Periodic columns from our staff and the occasional guest.

Monday: On the Road

Monday, Oct. 26, 2020.

Make the plan. Work the plan. Douglas Road and Mikey Mitchell did exactly that. A free-running, up-tempo horse, Douglas Road sat closer to the pace Saturday and delivered a head win over the game Eryx in the opener at International Gold Cup. 

Preakness Thursday is still Preakness Thursday

Thursday morning of Preakness Week typically brings many things to Pimlico Race Course: Sunrise tours of the stable area, Clydesdales, the Archbishop of Baltimore, banter among rivals at the Alibi Breakfast, selfies with the Woodlawn Vase and finishing touches for the Thoroughbreds entered in Saturday’s Grade 1 stakes.

Goodbye 20

This should be easy. The last one. Number 17 this year, instead of 34 last year. The 17th time I’ve sat down to type out a column that has been running for 20 years. Twenty years. Some of the early ones are shuddering, shocking, to read. If I didn’t own half this paper with my brother, many would have never seen the light of day, the print of the page. The last one of the season should be the easiest, just 800 words, half a page to say good- bye. I’ve done it 19 times before.

Derby Day

Tony Reinstedler had a place for me to stay. That clinched it, I was going to the Derby. After homemade seafood jambalaya and a couple of Abitas Monday night, Reinstedler pointed to a tent in his backyard. I could still hear music from Baxter Avenue as I fell asleep. Mark Hennig smuggled a backstretch parking pass and held a spot for my Honda Civic. I finagled a press pass from John Asher, it had Steeplechase Times in block letters. Doc Richardson handed me two glossy box tickets as I wandered aimlessly before the first on Oaks Day. I wound up at the Lavins’ party along the river. 

A Winner

Farm general manager Bruce Hill was at home, alone because his wife doesn’t want to be a jinx, when he sat down to watch Live Oak Stud homebred Win Win Win compete in the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga Race Course Saturday. 

Cup of Coffee: Ride Off

Once a year at Saratoga, I wistfully wish to ride a horse. And, most years, I lament that I didn’t ride a horse in Saratoga. 

Protest Power

Mack Robinson, Jackie’s brother, didn’t use his silver medal from the 1936 Summer Olympics to meet people. He wore his Olympic team jacket to the only job he could get, as a street sweeper. White residents of Pasadena, Cal., called the cops on Robinson and made him take off the jacket.

Cup of Coffee: In the Breed

It was quiet on Cazenovia Lake Sunday. The half-mile wide, four-mile long lake, about 20 miles southeast of Syracuse, offers fisherman a sweet spot for chain pickerel, bluegills, largemouth and smallmouth bass. Kayakers and canoers can pop in from Helen McNitt State Park. Swimmers can wade from the life-guarded sandy beach or jump into the 45- foot deep lake from their boats. And horse trainers can watch winners at Saratoga. 

Coach J.

We never called him The Big Unit.

Cup of Coffee: Family Portrait

There’s the photo of my family near the winner’s circle on the green slatted grandstand seats on a sunny August afternoon. My brother, Joey, clenched a $2 win ticket in his hands. My oldest sister, Michele, hovered next to me, making sure I didn’t fall off the seat while I looked through Dad’s binoculars, backward, of course.