The Inside Rail

It’s that time of year. Time for the annual ‘I’ll miss, I won’t miss.’

I’ll miss seeing The Special at the Morning Line Kitchen. I won’t miss The Special blowing off the tables at the Morning Line Kitchen.

I’ll miss Joe and Tom’s enthusiasm and respect for the craft. I won’t miss Joe and Tom walking around the office at midnight saying, “…only Sean’s column left.”

I’ll miss the large garden salad, no onions, no olives, add feta and grilled chicken from Spring Street Deli. I won’t miss the realization that Spring Street occasionally forgets the feta.

I’ll miss the breeze while driving my golf cart around the old Horse Haven track. I won’t miss the jarring while navigating my golf cart through drainage ditches at Virginia Kraft Payson’s barn on Caroline Street.

I’ll miss the lead ponies. I won’t miss the tired horses.

I’ll miss the breakouts. I won’t miss the breakdowns.

I’ll miss the feeling of being part of something big. I won’t miss the feeling like an accomplice when bad things happen.

I’ll miss the sun. I won’t miss the siren.

I’ll miss Joe and Tom’s dedication to Sunday-Tuesday runs in the State Park. I won’t miss Joe and Tom’s penchant for speeding up when I’m asking them to slow down.

I’ll miss Bill Mott’s raking brigade at the end of the morning. I won’t miss the drunken brigade marching past our office at the end of the afternoon.

I’ll miss seeing the light touches of Rob, Rodney, Alice, Eddie, Kelly, Jordan, Flaco and all of Shug’s exercise riders. I won’t miss the hard whips of exercise riders and jockeys who ride angry.

I’ll miss the paid advertisers who make The Special possible (thank them, support them). I won’t miss the advertisers who begin on good faith and wind up as bad pay.

I’ll miss Lauren Robson asking for the paper every morning. I won’t miss the few who say no when offered the paper in the morning.

I’ll miss the readers. I won’t miss the haters.

I’ll miss long turf races. I won’t miss short turf races, or at least, the repitition of them.

I’ll miss the trainers talking about their healthy horses. I won’t miss the trainers exasperated by the unhealthy middle in a top-heavy profession. Come on, owners, spread your horses around. It’s the only chance to rebalance the sport.

I’ll miss the morning breeze. I won’t miss the afternoon heat.

I’ll miss the gate crew leaning on the rail outside the clubhouse while killing time between races. I won’t miss seeing the gate crew getting tossed around like socks in the dryer.

I’ll miss talking old-school Saratoga with Josh Pons, Bill Higgins and Bobby Arcaro. I won’t miss the rumors of an eight-week meet, night racing and 25-race cards.

I’ll miss seeing The Special graduates doing great things. I won’t miss seeing America’s youth staring at their phones while life goes whizzing past.

I’ll miss the mints from the bathroom table. I won’t miss the bathroom lines on Travers Day.

I’ll miss breezes after the break. I won’t miss the uncertainty and uneasiness of watching breezes during a meet where too many horses have died.

I’ll miss the first piece of pizza. I won’t miss the third piece of pizza.

I’ll miss the calls and texts from happy readers who span the country, from Mason City, Iowa to Marathon, Fla, to Hackensack, N.J. I won’t miss the calls and texts from disgruntled gamblers who somehow think The Special has caused their demise.

I’ll miss the innocence of the youth. I won’t miss the jadedness of the old.

I’ll miss the conversations. I won’t miss the consternations.

I’ll miss hopping on my bicycle in the afternoon to take pictures of trainers’ shedrows for the Fasig-Tipton Stable Tour. I won’t miss forgetting to take the pictures when I was standing in front of the shedrows in the morning.

I’ll miss the spontaneity of the racing. I won’t miss the repetition of the newspaper.

I’ll miss seeing my father and sister coming to Saratoga on their annual visit. I won’t miss wishing I had more time with them on their annual visit.

I’ll miss sitting outside Ben & Jerry’s as Miles’ ice cream runs down his arm and into his shoes. I won’t miss missing Miles every day he’s not here.

I’ll miss knowing Maggie Sweet’s reading my words. I won’t miss knowing Maggie Sweet’s correcting my words.

I’ll miss the dogs on the backside. I won’t miss the spiders in the office.

I’ll miss hitting the track at 5:30 in the morning. I won’t miss walking out of the track at 7:30 at night (today’s finale goes off at 7:17).

I’ll miss the everyday possibility. I won’t miss the everyday disappointment.

I’ll miss Tom’s humor. I won’t miss Tom’s cardboard box with the words, “Wrap it up” that just landed on my desk.

I guess that’s a wrap – I’ll miss Saratoga.