Even better than a snow day

You’d think that getting a snow day on Thursday could be about the best news that a turf-writing teacher could get…and for much of the day it was. I slept a little later, I got caught up with my grading, I hung out with the cats…the dreamy stuff of which snow days are made.

But in the afternoon I received an e-mail that trumped even the giddiness of an unexpected day off. Brien Bouyea, communications officer of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, wrote to tell me that my name had been added to the panel of voters that vote for Hall of Fame inductees.

The news was incredibly humbling for a number of reasons. As a student of racing history, I all too often lose myself in archives and records, absorbed in and engrossed by the people and the horses who have created the sport’s history in this country over the last several hundred years. As a Saratoga native, I take pride in and love unreasoningly the track that’s existed since 1863 and is, as far as I can tell, the oldest sporting venue in the country, the track at which so many unforgettable moments have taken place.  The opportunity to play some small role in that history is a privilege that I couldn’t ever have expected to have.

But this honor is meaningful to me in ways that aren’t quite so obvious. My mother worked at the Museum from 1980 to 1988, serving briefly as its director. She told me last night that when she started working there, “We all did everything,” from working in the gift shop to helping with the mail. Elaine Mann was then the director of the Museum, and through the eight years of her employment, my mother took on various roles and responsibilities, departing right around the time the Museum completed a major renovation. For much of my growing up, the Museum was an extension of my home, the people who worked there as familiar as my neighbors. My mother’s work at the Museum led to my brother’s and my first jobs in racing, at the Fasig-Tipton sales.

The tangible, physical space devoted to racing’s history, the Hall of Fame within the Museum, awes me every time I step into it. I see the silks and the plaques, the names and the dates and the accomplishments, and I am gone, gone back decades, even centuries, lost in the recognition of those who shaped the game and made it great.

I am supposed to shortly receive the first set of materials for this year’s voting. I will, I imagine, have a steep learning curve ahead of me; this teacher is about to become a pretty serious student. But what a fun assignment it’s going to be, what absorbing material to study. For this homework, I can’t wait.

16 thoughts on “Even better than a snow day

  1. Congrats!! You’ll add a lot to the process with your dedication to doing the right thing and attention to the details of preserving racing’s history. Nicely done and well deserved!

  2. Congrats! While not a big fan of Hall’s of Fame, you are a deserved voice. I go to the Museum every year and enjoy it immensely. Well done!

  3. What a splendid development ! Congratulations ! Both the Hall of Fame & Brooklyn Backstretch have been enhanced by this development.

  4. I love reading your blog because you have a passion for the beauty of racing that goes way beyond betting windows. Just the type of person who should be involved in the Hall of Fame selection! Congrats- I am thrilled for you! 🙂

  5. Congratulations to you, Teresa! Does the museum recognize horses who might not have had HOF racing careers, but became outstanding sires like Mr. Prospector, Danzig, Storm Cat, Hoist The Flag, etc? (I’ve never been there.)

  6. That definitely is an honor, especially for someone like you who truly cares about the history of the sport as well as someone who actually grew up there (though I think you were glad NOT to be up there earlier this past week when it actually dropped to an amazing 22 degrees BELOW ZERO, with Glens Falls actually colder at -27!).

    I suspect you will handle the responsibility that comes with this very well.

  7. Teresa,
    Adding my note of congratulations. Well deserved.
    It’s a joy to read your blog and watch your success and recognition for your writing.
    Cheers.

  8. Been away from the web a few days..what a pleasant surprise to hear this good news. I cannot think of another person who writes about the history of racing as well as you do.

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