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The Saratoga meet always figures prominently into everything we do throughout the year, especially the days leading up to and including the season itself, and 2018 proved no exception.

We purposely omit stories from our flagship publication The Saratoga Special in the This Is Horse Racing Top 10 countdown every year – if you’d like to see them check out click here – yet one or two from before or after the meet seem to sneak into the mix annually. Sean Clancy’s post from his The Inside Rail blog titled “Three weeks…” set the tone for the countdown to the 2018 meeting and proved one of the most read stories of the year.

Sean started the piece, originally published in Country Spirit Magazine, with the classic Red Smith quote about driving “north for about 175 miles, turn left on Union Avenue and go back 100 years.”

Much has changed about Saratoga since Smith penned those words – on so many levels – but most of the old racetrack’s charms remain. We try to capture those every summer in The Special, but back to the column.

“When I was a kid, Saratoga was summer,” Sean wrote. “My brother, sister and I would pile into the Imperatore horse van, stalls screens tied across the open doors, in the middle of the night (Dad said the horses shipped better at night) and pile out on the loading chute outside the barn. Old jumpers with names to match – Town And Country, Odd Man, Smokum Scout – would walk off the van and into the cauldron. We walked Dad’s horses under the trees, rode our bikes (no shoes, no helmets, cut-off jean shorts) to breakfast, opened a lemonade stand one summer, swam in the quarries outside of town, ripped our hands and knees on the alpine slides in Vermont, spilled spaghetti on our Searsucker at the Italian place with the blue awnings. Some kids had Disney World, we had Saratoga. We won a few, lost a bunch and tried to make summers last forever.”

The column ran June 29 and is No. 9 on the TIHR Top 10 for 2018.

No. 9: Three weeks…

Check out the rest of the TIHR Top 10 for 2018:

No. 10: Throwback Thursday: The first Winterthur Point-to-Point

Check back Monday for No. 8.