We are back in business. Our allies rallied. Thank you. That’s the last we’ll write about it. Hopefully. Now we can write about Saratoga – about the victories, the defeats, the track, the town, the horses, the characters, the moments.
We can write about my nephew Jack giving three exercise riders from Todd Pletcher’s a ride from their broken down golf cart (come on, Todd) to the harness track in the morning. And then giving Shoeshine Chico a ride to the track (he’s moved to the clubhouse, we’ll find out where) in the afternoon.
We can write about trainers finishing second and foregoing rides in the golf cart to take “decompression” walks back from the track. The trainers take the brunt of the Saratoga pressure.
We can write about John Kimmel’s new pony.
We can write about Wise Dan breezing on the turf Friday morning. The two-time champ closes in on his return after colic surgery this spring.
We can write about Shaun Bridgmohan walking back to the jocks’ room after crashing to the ground when Saluda stumbled out of the gate in the sixth. “They said break and go,” the jockey said. “She broke and went.” Bridgmohan had that look that only jockeys can have – part fear, part awe, adrenaline still racing – as his comrades pulled ear buds from their ears, stopped interviews and turned away from the replay to check on him. Brothers in arms.
We can write about the void left by the Chief staying in Florida.
We can write about how some owner ought to fly him up here and give him six to train for the meet.
We can write about the freedom of watching five consecutive races on a glorious afternoon at Saratoga, an hour after listening to Barack Obama address the world about the bombing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. A Roman Catholic nun, a champion rower, an AIDS researcher, a Canadian medical student…298 passengers, people, gone.
We can write about Jeremiah Englehart winning the opener at the Spa. “Now we can go home,” the trainer said. Pure relief.
We can write about seeing old friends.
We, well I, can write about Miles. Due here August 4!
We can write about a new battalion of interns, about the places they’ll go and the lessons they’ll learn at The Special. Today’s lesson, you always have time for your mother when she calls.
We can write about new jockeys, welcoming the likes of Corey Lanerie, Brian Hernandez and Andre Worrie to Saratoga.
We can write about how much we miss Neil Howard, Ralph Nicks and our other favorite trainers who aren’t here.
We can write the annual column, “You know you’ve made it when, you know you haven’t made it when…” One for today, “Hey, Chad. Chad Summers. I love the show. You do a great job.” From a guy to me, in the grandstand today.
We can write about watching Sweet Reason gallop Friday morning.
We can write about Mark Hennig catching George Weaver’s horse in the paddock before the last. “Wesley Ward slowed him down,” Hennig said.
We can write about Frankie Dettori winning two races and doing three flying dismounts while wearing Rajiv Maragh’s breeches (Dettori’s luggage was lost at JFK) in Saratoga. “It’s a childhood dream to get to Saratoga, never had the chance. I never thought I would get a chance because we have big meets during Saratoga. It was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse, I thought, ‘why not?’ Getting the first one is a big weight off my shoulders. It’s mad here. Mental here. I was as nervous as I was having my first ride as a kid today. Going to a new place, a new environment, a lot is expected of me, I’m glad I could win a race. You’ve got to tick things off your bucket list and this was one of those. I’m 43, I’m not going to ride forever.”
We can write about Saratoga. Finally.