Making An Imprint

It's the first summer for setting up shop at the racecourse for an art gallery with haberdashery for sale called Sorelle Gallery.  But the high cost of rent doesn't jive with the low flow of sales and it's doubtful that the owner will conclude that the pop-up boutique in a tent should return.

Nevertheless, women in search of a fancy hat to buy for the Travers Celebration would be ill advised to look elsewhere and anyone with an eye for the artistic should come by to see Jim Dieso's imaginative originals.  Dieso, an artist from Oneida, NY in the Finger Lakes region, has perfected a technique he calls "imprints."  The imprints are terrific.

One of the most frequently asked questions of Saratoga regulars is where has Jan Rushton gone?  The popular track handicapper was known for wearing elaborate toppers and giving tips on which horse to bet from the paddock.  Dieso's "Jan's Back" places Rushton in a red dress and hat at the scene where her fans got to know her.

"Frankel and Friend" immortalizes the Hall of Fame trainer, Bobby Frankel, at ease on a wooden bench with a border collie.  "The Way Up" depicts Saratoga's white-painted iron-railed staircases and signature red-striped awnings. But the absolute best is named "First Winner First" of jockey Calvin Borel with a girl in her First Communion dress on the first day of the Churchill Downs meet after winning the first race.

Seven of nine Monday races were run with claiming conditions. Short bursts of heavy rain before the first post made the track muddy and caused someone to switch the last race - one of four different turf contests scheduled - to the main track. The turf courses are unusually firm so the soaking was met with gratitude.

It was nice to see trainer Bill Cesare, sporting a short snappy haircut, win the second race.  He must have suspected he would. Third time was a charm for Maria's Luck, a filly he started twice already at the Spa. Now that's what you call old school.

The 105th running of the Gr.2 Saratoga Special went off as the third race. Kantharos, the 1-9 favorite, was left with only a trio of horses to beat.  Jess Jackson's undefeated colt was bumped soundly by Bail Out the Cat coming out of the starting gate, but that didn't faze him.  Garrett Gomez used his stick several times at the top of the homestretch and then coasted under the wire while unthreatened.

Godolphin's Tahitian Warrior was another horse that won at unplayable odds. The three-year-old gelding by Maria's Mon broke his maiden at first asking at Gulfstream in January before crossing eight time zones to race at Meydan in March.. He then lost to Trappe Shot at Belmont and ran a 102 Beyer to triumph for the second time. He paid $2.60 to win Monday.


Vic Zast has attended at least one day of racing at Saratoga in each of the last 47 years. He is the author of the award winning book, "The History and Art of 25 Travers."

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