A Cup of Coffee--August 29, 2001

By Sean Clancy
From The Saratoga Special, reprinted with permission

So I went back to bed. Sundays are made for sleeping.I managed to get up at 5:00 on Sunday morning and have the paper delivered by 6:00. I was back in bed by 6:10. I woke up at 4:00 in the afternoon. It was amazing.

So I missed all the races. It was only the Ballerina. Yeah, so what? Five horses with a 1-2 shot. I've seen Point Given, Flute, Jump Start, City Zip...all the stars. Who needs Dream Supreme, Country Hideaway, Imadeed, Spain and Shine Again? Right? Wrong.

Just when Bill Mott was meant to win another stakes at the meet, Allen Jerkens pulls the old table cloth trick and wins the race with Shine Again.

I've watched the bay filly train every day at 7:15. Jean Luc Samyn, the pony and the light shadow roll. I've listened to Samyn's agent Ralph Theroux tell me she's doing great, day after day. Did I listen? No I slept. She paid double digits and Jerkens had another Saratoga moment. Even the cynics smiled for a moment.

Maybe I'll catch it the next time. Damn sleep. I stayed home and watched it on ESPN. Didn't need to put a coat and tie on, heck, didn't even need to shower.

My brother Joe did the reporting and I'm sure he did a fine job but I missed it.

They call him The Chief. That has to say it all. Jerkens is one of the few links left. He can tell you about the old days because he lived them. He's seen it all.

Everybody has a Jerkens story. Richard Migliore has one. Chuck Simon has one. P.G. Johnson has one. Most involve a good horse, a bad horse, and Jerkens crying. I've been trying to interview the Chief for three years. I might have been intimidated by Bobby Frankel. I'm in awe of Allen Jerkens.

And watching Jack Whitaker try to take on the Chief in the interview after the races resonated my fears. The art of one word answers. That's the one good thing about writing, you can always come up with a different angle if the interview doesn't go well.

Jerkens seemed liked he would have rather been anywhere in the world than on that television. Back at the barn with a beer and a horse would have been choice number one, I'd say.

See, there are those old days we were talking about. When a horse trainer was a horse trainer because he could train a horse not because he could talk a good game. When the trainer might call an owner when his horse won. And only might.

What do I know? I can tell you what my father told me, that's about all.

Not that these days are bad but they're not like they were. Or at least that's what every old-timer tells you. Who knows why? All I know is Jerkens won the Ballerina to add to a list of laurels longer than words in this paper.

You know the names –- Onion, Prove Out, Beau Purple, Sky Beauty, Kelly Kip.

I want to know the stories. I'll try to go over there at feeding time and see if I can make up for missing the Ballerina.

Be sure of one thing, I'm not missing any more races.

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