“Hey, that’s the paper delivery girl.”
Indeed I did deliver papers Wednesday through Sunday. From the Saratoga Morning Line kitchen to the Oklahoma annex, I covered a lot of ground from 5:30 to 7 a.m.
If you didn’t meet me during my paper route maybe I passed you while galloping horses for Graham Motion. It’s possible I interviewed you before a big race or after a big win. Maybe you read my piece on Ida Schultz and the late Elaine Klein or my feature on the well-liked Joe Rocco Jr.
I came to The Saratoga Special not as a writer but as an exercise rider. That has been my title for the past seven years. I grew up on the backside of Delaware Park. I am third generation in the racing business.
A few days before the 2013 Saratoga meet began, I walked into the Broadway office completely out of my element. I always enjoyed writing, but I gallop horses. Horses are what I know. I can put on a saddle, a bridle and four polos. I can breeze a horse 5 furlongs from the gate. I can tell you the difference between a ring bit and a Houghton.
Walking up to Christophe Clement to ask him about Ruthenia was out of my comfort zone. Tell me to go see Todd Pletcher and ask him about Shanghai Bobby’s comeback, I’d rather not.
In the beginning my stomach turned when Tom Law would give me an assignment. Amy Tarrant was my first interview. I awkwardly asked terrible questions. She was so nice and tolerant. Maybe this wasn’t so bad. I eased into it from there. Suddenly trainers, jockeys and owners I had idolized my whole life were just people like everyone else. I gained confidence in my writing, in speaking. I deservedly got put in my place a few times.
I went into the Broadway office for the last time last Friday night. The floors were still uncarpeted and covered with paper. The long tables that the interns worked from were empty; no one was there to complain about the lack of chairs.
A room dedicated to an archive of papers was full now, with only one issue to go. The television remained black; I think it was turned on once in the entirety of the meet.
The Twizzlers were finally gone, replaced by chewy caramels, not the same.
Ryan Martin was not there to tell us how great Spring Street Deli is. Gabby Gaudet was not there to spread her infectious happiness around the office. Ryan Jones had gone back to Brown University, I am convinced he will be president one day.
Joe was still in his chair, staring at a computer screen, literally pulling his hair out. Sean was quiet in the office at the end of the hallway. If you were brave enough to walk down there you might get a motivational speech. I got more than that. He played me a voicemail from Richard Klein about my piece on his late mother, touching. Tom never stopped typing. He could hold a full conversation and write an article at the same time, talent. I said my goodbyes and despite my unaffectionate nature, gave hugs.
Thank you to everyone who didn’t blow me off when I asked a stupid question, or take offense when I called your gelding a filly. Sorry to anyone I almost ran over during my early-morning paper route.
Thank you for taking a few minutes out of your busy lives to tolerate a new journalist trying to find her place in the industry.
Sean told me when I came here on that second week in July, “take what you want from this job. If you want to make something out of this experience you will.”
I think I took the best. I hope I can make you proud.