On hot, sunny Saratoga
Sundays, it's easier to get a seat in the Clubhouse than a lounge chair at the
Victoria Pool. Saratoga Spa
State Park is one of the treasures
of the region and the pool, Olympic in size and grand in providing visitors the
feelings of luxury and history, gets jam-packed before 9 am. They say Bing Crosby and Sophie Tucker used
to sunbathe there and, in more recent years, Cyndi Lauper and Liza
Minnelli. But today the person that
causes the most curiosity is a man in a two-piece bikini.
In addition to the Victoria Pool, the park hosts the
Peerless Pool, the Roosevelt Baths, the
Gideon Putnam hotel, a small opera house, 27 holes of golf, the Hall of Springs
restaurant, an automobile museum (which
this weekend featured Airstreams) and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, or
SPAC as everyone seems to call it. Parking
lots opened at 4:30 am to accommodate early arrivers for the Phish concert at
SPAC. There's no truth to the rumor that
Catherine's on the Park, the restaurant and bar that adjoins the pool and the
golf course, will be serving mushroom specials.
Despite the competition from these diversions, the racetrack
was packed again.
It was free tee-shirt day and the lines of spinners began
forming well before the racetrack opened officially. Giveaways boost attendance about 30,000
people - at least that's the count which results from the turnstiles. This year's shirt, a dandy gray one that
featured the trademark Saratoga
logo in black type with red accents, is more than useful. It's fly.
Good weather continues to bless NYRA. But anyone who believes Mother Nature has
provided the sole reason for attendance increases is short-changing the job
track officials have done. In particular, the promotions department continues
to crank out promotions that are imaginative and broadly-appealing. The communications staff is turning out news
releases faster than they can be read, causing an army of visiting press to
report on even the most inane developments. Above all, however, the racing has
Sunday, however, the card was atypical. Cheap claimers, state-breds and maidens
offering marginal promise constituted many of the races. The 4-5 favorite
Banrock won the feature - the $100,000 West Point Handicap for New York-foaled
horses. Like the day before, it was hard
to hit exactas and trifectas despite the chalk.
Fourteen to one, 23-1 and 16-1 longshots, led by Pennington, finished
second, third and fourth.
There were a few other races to get the blood pumping. One Note Samba looked good in breaking his
maiden in the sixth for Todd Pletcher and Anstu Stables. Seattle Mission won at first asking for
Barclay Tagg and Sackatoga in the seventh.
Two highly-regarded runners from Zayat Stables, B Z Warrior and J Z
Warrior, failed to triumph in their races - not a good outcome for a Zast with
a daughter named Biz and a son named Jon.