The Inside Rail

Contributions from TIHR co-founder, editor and writer Sean Clancy.

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

Cup of Coffee: Missing It

I’ll miss it. I won’t miss it. The one-off, fill-the-space column became a tradition at The Special. Usually, late in the meet when Saratoga, summer, begins to fade away, when perspective is about all there is left to contemplate, to celebrate. 

Cup of Coffee: Deep Water

The Mickey Walsh Novice Stakes today. The New York Turf Writers Cup tomorrow. Jump jockeys and horses will compete on the fastest, tightest, the least-room-for-error track on the circuit. The most lucrative. The most important. Winning is good. Winning at Saratoga is forever. 

To Absent Friends

It did not register. Did not occur to us. Until it began. When Joe and I started Steeplechase Times in 1994, the challenge of writing about our friends, our colleagues, our cohorts was exhilarating. Their wins, their moments. Their races, their results. We quickly realized, with the wins come the losses. The human losses. Who would write about those? 

Tiz Franco

Manny Franco played shortstop. Watched Derek Jeter. Cheered for the Yankees. Franco was quick, deft at turning a double play, fast on the basepaths, could hit a curve. Baseball was all he wanted to do, dreaming of the big leagues.