The Inside Rail

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

Real Fear

Just like old times, I woke up worrying, fretting, irritable. My wife, Annie, recognized it, she had seen it in 1994 after we had our first date. Misdirected stress, snapping at anybody in the way, kicking the cat, the dog, hell, anything I could find. Self indulgent, ridiculously self-absorbed, it was how I handled the pressure of riding races, well, handled, would be a stretch. I rode races for 13 years and have spent the next 18, apologizing for how I acted on race days.


Cup of Coffee: Wire Idea

Bas Nicholl called me last week. The longtime assistant trainer for D. Wayne Lukas has called me twice before. Once, Nicholl called to thank me for leading the Travers feature with Will Take Charge and him and once when we misquoted Nicholl in Here & There. One out of two ain’t bad.

Cup of Coffee: In Command

George Handy decided to go for bigger things, closing his stable at Lincoln Downs in Rhode Island to try his hand at Liberty Bell Racetrack in Philadelphia. It was 1970. Handy’s assistant, Ned Allard, figured he better leave too. Without a job and with just a $1,500 claimer, Handy allowed him to train on the side, Allard began to make plans to hit the road. But, Fleetness Rules was ready to run, the owner wanted to run, Allard got talked into staying to run him, just once. 

Cup of Coffee: Dave

Today is the Fourstardave Stakes, run in the memory of the New York-bred gelding who won a race at Saratoga for eight consecutive seasons from 1987 to 1994. Friday evening, Richard Migliore talked about his memories of Fourstardave’s magical run. We turned up the TV and listened to the jockey who can tell stories better than Tolkien. Migliore got me thinking about my memories of Fourstardave, when I galloped horses for Leo O’Brien and his family. 

Cat 1. Bird 0.

Wayne Catalano stood still for a moment. The 62-year-old trainer leaned against the outside rail, waiting for his big horse, Farrell, to complete a circuit of the main track the day before she won the Shuvee at Saratoga. This is the only way Catalano pauses, when his horse is on the other side of the infield lake and there’s nothing else to do but wait for her.

Voice Mail

A few readers have told us that they save up The Specials all summer, then pull them out and read them one by one in the dead of a Saratoga winter. 

Jones Salute

We’re proud of Quint Kessenich, Pete Fornatale, Frank Scatoni, Jim Mulvihill, Travis Stone, John Lies, Liz Ronk, John Panagot, Brian Nadeau, Joanie Morris, Katie Bo Williams, Gabby Gaudet, Kristin Brennan, Madison Scott, Michael Smith, Annise Montplaisir and all the former interns. They got up early, stayed late, made The Special their own before finding their own niches, some in our sport, all in life. I know we’ll be proud of the 2018 class.

Welcome Back

Willie McCarthy sent a message.

Appreciate the mention last night Sean…I’LL BE BACK…!

Storm City

Penelope Miller got stuck at Ben & Jerry’s when the city lost power one day in Saratoga. Saturday morning, she cackled with delight about the day she was the kid in the candy store. You know the storms here, the ones that come out of nowhere, like they’re mad at you, Wizard-of-Oz wind, slamming rain, filling up the trough near the Parting Glass and blowing out the power grid. It’s something about the mountains.

My Man

I was in love. Twenty-one and head-over-heels, walk-off-a-cliff in love with a beautiful Greek girl from Birmingham, Alabama. I met Annie Kontos at Atlantic City Racecourse, she was wearing a red dress, my life was never the same. I came home for Thanksgiving, 1991, the first time to meet her family, her whole family. Mom, dad, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and cousins – everybody was a cousin.