Carolina on my Mind

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The jumpers are off to Camden tomorrow. I’ll stay home, maybe catch a few races on the computer, do a little gardening, maybe go for a run, run the pitch count and dugout gate for Miles’ game. 

I’ll miss seeing Springdale in all its glory, the wide-open expanse, horses and hurdles, tailgates and keg stands, pine trees and pep talks. 

The memories of so many beautiful afternoons…

Castleworth in 1992, figuring a fifth-place check of $150 would go a long way to a senior in college and winding up with the big check, a shock to everyone, we celebrated at the Huddle House with the hash-brown-egg-and-the-works plate, the salve and salvation to trying to do 130 that day. The clerk of scales, Kip Elser, gave me a break that day. 

To Ridley a few years later, the big one, I won two that day and wound up in the hospital, knocked out from a last-race fall from Tonto McSwartz, a beautiful horse who deserved better. I saw myself on the 6 o’clock news and realized that I had indeed won the Cup, Toby Edwards gave me his dinner when I sat down at the restaurant on the main strip. I gradually remembered bits from the race, the hospital, the dinner. 

My last ride, Indispensable, in the Hobkirk Hill on a day that will go down as perhaps the worst day on the steeplechase weather chart. There wasn’t a spectator on the grounds, everyone there had a job. I wanted – needed – to go out on my own terms. 

Just a few of my memories. Anyone who has played our game has their own, etched forever, from the bedrock of our sport. Enjoy another drink from the Cup. 

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