A Cup of Coffee--Sunday, Sept. 2, 2001

By Sean Clancy
From The Saratoga Special, reprinted with permission

This is the last drop. Good to the last drop? Perhaps. I've never been that good at saying goodbye. But here goes.

The Saratoga Special is going to sleep.

In a way, thank all the gods in the world, now I can watch a race and not think about my lead or my take or my quotes. In another way, damn I can't believe the biggest project to date is over (at least until next year).

In another way, my brother Joe needs to get back to his family, Paul needs to get to the jewelry store, Susie needs to use her education, Frank needs to go work on Gary Stevens' book, Pete needs to go find the next Seabiscuit, Dave needs to clean his basement and Tod needs to get back to his real job editing a mainstream magazine.

The trouble with Saratoga is that it marks time. We have to wait another year for another go with the old girl.

We had one goal this meet: Create a good read. It was very simple why we started this paper, the greatest moments in horse racing would happen in the afternoon and by the next morning they were already being knocked around. We missed the old guys who wrote with verve and passion. This year's motto was, "Sleep in September." Next year's might be "Cynic's Beware."

Just this morning it happened again. Point Given retired on Friday and by Sunday morning he already had no shot for the Hall of Fame. Man, can't we celebrate the game for a moment? Can't we just think about how good he was when we last saw him? Why throw cold water on an already cold bath?

Saturday was our last day on the job. The day's events wrapped up the theme of our summer. Made it very simple and clear, right there for us to understand and to remember.

First we read about Point Given, then a book was placed on my desk and by the end we were leaning on a barn wall watching another good horse be a good horse.

The book is titled "Race Horses and Racing" by F. Gray Griswold, dated 1925. It had a bookmark set in place which led the reader to a passage called "A GOOD Sportsman."

It reads:
"A GOOD sportsman is a man who has developed his mind and body in the open air and who has good control over both, who has a keen eye, a level head, and a light hand. He is a man who is kind and considerate to all living things, who has good judgment, who can do no wrong nor suspect evil in others, who does not crow over his own success, and who has learned to accept defeat with a smiling countenance, yet does not accept it until the last breath has left his body."

I'd like to think we're an office of GOOD Sportsmen. Or at least live with that as a goal.

This year was to show you who we were, what we wanted to do, what kind of difference we wanted to make. We love the game, especially the game that's played in this town.

Writing about Saratoga is easy. We want to write about
the good stuff and there's no better place for good stuff than Saratoga.

Standing in the stakes barn, as a Saturday afternoon faded into a Saturday evening, while Came Home posed and played for all his new admirers, and horse racing lifers stood around just because they wanted to, was a good conclusion to a long but rewarding summer.

We know our approach is different than what you're probably used to. No controversy, no criticism, no negativity. But we figure you can get that somewhere else easy enough.

Over my shoulder in our makeshift office sits piles of the first 34 issues of The Saratoga Special. Maybe in that pile lies what turned it all around. It's a hell of an idea, anyway.

To all of you who said something positive, bought an ad, took care of a horse, slapped us on the back, answered our questions or gave us a buck for a copy-– thanks again. The game is good, the game is good.

Contact Sean Clancy via e-mail at sean@thesaratogaspecial.com or telephone at 518-581-1947.