The Inside Rail

Living the Dream

I thought he won. I was almost confident, well, as confident as you can be in a photo finish. Live, I thought City Dreamer had gotten there, nailing horses to his inside in the final strides of the Marcellus Frost Stakes at the Iroquois Steeplechase Saturday. I didn’t know who the inside horses were, didn’t care, I just thought Sean McDermott had galvanized City Dreamer on the far outside and delivered him on the line. Timing. Timing is everything. It looked like perfect timing.

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The Penalty Box

“I’m in the penalty box.”

That’s how a friend of mine describes when his stable goes in a slump.

The first time he said it, I said, “What?”

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Silence is Good

It’s been a week. No phone calls. Which is good news. As an owner, you know phone calls only bring bad news. Like waiting for the draft.

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Ben Bradlee has nothing on Tim Keefe.

“I looked Friday night, Saturday, looked Sunday, looked Monday,” Keefe said. “I said to myself, ‘Sean’s not going to write about this? I can’t believe it. Of all the things he’s written about…he’s not going to write about this?”


Here goes.

Valdez lost jockey Wayne Hutchinson at the third fence in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham Friday.

There, I wrote it.

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Counting the Days

There it is in cold, hard print next to Valdez’s name. 1204. Yeah, 1204 days since his last run. We knew it had been a while, since that fateful day at Chepstow, two, three, four years ago…yeah, the day he fell, slid, strained, the day the house of cards came down.

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Open the Door

Miles and I stayed up late to watch Front Door at Turfway Park Friday night. Miles, more interested in Shakespeare, presidents, John Prine, Percy Jackson, baseball, anything than horse racing but he’s a team player. Once I explained the naming process, that Front Door’s dad is Point Of Entry, that helped Miles’ interest. When Front Door found a stalking spot outside in fourth, Mark Grier’s gold silks breaking the Turfway park winter gray, that helped. Then when Front Door put his head in front, then his neck, well, that really helped.

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Night Check

This is one of my favorites, written several winters ago.

Night check. Every night, after dinner, we trek to the barn. Some days, it's comforting, almost therapeutic, a stroll, past the apple tree on the left, winding between the fence rows of the front field and back field, along the stone driveway, down the incline to the bank barn built in 1890. Tonight, it's anything but comforting, the wind whips like it's finishing a grudge, my nose instantly drips, on command. I don't dare check a thermometer. I pull my wool hat down, over my ears, and zip my down jacket to my chin. A stray cat, well, once-a-stray cat meows - more like a screech - from his makeshift bed next to the door. I walk head-on into the wind, the sky is bright for this time of night, one lone light shines from across two cow fields, I wonder if our neighbor is doing night check too.

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Sean Clancy

P.O. Box 1832
Middleburg, VA   20118
(c) 302.545.7713
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