Friday, August 12, 2011

There Is Nothing Like Saratoga

I began coming to Saratoga in the 80’s with two of my best racetrack buddies. Every year we spent three days at the Spa soaking up the atmosphere of the greatest racetrack in the country. That was back in the day when Saratoga was really the “August Place To Be”.

The magic of Saratoga is the traditions: the traditions of the racetrack itself and the traditions that we all develop when we come here. For our trio it always began with a visit to the Big Red Spring. Upon entering the track for breakfast Ted required that we rinse our hands, splash some of the mineral waters on our faces, and take a drink. I still follow that tradition to honor the memory of my friend.

I spent this morning in the stable area of Saratoga’s Oklahoma training track, which was the original racetrack from 1863 to 1909. There you can see horses working out on the dirt and turf courses. The countries greatest trainers can be spotted watching their runners and chatting with their neatly dressed owners. Each barn reflects the personality of the trainer: some are neat and tidy, some are detailed with flowers, and some are just about the horses. Stabled there are top three year olds and older horses and very expensive well-bred two year olds. (Above left pictured is Uncle Mo in his stall at the Todd Pletcher barn.)

Trainers Bob Baffert (center) and Christophe Clement (right) were chatting with owners and Bill Mott was up on his stable pony while his horses worked.

This week was the Fasig Tipton yearling sale. There were million dollar yearlings. Sheikh Mohammed was present and spent over $8,000,000. The rich and famous were everywhere to be seen. The yard behind the sale pavillion was an enormous party. The bar was mobbed, old friends were meeting up, and yearlings were getting ready to be sold. (Photo left: Mike Repole chats with Bo Derek. Photo right: A Street Cry colt sold for $625,000 to the Sheihk)

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