A Cup of Coffee--August 30, 2001

By Sean Clancy
From The Saratoga Special, reprinted with permission

It's happening.

Stalls are being stripped. Stable plaques are coming off the walls. Halters are being wrapped. Horse vans are lining up at the chutes. Beresford Gallery's bubble wrapping the paintings. Box seats are becoming available. The prices are nearly back to normal. And you can start to feel a chill in the air.

Saratoga's about to be the September place not to be.

That's the one sad thing about the Travers, it marks the beginning of the end. Time for the September Sales in Kentucky. Time for the kids to go back to school. And the horses to go back to the city.

Time to go home. Here's a survival guide to disembarking Saratoga:

--Just Get Out. Pack up your car and go home with whatever money you have left. Forget the "Getting-Out" horse. He doesn't exist. It's a natural thought--gang up on some sure thing to make up for all the losses and go home a winner. Better be careful, many a rich man has gone broke by trying to outsmart himself for being stupid.

--Ticket Please. Go past the dry cleaners. Just do one last drive-thru at the cleaners for clothes you forgot. I'm sure there's a family wearing shirts I left in haste over the years.

--That's My Money. Once you're over the city limits. you have no shot of getting your security deposit back. Arrange a meeting with your landlord for the last day, do a walk through and get your money back. You've already sent the family to Paris, no sense buying the wine too. If cousin Hank wrecked the place on his weekend visit, sneak out in the middle of the night.

--Memories Are Made Of These. Buy a souvenir or find a souvenir. Scoop up some dirt from the track...buy a Rich Gabriel original...frame the first Saratoga Special...get Paul Toscano's autograph...just get something to remember Saratoga 2001. Sure, that Saratoga pennant won't make up for you being gone for six weeks but you can at least wave it in desperation.

--Don't cry. Sure, Saratoga marks the passage of time just like Christmas or a birthday but don't fall apart over it. You'll be back next year. And remember: Everybody had high expectations for the meet.

--One More Time. Stop by your favorite haunts one more time before you hit the thru-way. Whether it's the Museum, the races, the park, or the bar, just do it one last time for the trip. It'll be another year before you get to do it again.

--Think Of Something. When you get home, be careful of what you say. If you say you had too much fun, the ones left behind will hate you even more. If you say it was miserable, they might not let you go next year.

--Home Is Where It's Boring. Believe me. when you get home, life's going to look as dull as a four horse field with a 2-5 shot. You'll ask everyone, "sSo what's new? What happened since I was gone?" And they won't have anything for you. In a few days you'll slip back to the humdrum and not feel out of place but be careful for the first few days.

--Save One. If you can possibly save one pay check and deposit it in your bank at home you'll feel like you accomplished something at the Spa. Now this won't be easy, pay day's Friday and closing day's Monday, but give it a shot, you'll feel like you didn't just drink away six weeks worth of work.

--Handle With Care. When you pack your car, assess the situation. Carry all your possessions to the driveway and think about the best plan. Nothing worse than having the map in the trunk or the toll money under the kid's car seat. Watch what could sail over your head on a sharp stop.

--Be Grateful. No matter the results, you were at the Spa. I get letters every day from people in Minnesota, Montana, all over the world wishing for one brief moment at Saratoga. You were lucky enough to be here. Many people weren't.

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