A Cup of Coffee--August 4, 2001

By Sean Clancy
From The Saratoga Special, reprinted with permission

So you want to be a trainer.
You read the Form. You walked hots on summer vacation. You're good with animals. If that guy can do it, anybody can.

Before you sell the family business, stop by a tack room. And remember – this is Saratoga: good horses, with prominent owners, ridden by talented jockeys, running at the best racetrack.

Just go by right after training hours, around 10 or so. Sweep the hay off a directors chair, sit under a hay net, next to the best horse in the barn, watch what goes on. And then realize that writing about horses is a hell of a lot easier than training them. Betting on horses is easier than training them. And training the other guy's horse is easiest of all. Especially on Fridays. Payroll day. Just listen.

Exercise rider leans in.
"The guy over here wants to borrow some salt."
"He what?"
"The guy next to you, that guy, needs some salt. He's all out. He said he'd
give it back to you."
"Give it back to me. Yeah. OK, whatever."
Cable guys show up.
"We're here to hook up your cable."
"Well, there's the TV."
"Do you know where the wires come in?"
"I don't know guys, you're going to have to figure that out."
Assistant trainer comes in.
"We need to get to the stakes barn."
"What about the blanket, do we have a blanket for him?"
"I'm going to the stakes barn, somebody needs to see the horse."
"What about tomorrow's set list?"
Phone Rings
"I got two phones and it's not enough."
"Hello Sir. That filly who was supposed to ship today. She has a temperature."
"Well, she can't ship."
"That's how horses get pneumonia."
Tack man delivers.
"Here's the green polos."
"What are you doing with green polos?"
"For the pony. He's got a green bridle, green saddle towel and red polos.."
"Oh, can't have that."
Phone rings.
"We need him right away to do the surgery."
"We need to pay for his flight."
"I don't know why, that's the way he does it."
"I sure hope she'll be OK."
One degenerate gambler hanger onner lurks.
"You got a shot today?"
"I don't even know which one I'm running yet."
"One's main track only, one's turf."
"We gotta' treat both of em."
Phone rings.
"You need how many passes?"
"Whose name?"
"Well, I'll try."
"You didn't give me much time."
Groom missions through.
"More viendas."
"More bandages?"
"More viendas."
"How can we need more bandages?"
"Horse we claim, not come with viendas."
Owner comes to talk business.
"How's Silver?
"Fine. She galloped today."
"How far?"
"Mile and a half."
"How'd she go?"
"Have you picked out a race?"
"The new book's not out yet."
"Well, when . . ."
"Any day sir, any day."
Phone rings.
"Lunch. What time?"
"OK, I gotta' get out of here."
"I should be there by then."
"I'm leaving right now."
Vet stops by to check the first runner...reporter comes for a quote...groom comes in to say he quit...cable guys start drilling...owner of the sick horse stops by...secretary's office wants to know if you have an a other than for Sunday...can't find your dog . . . so you want to be a trainer.

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