Just another Weekend

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“How was your weekend?”

Simple question, a throwaway line from Tom at the Dodge dealership Monday morning. The farm truck needed its 30,000 mile service, I was just dropping it off, handing the keys over the counter and getting out of there. Did Tom really want to know about my weekend? Used to patrons coming in after weekends of watching football, cleaning the yard, sleeping late, going to Home Depot, eating at the local Appleby’s, Tom wanted to know about my weekend…

It started Thursday.

Eagle Poise entered in Sycamore at Keeneland. Check the weather. Enough rain for turf to be soft, doesn’t look like enough rain for mile and a half stakes to be taken off the turf. Can’t handle soft. Cancel flight. Receive text that it’s pouring at Keeneland. Graham Motion calls, there’s a chance it’ll come off. It comes off. Three scratches. 12-1 to 2-1. Wish I was there. We are stuck on couch in Virginia. All my friends and his fans represent. Big horse pulls too hard, too early, rocks Joe Rocco Jr. back in the tack, takes off, in front, too close, runs hard, finishes second. I kick the chair.

Friday. Finish final pieces of writing about Far Hills. Post on site. Pick 123 for Far Hills and International Gold Cup. Post. Not my best writing. 10:00 scheduled departure. Pack bags for the weekend. Make sure Miles is happy and comfortable, with his bag packed for his weekend at Camp Coon Tree. Horses look good in the field. Charles all set to housesit. Annie paying the help, organizing, checking. Announces 3 o’clock hair appointment in the East Village. Quick shower. We are late already.

Have passes, binoculars, sport coat, tie, hunt meet shoes. Full tank of gas. Drive out the driveway. Forgot a coat. Drive back in the driveway. Drive out the driveway.

Dulles Toll Road, 495, 95 North. Alternate phone calls, she talks about her horses, I talk about my horses. Forgot bottle of water. Traffic. New Jersey Turnpike. Pit stop. Can’t find Annie. Find her by car. Welcome to New York City. Holland Tunnel. Stay left. I am left. Stay left. I am left. Deep breath.

East Village. Hair cut. Only half hour late. Park the car, one hour parking. Perfect, Lagunitas IPA at the corner bar. Relax for 15 minutes. Phone rings. Hair cut finished. Around the block. Pick up Annie. Drive up town, across town, double park in front of apartment, unload bags, find parking garage.

Dinner scheduled for 7:30. Shower, ready, wait. Local, old-school, Italian place to celebrate Annie’s birthday. Lots of her old friends. Eight of us, including ex-boyfriend. Interesting. Good food, great wine. I survive.

Far Hills Morning. Same feeling as when I was a jockey. Shower, dress, tie lucky tie. 9:30 scheduled departure. We are late. Phone charger, check. Bags, check. Directions, check. Tank on full, check. Must beat traffic. Pay the garage, get the coffee. Annie yearns for the City before we’ve left. Out of the City by 10, not bad. Todd Wyatt calls to report about trip to International Gold Cup. He feels left out. He has less stress. Gate 4. Easy, smooth. “We are here too early.” “Better than too late.” Stop by the barn. Nervous trainers. Nervous owners.

Ground is firm. Fast. For a change. Wonder about ramifications of good horses, big purses on fast ground. First race, Kisser N Run wins, for the second year in a row, I wish we bought her. Second race, maidens, Janet Elliot happy with Canaveral. Third race. Riverdee’s first runner. Flag falls, eight jockeys look at each other. ‘You go. I’m not going. You go. I’m not going. You go. I’m not going.’ Apse goes, canters to first, leads for a circuit in a half. Miscue, pop, loses iron, slip, sliding away…I throw my binoculars, walk through the tailgate, trying to regain composure. Finally look up to see a photo finish and a dead horse. Not ours. Guess, it’s not that bad. Next race, last chance, no chance, Royal Bonsai runs terribly. Participation is over.

Divine Fortune skips around the Grand National course like he’s just let out of jail, my father yells for the horse, he has nothing to do with him, just yells for a horse who deserves a big one. Beautiful horse, beautiful ride, beautiful race. The rest of the day fades, Jack Fisher wins 3-year-old for Edie Dixon, I think of To Ridley, Indispensable and other servants who changed my life. Andrew Motion texts that Hear The Word won the flat race in Virginia, a little solace. I have to go interview the winners, feel the familiar air of a jocks’ room at the end of the day. Party at top of hill, watch replays while not wanting to watch replays. Trump National for dinner. I’m late. Again. Subdued, but nice. Our horses are going home, bad day, but at least they’re going home.

Can’t sleep. Wonder what I missed. Scan condition books. Sleep in. Read the Sunday New York Times for the first time in months, years. Breakfast, pack bags, check out, head home. Long trip while rehashing all the mistakes made. Back to Virginia. Pick up Miles. He tells us he didn’t miss us. “I love you, but I don’t miss you. I don’t miss anybody.” I guess that’s good – at least for him. Early dinner. Phone call, goat we gave away is coming back. It never ends. Home. Bed. Weekend over.

Hey, you asked.