Saturday Morning

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“Cheers Sean…Just got out of op not feeling to bad now!”

That was the text from Jack Doyle, delivered at 12:02 Friday morning, after a crashing fall from Rudyard K in the novice stakes at Belmont Park Thursday afternoon. Doyle suffered two small fractures in the front of his pelvis and a fractured coccyx (tailbone). Atop the standings, Doyle is now grounded with rides like Rawnaq going up in flames, Doyle’s name scratched off today’s overnight like yesterday’s sandwich special.

Tough game.

I sent Doyle a text earlier that night, “Hang tough,” not knowing if he had his phone or how he was doing. I woke up to his text, good to hear his spirits were OK, his body OK.

There is nowhere lonelier than a hospital bed, in the middle of the night, painkillers rushing around, every itch or squirm sends shudders through your body, the stark florescent lights, the curtains sliding on metal beads, the nurses doing their best but in a fill-in-the-dots, hourly-shift kind of way. Your life is torn asunder again, the payoff to the thrill, the rush. The traveling circus goes on without you, whether it’s Aiken or Atlanta or Nashville or Belmont Park, you are left behind, with nothing but a sweat-smelling flak jacket, grass-stained breeches and your fears. At least, today, a comrade from the jocks’ room will drop off your phone, late-night texts keeping you company. 

Todd Wyatt suffering through a testing season where little has gone right. The game goes in funny ways sometimes, nobody takes it harder than Wyatt, I keep saying and texting, “It will come around.” He runs several today (two for Riverdee), maybe, it’s today.

Miles and I were due to make the trip to Shawan Downs to see Tricky Hat and The Grange run, while catching the third at Parx from the top of the hill while they warm up for the first. Miles just walked in the room, clearing his throat, “Dad, my throat’s sore.” Just loud enough for Annie to hear him, she ordered the thermometer, a long-sleeve shirt, a glass of water.

My prescription? Fresh air for an afternoon. Horses running and jumping. The country. The perfect tonic.