Chicken Salad

Shortly before Saratoga racing took its Tuesday Sabbatical, the town's preservationists gathered at the city library to hear what the locals wanted done when NYRA came into some money.  Public forums like this sprout up all over town; you just have to stay alert in order to spot them.

More trees, less concrete; a revival of the old paddock so that people can watch the horses saddled and less "do as you please" by the "powers to be" headed the preservationists' wish list. While some meeting attendees expressed dread over the carnival quality of the picnic grounds, there was general agreement that there'll be no turning back to a more sylvan, less bourgeois experience.

Saratoga's rank and file, as a matter of fact, was largely missing on Wednesday.  Attendance was below 11,000 for a second straight day and the backyard was empty in patches. Fingers are crossed for a better crowd Thursday and Friday - Midsummer St. Patrick's Day and College Day.  The track's heading into a heavy promotional period during which free tee-shirts, ball caps and umbrellas will be giveaways.  A white short-sleeved tee with Kelly green Saratoga logo and shamrocks will serve as the first incentive.

Saratoga presented another card of mostly mid-level claiming events.  Nevertheless, people who don't care how fast horses can run seemed oblivious.  The all-sources handle surpassed $10 million, proving management's point that, as far as business is concerned, a routine day of racing at Saratoga is better than a routine day of racing at Belmont.

In contrast to the dreariness of the afternoon's card, one of the most uplifting gatherings of the Saratoga season took place at noon.  Dogwood Stable's Dominion Award luncheon was held at the Reading Room.  Cot and Anne Campbell are always the ultimate hosts, making certain to make every guest welcome. This was no exception. There were about 100.

After a round of refreshments, some tunes by Reggie's Red Hot Feet Warmers and a proper lunch of chicken salad and sherbet, Cot Campbell introduced Barbi Moline as the 18th recipient of the industry's most-prized prize that honors the unsung hero. As intake director for Florida Thoroughbred Rehab and Placement, Moline saved 105 horses from slaughter last year. 

The honoree and Campbell looked like fashion plates holding the bronze equine sculpture that went with the $5000 check one gets for winning the award. .Moline wore a multi-colored dress of light, filmy fabric with rhinestones sprinkled across the bodice and ruffled skirt.  Campbell wore a blue seersucker jacket, gray trousers, argyle socks and tan and brown spectators - attire more elegant than anything experienced except for the brief speech he made. 

Later, Woodbine-based horses finished 1-2-3 in the Gr. 2 Lake George Stakes, a 1 1/16 miles test on the grass for 3-year-old fillies.  The Roger Attfield-trained Perfect Shirl overcame a case of chronic gate deficiency to key an exacta that paid $1012.00.  The day ended in defeat for all horsemen as they lost to the jockeys in basketball, 45-41.

Vic Zast is a columnist for  He has written the Saratoga Diary for in five of the last six years.


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