What do you do after this? It’s a logical question after the madness of seven weeks at Saratoga. It’s also part of the reason why you like us, you won’t see us (much) until next year. The easy answer is we’ll walk away – from the track, from the circus, from daily publishing, daily racing. We’ll write, but at nothing near the intensity. We’ll reintroduce ourselves to our wives, our children (or chickens in Tom’s case) and go back to the regularly scheduled program.
It’s really the best part of The Special, we get to stop. We take a deep breath and find some space. Writers needs inspiration. Dave Grening, you are our hero, for the way you can keep going, from Saratoga to Belmont to Aqueduct and beyond, we are glad you don’t work in a shoe store. As for us, we’ll be watching the racing but not necessarily covering the racing, although, we’ll plan some trips for the jump races at Belmont, the Jockey Club Gold Cup, the Pennsylvania Derby, the Maryland Million, maybe a weekend at Keeneland and the Breeders’ Cup.
After living a daily checklist – distribute, sell, report, write, edit, proof, repeat – I have made a new to-do list. We’ll see how many I can tick off by Christmas. And, yes, Joanie Morris, this is a list
Tuesday, September 2, 2014.
Unpack the car.
Put away the voice recorder, hide it, stash it, lose it.
Send bills, hope to get paid.
Talk to people without hoping they say something funny for Here and There.
Watch a race to watch a race, just to see who wins. Turn the page and look at the next race, for fun, for a lark.
Take Miles to school. Pick him up. Listen to his stories. Read to him. Tuck him in at night.
Pack a picnic and spend the day with Miles at the Goose Creek.
Paddle down the Shenandoah with Doug Fout.
Go to the Virginia Fall Races, sit on the rocks, watch jumpers run across the horizon and fly the last at Glenwood Park.
Watch the Maryland Million to see Eighttofasttocatch defend his title.
Win a race at Far Hills in October.
Catch up with the Chief in Florida.
Go to the French Hound or Forlano’s or the Ashby Inn or all three with my wife. Just the two of us.
Better yet, Manhattan for a weekend.
Go to the post office and the coffee shop, without hurrying.
Go to the Cake Walk at Welbourne, listen to the Loose Marbles or some other Louisiana jazz band, sipping bourbon and laughing with the locals late into the night.
Sleep late, at least once.
Watch Saturday morning shows with Miles. The two of us on the couch. Milk for Miles. Coffee for me. Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown, Wildlife Docs, Ocean Mysteries, Sea Rescue, Animal Exploration and Expedition Wild. Three hours of escape.
Have a beer with Andrew Motion, Jack Holz and Dan Haney.
Spend a day with Tim Keefe at Laurel Park.
Road trip to Woodbine to see Brent Harris.
Borrow a horse and go fox hunting, first flight with Piedmont, remembering what it’s like to ride again. The simple escape of riding. Better yet, go hunting with 79-year-old father, first flight with Cheshire.
Count up the ATM receipts and figure out where the money went.
Walk around the farm. No aim, no schedule.
Pick the garden or what’s left of it.
Ride a horse with my wife.
Write something for fun. For the sheer joy, rather than for the deadline.
Read an issue of The New Yorker.
Enjoy the view out the back of our farm, without worrying about the board that’s broken, the grass that needs mowing or the horse who needs a new career.
Plant a tree at Riverdee’s gravesite.
Go see Eddie Graham and Hardest Core.
Reload stable for a Saratoga 2015 campaign.
Go find Toadie wherever the hell he is these days.
Book airfare and hotel for Tattersalls October Sale, looking for turf horses and steeplechase prospects. Find clients.
Take the nephews to the Grand Canyon (come on, it can happen).
Visit Jack Clancy at school.
Get a dog.
Email landlords for our security deposits.
Recycle the 2014 Saratoga Special brochures.
Design the 2015 brochure.
Frame the New York Times article on The Special from this summer.
Breeders’ Cup for HRRN, see who’s still standing from Saratoga and who’s waiting in California.
Write inspiring letters to Ryan, Dan, Katie, Kristin, Dan and all the interns/helpers from this summer.
Send thank you notes to everybody who was positive at the meet – to the supporters who rallied early, to the readers who left bake goods on our doorstep to the friends who invited us to parties, dinners and events.
Study the form from this year and figure out what we can do better next year.
Go see Annie’s family in Birmingham, Alabama and my family in Unionville, Pennsylvania.
Walk away from Google Mail, Twitter, Facebook and DRF.com for a week. OK, a day.
Turn off the phone.