The Inside Rail

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

Silence is Good

It’s been a week. No phone calls. Which is good news. As an owner, you know phone calls only bring bad news. Like waiting for the draft.

Counting the Days

There it is in cold, hard print next to Valdez’s name. 1204. Yeah, 1,204 days since his last run. We knew it had been a while, since that fateful day at Chepstow, two, three, four years ago…yeah, the day he fell, slid, strained, the day the house of cards came down.

The Fisher Eclipse

A barn divided…

Nah, not really, but around the Jack Fisher barn in Butler, Md., hearts were with Mr. Hot Stuff, heads, if pushed, were with Scorpiancer. The latter, with a 2-for-2 season that included a dominant win in the Grade 1 Iroquois, won the Eclipse Award as champion steeplechase horse for 2017. The former, riding a one-hit wonder in the Grand National, wound up third in the voting. The Jonathan Sheppard-trained All The Way Jose finished second, an independent between Fisher’s bookends.

Crack of Dawn

There is nothing that will wake you up quicker than a European horse sale. Well, there is nothing that will wake me up quicker than a European horse sale. The texts started beeping at 5:05 Tuesday morning.

Sharing a Derby Sandwich

It was 2001, my first spring off the steeplechase circuit and I had gotten to the Derby. Getting to the Derby and enjoying the Derby are two different things.

My friend, Tony Reinstedler, said he had a place for me to stay. He did – in a tent in his backyard off Baxter Street. No problem, we weren’t sleeping much.

Death and Coffee

The three of them talk, then pause, then another burst, then another pause. They pull up ideas, memories, monuments like they’re pulling up weeds from a garden. Occasionally a flower, a fruit, a gem to keep, to hold. Eyes moisten, but only for fleeting moments, the public results of private thoughts. No one notices.

Catching up at Charleston

Been a while. I’ve started many of these with those words, usually, following them with a vow to write more, write better. Not sure it’s ever happened.

Hot Stuff and then Some

Mr. Hot Stuff. Once called the Paris Hilton of horse racing, you know, famous for being famous, he’s still the most famous horse in steeplechasing. Veteran seems to have lost a step with four subpar efforts this year, although he was only beaten 5 ¼ lengths in the Lonesome Glory. Is there any magic left?

I wrote that paragraph from a hotel room, a few miles from Far Hills Race Course, Friday night while analyzing the field for the Grade 1 Grand National. By Saturday afternoon, we learned that there was so much magic left.

Check Lists

Passes. Pin. Form. Sport coat. Cords. Boots. Tie. Dress shirt. Socks. Form. Binoculars. Laptop. Ipad. Voice recorder. Pen. Another pen. Mints. Sunscreen. Phone.