Memory Rains

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They braved the rain for Rick Violette.

Old-school trainers, Pat Kelly, Rick Schosberg, Bill Hebert, Mike Hernandez. Valet Rodney Paine, yellow slicker, carrying Luis Saez’s winning tack stood next to a woman in white and a man in a suit. Executive comrade, Alan Foreman, looked like he just walked out of court and into a car wash. Andy Belfiore, without a jacket or umbrella, didn’t hesitate or waver, just as Violette would have expected. New York Thoroughbred Horseman’s Association president Joe Appelbaum, trying to fill big shoes, found a spot in the back row. Longtime owner Ralph Evans, NYRA’s track guru Glen Kozak, retired announcer Tom Durkin, NYRA president David O’Rourke wouldn’t have missed this. Venerable assistant Melissa Cohen, who Violette once called sainthood, of course, was there.

“You know he’s up there, smiling down on us,” Cohen said, after a long, wet hug with an old friend.

They present trophies every day during Saratoga’s 40-day bender, this one was part family reunion, part business conference, part water park. And all Rick Violette. The revered horse trainer and tireless NYTHA president died October 21, 2018. It probably rained that day, too.

Minutes after Sky Of Hook nailed Listentoyourheart in the final stride of the $100,000 stakes for New York-bred juveniles, winning trainer Rudy Rodriguez pulled down his hood, shook the water off his shoulders and turned down a champagne toast in the Saratoga Room.

“Maybe Rick sent the rain to us,” Rodriguez said, pointing to the sky. “Thank you Rick.”

Winning trainers love the rain.

To read the rest of the Rick Violette recap, download Thursday’s digital edition of The Saratoga Special presented by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners.