Saratoga, 2011

Aug 17th 2011 09:55 pm |

My annual trip to Saratoga was a bit of a whirlwind this year. My buddy Chad and I could only make it for two days but we definitely made the most of it. In addition to two full days at the track we went to the Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Friday morning and the New York bred sales on Saturday night.

We upgraded our accommodations this year. The Super 8 in Glens Falls had its advantages over camping — although the list of these advantages is by no means extensive. Gene of Equispace and Buffalo News fame gave me the tip on the Super 8 after our first hotel choice was quite possibly the worst hotel in North America. The next time the person at the front desk offers a discount before I even see the room, I will know to run for the hills.

We packed a lot in a few days. Chad cashed a big ticket on Friday, and we both took advantage of the new Saratoga beer prices. I had my first run-in with a Shake Shack burger and have to say it tasted pretty darn good. As always, I saw some old friends and met some new ones. Our buddies Matt and Teresa of the original Gambling Tree Gang were a blast to hang out with in the Paddock Bar — the best place to be at the old Spa. While we heard many good stories over the weekend, Chad was thoroughly impressed by Mike MacAdam’s story about meeting Joe Strummer of the Clash — so thanks for that one, Mike.

As usual, a trip to the Lyrical Ballad bookstore left me a little lighter in the wallet. Lyrical Ballad is, hands down, the best bookstore for horse racing but I was a little disappointed when I saw how they were selling the collection (or at least part of the collection) of a prominent Thoroughbred photographer. The images were being sold individually at prices that ranged from $25 to $125 each. Sad that a collection such as this did not end up elsewhere instead of being broken up and sold as individual pieces. From my perspective as a researcher and historian, this collection is more valuable as a group and should be available in a public library or archive for all to enjoy. I certainly don’t blame Lyrical Ballad for making a buck, but I couldn’t help feeling a little sick as I thumbed through this important collection of images, knowing they would soon be scattered in many directions and hidden away in private spaces.

I’m taking the week off from the history research but will be back and better than ever next week. Here are a few pictures I took of my big Spa weekend:

My buddy Chad advises Bobby Flay before his keyonote address at the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies on Friday

Bobby Flay delivers the keynote address at the Humphrey S. Finney Sales Pavilion

The view from the Gambling Tree in the Paddock Bar

Patrice Merion, the daughter of English Channel, makes her way to the track under John Valesquez. She finished a respectable third against the boys in the first start of her career on Saturday.

The view from the winner's circle prior to the Sword Dancer.

Sword Dancer winner Winchester heads to the winner's circle.

The sales pavilion at the New York bred yearling sales on Saturday night

Thank for reading and good luck!

Filed in Saratoga,saratoga crowds,Saratoga grandstand,Saratoga Race Course,thoroughbred racing history



One Response to “Saratoga, 2011”

  1. Rick Davies says:

    Man am I jealous. Next to Keeneland, Saratoga seems to be the place to be when the meet is on! The wife and I play at Keeneland 4 times a year (we live in Louisville) and hope to visit Saratoga next summer for the first time. I’ve done well via TVG at Saratoga this year which is a first and it has only stoked the fire in the belly! Any tips for a 1st time visitor?