As the days keep clicking by I’m trying to make them go slowly to savor the “normal” that will soon be just a shadow…I find myself taking pictures of ordinary things which I know won’t be ordinary come Tuesday. See above!
I’m continuing with my 15 day photo countdown on instagram, #mavenandmagpie, feel free to follow along. But meanwhile, I just had to try to capture a moment that suddenly struck me yesterday (Monday) when I realized that I’d actually made some real progress on one of my priority projects for the summer. Admittedly, it now feels weird and awkward to share this, kind of embarrassing to pat myself on the back for what is certainly – at best – a small step in a long journey. But anyway, I’m sticking to the “celebrate the small wins” approach to this process – the building of a new life, the building of a new network, the figuring out of how to make the most of the crazy summer season at Saratoga.
So, the sandwich.
Yesterday at approximately 7:45am, I was invited to partake in a sandwich (ham or turkey) or a piece of pizza by Mr. Dale Romans and his wife Tammy. Doing my best to read the situation and the moment properly, I opted to accept – and then to just “hang out” eating half of a turkey sandwich from Spring Street Deli (and yes, this was before I’d yet had my coffee for the day). It was a big moment. Welcome to my surreal life!
Uh, what’s up with the sandwich?
Well, in brief, this simple invitation by Mr. Romans (wikipedia link) was a small symbol that my “horsemen’s outreach campaign” was making an impact – I am slowly making myself known to (to at least a few people) in a big, complex, and highly insular community. My strategy for the horsemen of the Saratoga meet has been a slow, but steady program (aka “charm offensive”) by which I’ve been delivering hand-written personal notes of congratulations to the trainer of each stakes-winning horse at the meet. On most days there is one stakes race, on Saturdays sometimes two or three, and on this past Friday and Saturday.. a bunch each day! This is the objective of my morning excursions to the backstretch: finding my way around to all the barns, observing and learning along the way, meeting folks when possible, and then delivering my notes – often just dropping in the trainers’ offices, but sometimes hand-delivering with a quick hello. I’ll share a copy of one of the notes in a photo with this post… I’ve used a pretty consistent message all summer, but this week I’m changing it up a bit. As I told my friend Matt, the notes give me the “purpose and structure” that I so appreciate and need to keep my energy heading in a useful direction.
So, the Romans.
The sandwich invite was approximately the 6th time I’d encountered the Romans over the course of the summer. At this rate I will have mastered the Saratoga trainer community in 25 years…
- First, met with Terry Finley of West Point Thorougbreds on the golf cart (more of an almost-met)
- Second, delivered note for the first win of Promises Fulfilled in the Amsterdam stakes in late July.
- Third, at the Select Sales with my wing-man Bill Clark, we sat with the Romans for quite a while (and they offered me food then too, but it was not the right moment to partake) – told my stories of Pennells and Kenny Chesney concert.
- Fourth, I delivered a note about how much I’d enjoyed meeting them at the Sales
- Fifth, said hello while Eric Guillot was holding court near Seth Merrow’s tent – Dale saved the day.
- And then, Monday – when I went to deliver another note of congratulations, the invite and the sandwich!
Anyhow, it was a small thing – but it felt good. They were thoughtful hosts, kindly asking me about where I lived in town, intrigued to hear we had just moved here, and asking about Bobby too. I chatted a minute with their son, who I recall handicapping as a kid – he is now a jockey’s agent. I tried not to linger, but I also enjoyed the brief chat – and if I can find a way to do so , I’ll go back to snap a photo of the view from the Romans’ barn.
And then, it got better!
Just to close out what was a good day on all counts, I left my peeps in the backyard to make a quick excursion to the paddock for the feature on Monday. While I’ve been growing a bit weary of the stalker-nature of my job in the afternoon (missing the rationale of my morning “purpose and structure”), wherein I go to the paddock very often with the express goal of saying hello to various people, usually owners – and/or just being “present and visible” so that these folks I want to meet will be familiar with me before I call on them as donors. It’s another long game, and the progress I’m making in the afternoon is much, much harder to measure than my progress in the AM. However, on Monday I had a nice exchange with one of my board members, then as I walked out, one of the trainers I’ve been pursuing came up to talk with me as we walked out of the paddock and a partner from one of the ownership groups decided I was “somebody” enough to chat with me as we walked out. Then, when I opted to go back for one more paddock visit before heading home, I had a nice exchange with Jack Knowlton of Sackatoga Stables (wikipedia link) and then Rudy Rodriguez sought me out to give a kiss on the cheek (thank you Brimstone and Libby Imperio), and I even had a rush of confidence enough to just walk up to a couple who have been long time donors just to say thank you and introduce myself. Lots of little “sandwiches”… and many more to pursue.
OK, turning into a pumpkin – hoping to get a few photos loaded before I crash.
Bon soir mes amis!