Tom Law and Sean Clancy had a running joke.
Ultimately, there was nothing funny about the Lexington, Ky.-based Thoroughbred Times, one of the leading racing trade publications in the country, going out of business on Sept. 15, putting 27 full-time workers, including Law, out of work.
The Saratoga Springs native had a fallback position that was conceptual, at best, with ST Publishing, the company known for the Saratoga Special, the popular free newspaper available at Saratoga Race Course five days a week during the meet.
Once the Thoroughbred Times went out of business, though, it took Clancy, the former steeplechase rider who runs ST Publishing with his brother, Joe, all of six days to contact Law with a job offer they had joked about for a long time.
Now, it’s a reality, and Law will be happy to return to his hometown this spring to set up a bureau for ST Publishing, giving the Elkton, Md.-based company a year-round foothold in Saratoga Springs.
“I started at the Thoroughbred Times in August 1998, I’ve been there for 14 years, so this is an opportunity to get back to Saratoga,” Law said. “It’s almost unbelievable. Not to say I was never going to come back, but the way my career was going, it was going to take me away from Saratoga.”
Law, who ran cross country for Art and Linda Kranick during the early years of their national-caliber program at Saratoga Springs High School, started as a reporter for The Saratogian and continued to handicap the Saratoga meet for the newspaper after leaving for the Thoroughbred Times.
In Lexington, he helped the Times stay in step with the ever-expanding world of on-line content, helped launch its digital daily newsletter and coordinated coverage of major events like the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup.
Law has won the Bill Leggett Breeders’ Cup Writing Award twice and the Red Smith Kentucky Derby Writing Award.
As managing editor of the Times, a position Law held for the last six years, he co-produced the “On the Scene” multimedia package that won an Eclipse Award for coverage of the 2011 Breeders’ Cup.
Thoroughbred Times owner Norman Ridker filed for bankruptcy this fall and shut down the biweekly magazine and its various satellite publications on Sept. 15, informing the employees by FedEx letter.
“I saw Sean at the Keeneland September Sale, and we joked about it again; six days later, we were out of business,” Law said. “He waited a few days, then texted me, and I said, ‘Really?’
“I always thought it would be a great thing to work for them and on the Saratoga Special, a product I’ve kind of followed over the years. I’m always on the lookout for how people cover things, and I’ve been a fan of Joe and Sean’s writing style.”
Besides the Saratoga Special, the award-winning ST Publishing’s products include the Steeplechase Times newspaper and the Thoroughbred Racing Calendar, and edits the monthly Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred magazine.
Their presence in Saratoga has been strictly seasonal since the Saratoga Special began in 2001, creating a mad scramble to set up an office and hire and train reporters each summer.
With Law in town, ST Publishing will be able to get through this process more smoothly and efficiently, as well as have someone who can cultivate advertising clients on a regular basis and provide content.
“Because of his connection to Saratoga, Tom and I have talked about his involvement in our efforts there for a long time,” Sean Clancy said in an ST release. “He brings a lot to the table, and we are excited about the possibilities.”
“I’m going to do a little bit of
everything, writing and editing,” Law said. “I think using my contacts on a national scale could be an asset. I’ve been out of the loop for three months, but it was a good opportunity to see what’s out there and what fans want.”
SANFORD HOLIDAY PARTY
Sanford Stud Farm in Amsterdam will host a Hurricana Holiday benefit party from 6-10 p.m. next Saturday at Saratoga Raceway and Casino.
For $35, the party includes a prime rib buffet with a variety of hot entrees and seafood.
Attendees will receive a $10 Free Play voucher and a racing program upon joining the raceway’s free Players Extra Club.
There will be a special trophy presentation in the winner’s circle following a Sanford Stud Farm designated race on the card.
The outstanding sire Pulpit died in his paddock at Claiborne Farm on Thursday.
He went to stud after finishing fourth in the 1997 Kentucky Derby.
Pulpit sired 63 stakes winners, including 11 North American Grade I winners. Among them are Power Broker, Corinthian, Ice Box, Pyro, Sky Mesa, Stroll, Purge and Tapit.
Notacatbutallama will make his dirt debut for owner Mike Repole and trainer Todd Pletcher in the $80,000 one-mile Damon Runyon for 2-year-olds at Aqueduct on Sunday.
