The good old days

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These are the good old days.

The Morning Line Kitchen. The Paper Lady. The Fruit Man. The horses walked right down Gridley Avenue. Remember the loose horse that escaped from the stakes barn and ran down Jackson Street? John’s Call manned the Oklahoma side. Funny Cide reigned on the main track side. Grade I-winning ponies tied to trees.

These are the good old days.

Mike Hushion had a heart attack and was back at work in four days. Channing Hill had hair down his back. Michael Phelps won gold medals like Todd Pletcher won titles. Desormeaux won his 5,000th race on a New York-bred filly. How about Alan Garcia, man, that kid could ride. Larry Jones galloped his own and then won everything with Proud Spell and Kodiak Kowboy.

These are the good old days.

Shug rolled out 2-year-olds Persistently and Consequence. Linda Rice dominated the turf sprints, fillies against the boys didn’t matter. Parker Buckley. Storm Cat still topped the sales across the street. Paul worked the turf gap – worked it like a sergeant. Indian Charlie, man, how did he get away with it?

These are the good old days.

The Special ran a poll, Obama or McCain. Some wanted Daffy. Peter Pugh pedaled his bike around the barn area, all he needed was a horn. Lorna Chavez could gallop anything. David Donk won a turf race with a one-eyed colt. Tin Cup Chalice finally took home that big cardboard check the New York Thoroughbred Development Fund stored for years.

These are the good old days.

Those kids: Clancys, Badgetts, Matzes, Hennigs, McLaughlins, Motions, Carroll, Migliores, O’Briens, Velazquezes . . . man whatever happened to all of them? Christophe Clement put his horses on the shank and taught them to roll in his sand paddocks. Brant Laue and Doc Richardson held court on the turn of the Oklahoma. Sal Russo supplied Dominic Galluscio with his first cup of coffee every morning. The syndicates were big and getting bigger, didn’t Chico the Shoeshine Man try to start one up?

These are the good old days.

Johnny started with a bang. Dominguez struggled, then all of a sudden was vying for the lead. Prado grinded them out. Velasquez, the quiet man, never said an extra word while riding like a clock. Coa had everybody on the lookout. Garcia kept his nose clean and rode hard.

These are the good old days.

Remember that Alabama, when the filly of Godolphin’s looked home and hosed then that little filly of Larry Jones’ came fighting back? Barclay Tagg had that big gray horse who didn’t make his first start until he was 4. The Ramseys had four trainers over at the Annex and couldn’t refuse a claim slip. Remember IEAH Stable? They owned Big Brown and Ariege. Winning Move threw paint at the wall like Jackson Pollock. Carl Lizza kept the old school bell ringing.

These are the good old days.

Bruce Levine never got excited. Roddy Valente did. Bustin Stones missed the meet. Richard DeStasio took Jose Espinoza’s book and got him going. Curlin breezed like a Trojan horse once a week leading up to the Woodward. Dave Duggan, John Fahey and Chad Brown got going that meet. John Ward’s stable came back to life, winning three or four right off the bat.

These are the good old days.

Shug lined up all those horses outside his barn, you could just look down the row and feel like Federico Tesio. Dutrow never showed up but kept winning. Roberto Urrutia won a bunch of races. Pat Reynolds had that filly who went so wide in the that turf stakes, Backseat Rhythm. The jockeys couldn’t handle the sixth-graders in basketball, but beat the state police at softball.

These are the good old days.

Ginger Punch ruled supreme, but made Frankel nervous in the Personal Ensign. Sheppard and Voss rolled off the farm and into the winner’s circle. John Hertler won a stakes with Latitude Forty. Commentator won his second Whitney – three years after his first. Indian Blessing passed the Test.

These are the good old days.

Macho Again won the Jim Dandy then had to face every gun left on the 3-year-old scene in the Travers. Better Talk Now was going strong at 9. Grand Couturier won two straight Sword Dancers for Bobby Ribaudo. Allen Jerkens had everybody guessing. The sun came up. It rained. Then got cold. Joe’s kids had to go home. The Saratoga Special made it through its eighth season.

These are the good old days.