Making it big with little things

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It’s the little things . . .

The car key snapped to Rosie Napravnik’s right belt loop.

The program, 50 cents, sign on Bruce Levine’s barn.

Danielle Hodsdon’s smile of vindication after winning the A.P. Smithwick.

Brian Ange spraying Rodney Paine with a water bottle, reserved for Endorsement.

The smiles from Lucy and the Morning Line Kitchen girls, all morning, every morning.

Catching a ride on the running board of Chris Baker’s SUV on the way out of the races after the Whitney.

The scuffle of my nephew’s feet, as he walks his first horse of the morning at Graham Motion’s barn.

The copper coat of Beau Choix.

The coats and ties of the steeplechase jockeys (most of them).

The blue pen tucked in Arch Kingsley’s flak jacket.

The work ethic of Gabby Gaudet and Ryan Jones.

The honesty of Memorial Maniac, who jumped a hurdle while pointing at the infield pond.

Steve Rushing’s polished paddock boots.

The attention to detail from Tod Marks.

The rolling expanse of Greentree.

The turnstile rotation of the racing office door.

The Holland Tunnel echo of Dave Harmon’s laugh.

The angst, disguised as confidence, of the consignors.

The cameras.

Bob Ribaudo’s sense of history.

The Chief’s prowess and position, no one has ever won races for six decades like Jerkens.

Summer dresses.

The dirt.

The solitude of Payson World behind the Annex on Caroline Street.

The first-time winners – and their reactions – at the Spa, Matt Groff did it Sunday, “We made some memories today. Incredible. Dreams do come true.”

The garlic wafting through the morning air and I don’t mean from Garlic Rob.

The lead ponies.

Shoeshine Chico.

Todd Pletcher chirping as Leah Gyarmati gallops past on ex-racehorse Diligent Gambler and the horse’s reaction to lower it down like the old days.

The cut-out photo of Gary Sciacca, pinned to the clocker’s stand wall.

The width between the eyes of Ron The Greek.

The trees inside the racetrack grounds, providing shade, comfort and stability.

The dedication from Ramon Dominguez, the alacrity of John Velazquez and the exuburence of Irad Ortiz.

The comical outlook from Mike Grigely after we spelled his name Grigley in the caption and headline of his story.

The change of attitude and output from the NYRA press office, proving that enthusiasm and diligence will win out.

The discovery, when a horse walks past in the morning and you stop the conversation in mid-sentence, awed and intrigued, stumbling to the rail just to see her in motion.

The transformation over a series of summers of jockeys such as Jose Lezcano, who was good, then better, then arrived.

The “Where have you been all my life?” look from a first-time visitor to Saratoga, Irish Thoroughbred Marketing’s Daithi Harvey, the most recent.

The red and white painted signs.

The eruption of applause for Ramon Dominguez when he won six, for Jerkens when he won the Prioress, for Ian Wilkes when he opened the door of the trustees room after winning the Whitney.

The open mouth of veteran jumper Sunshine Numbers while galloping Sunday morning.

Clare Court.

The valets.

The coups.

The readers.

The woman jogger in the (old) Saratoga Special T-shirt.

The horse noises.

The backstretch grit.

The conformation differences of the winners.

The cold, crisp taste of champagne for the winners.

Rick Violette’s one-comment trigger to stand up and say what he believes.

Shug’s corner.

The loyalty of Bill Mott’s team.  

The music from his Eddie Barker’s truck parked outside his barn.

. . . the little things.