The Inside Rail

It’s that time of year. The Travers has come and gone, the downward slide has begun. To celebrate our final print edition (the final four Specials will be digital only), I bring you the annual “I’ll miss. I won’t miss” column.

I’ll miss neighbors like Peter Tenbeau who couldn’t make Carolina’s lemonade stand but dropped off a donation to the Racetrack Chaplaincy. I won’t miss neighbors who get louder with every beer and leave the cans behind.

I’ll miss the emails, thanking us. I won’t miss the emails, blasting us.

I’ll miss Rusty and Sarah Arnold’s cats. I won’t miss the office fruit flies.

I’ll miss the kids riding their bikes on the sidewalks, enjoying the world around them. I won’t miss the kids staring at their screens, oblivious to the world around them.

I’ll miss being in a racing town. I won’t miss being in a racing vacuum.

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

I’ll miss hearing the door of the office paper box open and slam, another reader on their way. I won’t miss hearing Tom Law’s front door open and slam, another morning past its due.

I’ll miss handing out winners. I won’t miss handing out losers.

I’ll miss talking horses at the rail. I won’t miss talking layout at the office.

I’ll miss asking questions. I won’t miss stumbling over my questions.

I’ll miss the readers who flag us down for today’s paper. I won’t miss the few who burrow their heads to their chests like we’re trying to wash their windshield at a red light.

I’ll miss betting. I won’t miss fretting.

I’ll miss Carmen Barrera. I won’t miss walking past her office knowing she’s gone.

I’ll miss Joe, Tom and the rest of The Special team. I won’t miss missing Annie, Miles and our Virginia farm.

I’ll miss Tom’s tomatoes and basil from his garden. I won’t miss eating dinner from a plastic container.

I’ll miss on the record. I won’t miss off the record.

I’ll miss the photo of the day. I won’t miss trying to find the photo of the day.

I’ll miss the phone books written on the tack-room walls. I won’t miss the phone calls in the middle of the night.

I’ll miss the bottle of Tums on my desk. I won’t miss the need for Tums on my desk.

I’ll miss tracking Tom at the Saratoga Stryders Monday night runs. I won’t miss fading behind Tom at the Saratoga Stryders Monday night runs.

I’ll miss being somewhere where people want to be. I won’t miss the want-to-be people.

I’ll miss the ponies enjoying their work. I won’t miss the horses needing a break.

I’ll miss the horses who walk into the winner’s circle like they accomplished the impossible. I won’t miss the owners who yank and pull on horse’s shank like they won a teddy bear at the local fair.

I’ll miss the potential of a dry track. I won’t miss the enormity of the dry-cleaner bill.

I’ll miss the yellow Labrador Retriever who just walked past our office. I won’t miss the yellow Post-It notes reminding me of all the reasons I won’t go for a walk today.

I’ll miss the back stories. I won’t miss the over-told stories.

I’ll miss the trainers who call us back because we’re The Special. I won’t miss the trainers who don’t call us back because they’re special.

I’ll miss the interviews that feel like conversations. I won’t miss the interviews that feel like arraignments.

I’ll miss Joe saying “Here & There” is finished. I won’t miss Joe saying, “Here & There” is light.

I’ll miss Elate in the morning. I won’t miss late at the office.

I’ll miss day trips to Cooperstown and the Boilermaker. I won’t miss morning trips to backstretch bathrooms without soap or paper towels.

I’ll miss the enthusiastic interns, their futures ahead of them. I won’t miss the jaded veterans, their irrelevance grinding away at them.

I’ll miss gathering quotes. I won’t miss transcribing notes.

I’ll miss doing Fasig-Tipton Stable Tours with Shug, Jimmy and Mott. I won’t miss being turned down by trainers who would learn a lot if they read the Fasig-Tipton Stable Tours with Shug, Jimmy and Mott.

I’ll miss the beer list at Henry Street Taproom. I won’t miss the to-do list of The Special.

I’ll miss the fans bounding into the track each day, talking about jockeys, trainers and horses. I won’t miss the protestors clogging the way.

I’ll miss the subtle brilliance of Jose Ortiz and the other soft-handed jockeys. I won’t miss the bullying force of some of the whip-happy others.

I’ll miss drifting on the golf cart through the stable area in the afternoon. I won’t miss the cutters driving too fast on Circular Street.

I’ll miss gliding past porches and gardens on my bike ride from the office to the house. I won’t miss slowing and waiting for the traffic on Lake Avenue.

I’ll miss the feature. I won’t miss the feature running in the dark.

I’ll miss the conversations that start, “I’m glad you guys wrote about…” I won’t miss the conversations that start, “You know what you guys should write about…”

I’ll miss these old days. I won’t miss feeling like an old timer.

I’ll miss Saratoga.