Monday at Aqueduct, before the fifth race:
A journalism student, covering the Big A for a school assignment, looking bored and utterly uninterested in the goings-on below, asks a veteran turf writer: “So what are you writing about today?”
Turf Writer explains that he’s likely going to be focusing on out-of-town racing, given the stakes racing being run elsewhere.
Journalism Student is disappointed; such an approach will not help her complete her assignment. But she must be given credit for having the intrepid nature of a true reporter: undaunted, she forges on:
“But if you DID have to cover today’s races, and you’d only gotten two hours of sleep, what would you write about?”
Turf Writer, far more magnanimously than should be expected, flips through the program, and gives her Tour of the Cat, the eleven-year-old making his 77th start in the ninth race. Mission accomplished, off she goes.
I guess perhaps it was because she was sleep deprived, synapses not firing properly, powers of observation compromised, that it didn’t occur her to, oh, maybe actually watch a race and—call me crazy—glean an idea or two for a story.
I wonder if she watched the first race, in which favored Chit Chat Cat and Trillian hooked up in the stretch, with Trillian getting the bob.
I wonder if she paid attention to the sixth race, in which Griffen Avenue opened up a daylight lead and was nipped at the wire by a charging Navedano.
I wonder if she ended up watching the Tour of the Cat race, in which the veteran looked like he might notch the twenty-first victory of his career, and I wonder if she felt any disappointment when he got caught and had to settle for second place for the thirteenth time.
I wonder if, even for a moment, she stopped thinking about what a drag it was to be out in Ozone Park for an afternoon instead of home sleeping off a hangover, and I wonder if she contemplated watching a race with a little curiosity or interest, or standing in the paddock with an ear or an eye open to what was happening around her, or observing the action in the clubhouse.