"I think we should haze this new young reporter guy you have. Send him to do a story to a barn # that doesn't exist."
So came the text on the first day of the meet. Haze him? Come on, that's not hazing. That's like sending him to find the saddle stretcher, key to the quarter pole, left-handed lead shank, bucket of steam...we've all fallen for those old, tired tricks. To haze him, you have to be original. Barn # that doesn't exist? Come on, child's play.
You want to haze him? We can haze him.
So, young, intrepid cub reporter, today's assignment is...
Go to Todd Pletcher's barn and ask him to recount the time Life At Ten ran in the Breeders' Cup.
Write 3,000-word essays on Mike Hushion, Tom Voss, Bruce Levine and Mike Maker. Make sure you don't ask any yes or no questions and make sure you get long, insightful quotes.
Write a story about Ken Ramsey without using the word kitten.
Go to Chad Brown's barn and ask him to show you Normandy Invasion's foot abscess.
Ask Christophe Clement about his last trip to Puerto Rico.
Go to Bill Mott's barn, oh around 8 in the morning, perhaps while he's jogging horses for soundness, and ask him to show you all his horses. Or about the time Cigar went to Boston. Or maybe the Zayat years.
Go to the press box and ask the New York beat writers what they think of steeplechasing. Ask them to recount their favorite jump race at Saratoga and who they like in today's first.
Ask Matt Muzikar about the time he dropped the sandwiches at the backstretch kitchen.
Ask John Panagot for advice on how he mastered the interview process with Bobby Frankel.
Find John Fahey.
Ask Gabby Gaudet about the time she wrote about a black dress and ask Ryan Jones about the time he wrote about a trainer running from the winner's circle.
Walk up to Rick Violette and tell him you don't believe in Lasix and give him your top 10 reasons why (we bet you don't get to the second). Poke your finger at him while you're at it and mention that you think all trainers cheat.
Take a drink at the Big Red Spring next to the paddock (too easy).
Interview Tom Durkin about calling the Mine That Bird Kentucky Derby.
Follow Steve Asmussen into the grandstand when he has one in the feature, and right about the time the gate opens, pull out your recorder and ask him to talk you through what he's feeling, what he's seeing.
Walk into the jocks' room hot box with a soda and a sandwich.
Go to Thirteen on Caroline Street Monday night and interview jockeys about their Wednesday rides.
Find The Wizard.
Write a column about the view from the top of the new stand across from the eighth pole of the Oklahoma training track.
Ask Sean Clancy about the time he fell off at the wire at Saratoga.
Take Merrill Scherer to the Reading Room and then call us from porch.
Stop by Barclay Tagg's barn and ask him if he has any Funny Cide beer.
Paddle the canoe.
Hold this horse in ice for The Chief (see you tomorrow).
Write a detailed report of past 2-year-old winners at Saratoga and research where they are now.
Go to Graham Motion's barn and ask him how enjoys training for Team Valor.
Stop by the Morning Line Kitchen and ask Bill Hirsch if he knows any old stories.
Call Thoroughbred Times' office and ask for Tom Law.
Ask Chris Kay whom he plans to hire as director of racing.
Here, carry these Keeneland catalogues and distribute them across the street.
Track down Ian Wilkes and ask him what he thought of Fort Larned's breezes on Saturday and Tuesday.
Go over and get on Town Hall for David Jacobson, just take a nice, light hold of him and let him run around the turn. Maybe, put your whip in your right hand.
At 10 a.m. Friday, as the horses step on the turf, ask Bryan Walls if you can borrow a stopwatch.
Ask Manu and Phil if you can drive the big truck.
Go to the Morning Line Kitchen and order a latte.
Stop by Shug's barn for a story on the stallion Strong Hope, sire of allowance winner Seal Cove.
Go to the Anchor Inn and ask for Denny McCabe.
Call Lane's End, Three Chimneys and Adena Springs and ask why they don't advertise in The Special.
When you accomplish all those, you'll be a fully initiated brother of The Saratoga Special. Welcome aboard.