He broke his maiden by 61⁄2 lengths on the turf in his second start at Saratoga before finishing fourth to the Chad Brown-trained Balance the Books in the Grade II With Anticipation.
Notacatbutallama was second to another Chad Brown horse, Noble Tune, in the Grade III Pilgrim, then won two straight stakes, the Incurable Optimist at Belmont Park and the Super Mario at Aqueduct.
“He’s worked better on the turf, but this time of year, you want to figure out if they can transfer their form to dirt,” Pletcher assistant Whit Beckman told the New York Racing Association. “It’s an experiment to see if he can run on dirt. If he runs credibly enough, he can have a nice winter campaign. Maybe we’ll look at the Gotham and some of the other [Kentucky Derby] preps down the road.”
There will be a comparable stakes for juvenile fillies on the card, the East View.
Kelli Got Frosty is the 1-2 morning-line favorite off a New York Stallion Series win at Aqueduct on Nov. 11.
MORE WEEKEND STAKES
San Pablo is also a heavy favorite at Aqueduct this weekend, at 3-5 in today’s Queens County at nine furlongs.
He finished up the track in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, but otherwise has three wins by a combined 11 lengths in his last four starts for Pletcher and Burning Sands Stable, most recently the Swatara at Penn National.
San Pablo won the Birdstone at Saratoga by three lengths over Isn’t He Perfect, then beat Toby’s Corner in the Grade III Philip Iselin at Monmouth.
Juvenile fillies will take the spotlight at Hollywood Park in the Grade I Hollywood Starlet, where Executiveprivilege could still stake a claim for an Eclipse Award with a win.
Except for a second by a length to Beholder in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, the Bob Baffert-trained daughter of First Samurai is undefeated, including Grade I wins in the Del Mar Debutante and Chandelier at Santa Anita.
Also on the Hollywood Park card, Inglorious is the 5-2 favorite in the Grade II Bayakoa.
The Woodbine-based filly skipped a chance to win the 2011 Canadian Triple Crown to run in the Alabama, and was sixth.
HERE AND THERE
Jockey Calvin Borel needs two winners to reach 5,000 for his career. . . .
Kid Kate, a multiple stakes winner for Dell Rodge Farm and Brown, apparently hasn't been retired, after all. Last Saturday's Garland of Roses at Aqueduct, in which she finished second, was supposed to be her final start, but she's entered in the Jameela at Aqueduct on Wednesday. . . .
Cinnamon Beach ($17.20) surged through an opening on the rail and pulled away for a 41⁄4-length victory
over Washington’s Rules on Friday in the $69,000 allowance feature at Aqueduct.
A 5-year-old trained by Phillip Scott, Cinnamon Beach snapped a 10-race losing streak with his third win in 24 starts. Irad Ortiz, Jr. was aboard for the 11⁄8 miles in 1:51.81. . . .
Freud, New York’s leading sire by graded-stakes winners and turf earnings in 2012, will stand in 2013 for the same $10,000 stud fee as he did in 2012.
Among his top earners this year were Hessonite, who won the Irish Linnet and Yaddo at Saratoga and the John Hettinger and Ticonderoga at Belmont, and Lubash, who won the West Point at Saratoga and the Ashley T. Cole at Belmont.
He stands at Sequel Stallions New York near Hudson.
Online voting is now open for the third annual Secretariat Vox Populi Award.
Created by Secretariat’s owner Penny Chenery, the Vox Populi, or “Voice of the People,” Award recognizes the racehorse whose popularity and racing excellence best resounded with the public and gained recognition for the sport during the past year.
This year’s nominees initially were Frankel, I’ll Have Another, Royal Delta, Shanghai Bobby and Wise Dan, but, fittingly, an impromptu wave of public support led to the addition of Shackleford and Paynter as candidates, too.
“This year’s contest will be especially interesting because our committee and our fans will be choosing our winner from such a variety of contenders, each with a unique background and career path,” Chenery said in a release. “Recognizing excellence in performance and individual contribution to racing ideally transcends our differences and unites us in the goal of furthering the sport.”
The winner will be selected on the equally weighted basis of the public online poll; consensus from the Vox Populi Committee; and input from Chenery. Voting in the online poll, which can be found at Secretariat.com, ends Sunday, Dec. 23, with the award presentation to the 2012 winner scheduled for Dec. 29 at Santa Anita Park.