Run. Rest. Run. Rest. Run. Rest. Run. Rest. Run. Rest. Run. Rest. Run. Rest. Run. Rest. Run. Rest. Run.

Sleep.

Running for a reason

Nic DeCaire’s one regret might be that he underestimated people.