The Inside Rail

“It’s good to see you.”

You hear it all day, every day. You say it all day, every day. 

And then, every once in a while, you really mean it. Like, really mean it. Coming back to Saratoga after missing last summer, yeah, we really mean it. 

I heard myself saying it – and meaning it – at the track Thursday and on the backside all morning Friday…it’s good to see you…it’s good to see you…it’s good to see you…

It’s good to see Mike Hoffman and the Weekend Hideaway crew, saluting their mentor, their friend, Anthony Smith with an Opening Day celebration. 

It’s good to see Tracy Attfield walking the beat, iPad tucked like a pistol in her holster, an entrepreneur who created a product to solve a problem and has done it her way ever since. 

It’s good to see turf works.

It’s good to see Dick Knapp and Bob Agnello on the Bill Mott turn, fiddling with technology while enjoying tradition. And it will be good to see Doc Richardson and Bran Laue at the same spot, same conversation sometime later in the summer.

It’s good to see Mott training his dog, Winston, to sit, lie down and jump in the air like Jordan from the foul line.  

It’s good to see the brewing brouhaha between John Shapazian and Tom Law (come on Charles, Rob and Jessica) in The Saratoga Special handicapping showdown. Tom picked five on Opening Day and four on Friday – but who’s counting, right?

It’s good to see Rodney Paine, Simon Harris, Harry Rice and all the valets. They never change, nine, 10, 11 races a day, week after week, year after year. 

It’s good to see a 2-year-old filly who walks into your frame and doesn’t leave. Hello Microbiome. 

It’s good to see my brother, Joe Clancy, and my friend, Tom Law, at their desks late into the night, juking and jiving with another deadline. We were three islands last year, a socially distant newspaper is not a newspaper. 

It’s good to see and listen to the bands. Don’t walk past, just stop and listen to a note or three. 

It’s good to see jockey Mike Luzzi, cast and all, driving his golf cart, nothing to do but wait and heal, a racetracker at heart. 

It’s good to see Alysse Jacobs at her corner desk in her corner office, oh, how good it would be to see Carmen Barrera there as well. 

It’s good to see the print edition of The Special, our 21st year, our 20th print run.

It’s good to see Bryan Walls, clicking stopwatches and working his magic from the Oklahoma clocker’s stand.

It’s good to see the tomato plants, just a couple more weeks, boys. 

It’s good to see Phil Gleaves’ smiling face and corner string. 

It’s good to see the jockeys walking through the crowds again. 

It’s good to see Gary Sciacca win one Thursday and inch ever closer to the 1,000-win milestone…three to go.

It’s good to see Steve Asmussen win two early and inch ever closer to the all-time win record…18 to go. 

It’s good to see fans. Fans at the track, the way it’s meant to be.  

It’s good to see Keith O’Brien still riding his own, same hands, same balance that won the 1996 Turf Writers. 

It’s good to see Dr. Jazz opening the paper box for the first edition. 

It’s good to see Marylou Whitney’s eton blue and brown silks in the winner’s circle. 

It’s good to see Manny, Patrick the Mailman and the Times Union paperboys. 

It’s good to see my old friend jingling for the Salvation Army outside the gate. 

It’s good to see the Morning Line Kitchen abuzz with cups and tips, war horses and wannabes, bankrolls and bacon rolls. 

It’s good to see Dominick Schettino get one on the board early. 

It’s good to see George and Cindy Weaver standing outside the back door of their barn, looking at horses on the wash rack and trying to figure out which one needs Cindy’s second-nature coddling.

It’s good to see racetrack dirt caked on racetrack shoes. 

It’s good to see the racing office, agents working phones like air-traffic controllers, trainers watching replays, pills being pulled and claim slips being dunked. 

It’s good to see the regulars at the Paddock Bar. Did they ever leave?

It’s good see a copy of Saratoga Days behind the bar in the Founders’ Room at the 1863. Thanks Caroline. 

It’s good to see the chipmunk story by Carole Williams land on my desk. 

It’s good to see my old friend directing traffic at the Union Avenue gap. 

It’s good to see a last-night pizza box from 9 Miles East sitting on the office table the next morning.  

It’s good to see exercise riders Rob Massey, Roger Horgan, Carlos Correa, Lena Lorieul and all the other sure-handed magicians. You’ve still got it. 

It’s good to see horses flitting past the trees on Clare Court, a kaleidoscope of motion and movement. 

It’s good to see the battered “Jerkens” sign at the end of Barn 75, like they built the barn around the sign.

It’s good to see Pat Kelly.

It’s good to see the old girl brimming with vibe and verve, fans rushing in, horses bounding home, just like old times. 

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