The Inside Rail

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

In Honor

The tack trunk sits in the corner, next to a Saratoga 2-year-old winner, under the overhang of the T-shaped barn inside Clare Court. A bag of timothy hay cubes folds and falls. Ankle paint, a soft-bristled, long-stemmed brush dropped in the plastic holder taped around the jar, you know, the quintessential groom-rigged method of efficiency. A stiff bristle brush, it looks like it was thrown from a passing car. Green gel, Epsom salt, a feed tub and a bag of laundry.

The Dream

Victor Berrios went to school one day. Into the army the next.

It wasn’t his choice.

The Track

Early Thursday morning, Joe Campbell waited for a coffee and a chocolate Coolatta at the counter of Dunkin Donuts. A couple of racetrackers stood in line, two golfers planned a tea time from a table and I asked the most natural question I could ask.

No Regret

Jim Croce said it best.

Back Story

There is nothing like a Saratoga morning. I’d take the morning over the afternoon, the backside over the frontside. Just for the stories, the conversations, the light nature to a day that hasn’t gotten away from you – yet.

41 Years

The letter came in the mail about a week ago. Postmarked July 30, San Francisco, California. The return address is from San Mateo, actually. Window envelope, a label with my name, our address over the window. A letter. An actual letter. There is nothing like a letter in the mail.

Good Bye

It was the Travers. I was in trouble.

My on-again-off-again girlfriend and future wife called and said she wanted to come to Saratoga that weekend. Travers Weekend. It must be 20 years ago, maybe more.

Family

Dear Miles,

Thanks for coming to Saratoga. I’m sorry I wasn’t fully engaged with you and your mom while you were here. It’s something I try to be and always think I’ll be, but, like always, I struggled with being present. I got your mom’s phone number at Saratoga in 1990, we’ve had our ups and downs here ever since. There is something about Saratoga that does that to, I believe, everyone. It’s vibrant and intoxicating but it’s also pressured and stressful. I wish I could deal with the latter better than I do.

Showman

Billy Howland buffed a brass chifney with a rub rag, walked in loose, light loops in front of the Old Chapel Farm consignment Monday night.

Named

He wrote the speeches, all of them, from the Hall of Fame to the Eclipse Awards.

He went to the father/daughter dances with Bob Baffert’s daughter, when the trainer went on the road to Churchill Downs or Dubai or Belmont Park, always calling his college buddy afterward and reminding him, “You owe me, brother. You owe me.”