The things I learned . . .

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“Well, I’ve been turnstiled, junkpiled and railroaded too . . . I’ve been laid low but don’t you know . . . “

On my way home from Belmont Park, after five weeks of roil and rollick, Townes Van Zandt ushered out the Triple Crown with this gem as I carved my way around the Beltway, well after midnight, pistachios keeping me company. He’s talking about love, I guess, but sure sounded like he was talking about the Triple Crown 2012. Any Triple Crown, for that matter. Bob Baffert, Mike Smith and Zayat Stable got turnstiled. Optimizer got junkpiled. Doug O’Neill got railroaded. John Velazquez laid low . . .

Yup, it’s all over. Another trip down the rapids of horse racing. Like any student (sap) of the game, I learned a lot this year.

1. The leader always comes off the fence.

2. You’re better off getting a one-race commitment from your first choice than a three-race commitment from your second-choice.

3. Stop fighting the Bob Baffert machine and simply use him on every exotic ticket.

4. If the press wants to be negative, they will be negative.

5. Go with your first impression, don’t over-analyze or over-think.

6. Turf/synthetic horses might get away with it at Churchill, but not at Belmont Park.

7. Take John Velazquez for a million dollars.

8. Hastings Park is a bullring in British Columbia.

9. Chad Hoverson and Frank Fuentes are gracious veterans riding at Hastings.

10. Looks aren’t everything (Gemologist in Derby).

11. Looks are everything (Union Rags in Belmont).

12. You can pick out a Belmont winner in a 2-year-old sale in February. Union Rags, hip 63, at Fasig-Tipton, I scrawled “Awesome horse” across his pedigree page.

13. A freshman in college knows more about marketing than a company executive.

14. The Maryland Jockey Club still throws the best party.

15. You can get from Belmont Park to Fair Hill in three hours immediately after the Belmont.

16. The Belt Parkway looks like Indonesia (according to a college sophomore).

17. Post position draws are not meant for spectators.

18. The winner’s circle photo celebrations stress a horse as much as the race.

19. If you draw the rail in the Derby, scratch.

20. Fame can be fast – and fleeting.

21. Three races at three racetracks with three sets of rules is shameful.

22. You can get anywhere with a microphone in your hand.

23. Making jockey decisions in March is like making college plans in utero.

24. Six minutes (2 X 2 X 2) of excitement overrides five weeks of hassle, strife and stress.

25. It’s good to be home.