A Cup of Coffee--August 13, 2001

By Sean Clancy
From The Saratoga Special, reprinted with permission

What? What was that? Did I really hear it? Nah? No way.

The meet's half over? I swear that's what I heard John Imbriale say Sunday evening as I walked out of the race track.

Half over. Half still to go. I never did figure out if the cup is half empty or half full. Mine just looks spilled most of the time. At least this meet.

I'll warn you now, today's cup of coffee is a little weak. Made from tap water through old valves and poured into a cracked pot (no comments on cracked pot, please). Cream's a little curdled. About luke warm. You know, three in the morning coffee from a gas station just off the highway. The kind of place you wouldn't eat anything not vacuum packed, you'd go to the bathroom in the bushes instead of asking for the key to the outside bathroom, but you still mix the black mud and drink it like you like it. That's about the way this column feels at the moment. Not depressed, just wiped out.

But you have to figure, a good horse trainer only wins with about 20 percent of his runners. Jockeys, the same. Most horses probably retire with a worse percentage than that. Gamblers, hell, that's why they have racetracks. So, I'm just filling a race here. The secretary's office called and asked if I had a horse for older boys going long. I said what the hell, put Badcoffeeatthehalf in and make that race on Wednesday go for Adayoff. He ought to run well freshened up.

Tomorrow's Monday. The world wishes for Fridays. Not here in this office.


That means the next day is Tuesday and thank the NYRA gods they don't race on Tuesday. We're hitting the lake. Or at least the bar. OK, the bed. The "do not disturb" sign's going up and we're going to sleep.
Now get that thing percolating for Wednesday because I have a whole laundry list to hit for the next three weeks.

What about these outriders in the morning? I've seen them make Willie Mays catches all summer. One after another, I can't imagine. NYRA get them a raise and trainers give them a hug. No pay or praise is enough for what they provide.

Trash. What about the trash on the backside in the morning? Looks like the morning after a Grateful Dead show (minus the roaches).


Social life. I was asked today about where all the social stuff is in the paper. We had grand visions of being the Village Voice of Saratoga; providing concert reports, restaurant reviews, personals. We're working on it, is about all I can say. The wild thing about this paper is we're proud of the product and know damn well we're only getting about a tenth of what we want done.

What we forget. I spend every morning on the backside with the racetrack lifers. They're a noble set for all intents and purposes but then you meet someone who lives for what they have everyday. Tod Marks, photographer and friend of The Saratoga Special. This year, he's psyched because he's going to manage to be here 26 of the 36 racing days. He's got a real job, this is his hobby. He's provided great photos for the paper and even better advice and motivation. Next time you're looking past that sunrise, think of Tod Marks who would crawl from Tuckahoe to Saratoga for one glimpse of what you might be missing.

OK, that's the bottom of this cup of coffee. Sorry it wasn't Uncommon Grounds House Blend with the Sunday New York Times on a brisk morning without a care in the world. There's always Wednesday's.

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