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Withdrawal

Posted by Avram Freedberg

Monday, Labor Day, seemed, as Rhoda put it, like the last day of camp. I remember crying when I came home from my first overnight camp experience. Camp was over. There was no way of recreating the emotions… the feelings of fun and, especially, camaraderie.

So it was with our visit to Saratoga Springs. Our home for two weeks had been David Cassidy’s home once but now it belonged to Liz. It held strong emotions for us too when we found out that Liz was a 9/11 widow, now remarried with a second son to join the one left behind. Only months before the tragedy, they had returned from an overseas assignment for Cantor Fitzgerald. There was a still a poignant photo on the wall of father and several month old son in his office at the World Trade Center, overlooking the New York City skyline. When Liz showed us around, I worried about some crystal (I’m a bull in a China shop). She said, “It’s just stuff.” She knew what was important. This month my company, NCM, will reach the $2,000,000 mark in donations to 9/11 related charities. I guess you can see why this happenstance hit home.

On the bright side, we were very lucky. First, to see Ahvee’s Destiny win a stakes race the day after our arrival and to experience it with good friends by our side. But, in many ways, our fun and camaraderie were just beginning.

Every day we saw our horses. Sometimes we saw them training on the track but every day we saw them in their stalls. We tried to snuggle with them and fed them carrots. We don’t know if they bonded with us (they definitely bonded with the carrots) but we bonded with them. Each unique looking. Each had their own personality (or should that be horse-ality).

Then there were the “horse-friends” we made. Most coming to the stable or training track each morning. Some with their kids, nieces, grandkids and the like. All of them regaled by the beauty and majesty of all thoroughbred race horses and theirs in particular. We got to know them day by day and sometimes night by night, when we broke bread together. Of course, sharing the darkness before dawn and the experiencing the bits of light as the sun slowly rose over the misty clouds that gathered at ground level of the giant park known as Saratoga Race Course was particularly special.

We miss running to see our four-legged kids each day. We imagine Arielle’s Song’s big lips straining to get those carrots or Ahvee’s Destiny’s gentle way of eating from our hands (it reminded us of our beloved Cricket, the gentle dog after whom the stable is named Everything’s Cricket Racing). It’s easy to convey the excitement of winning a big race (especially at 9 – 1) and all the fun that goes with it. It’s much harder to convey the complex feelings engendered by those dear animals and those dear people.

Yes, there are many thing to do in Saratoga Springs. I guess it would be a nice vacation spot, even if you weren’t involved in horses in some way. Yet, it is this different culture (someone called it a “sub-culture” but that seems almost pejorative) that makes the experience so different and so deep. We miss you, horsies!

Now Ahvee’s Destiny and Arielle’s Song are still in Saratoga. Ahvee waits for her September 27th

race in Philly, if the weather goes our way. Arielle’s Song is getting her leg iced every day before going to Florida to rest her leg or to New Jersey for additional treatment. Rexy is at Belmont and will eventually be entered in a Maiden-claiming race and the other three are all in Florida; Conseated Lady recuperating from a “meat cleaver” fracture with hand walking and resting (turn-out) and the yearlings starting to be trained for their two-year old season.

I hope you get to experience your own special time like the special time that Saratoga Springs was for us in August 2008.


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