Wishing Whitney Well

The toughest choice Saratoga horseplayers make might be where to buy sweet corn.  BJ Farms’ stand near the rail station on West Avenue vies for favoritism with Stannard Farms of South Cambridge, NY at the Farmer’s Market on High Rock. It’s a tough competition between the two growers.

Tomatoes and sweet corn in season at Farmer's Market.
Photo by Vic Zast

As far as tomatoes go, Stannard Farms has the advantage.  Stannard’s tomatoes are as big as a Chicago-style 16” softball and so juicy you drip on your shirt as you eat them.  There’s not a person alive who couldn’t survive on tomato and onion with mayonnaise on rye toast sandwiches, especially in August.

The Wishing Well restaurant on Rte. 9, however, is where to go if you want your food served to you. Bob Lee, Jr., his wife Mary Alice and his mom Brenda set out a big plate of sliced beefeaters on your table during the cocktail course and will bring you another if you ask for it.  A platter of succulent corn on the cob, swathed in butter, arrives as you chow down on the double-cut lamb chops or lobster tail.

For years, the Wishing Well has served as the restaurant where Marylou Whitney went to wind down with friends after the Gr. 1 Whitney Invitational Handicap. This year, the celebration went elsewhere.  Marylou wore a demure silk suit and a straw hat to the races.  Of all the people who gathered around her for the trophy presentation, winning jockey Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr. appeared the least star struck.

Marylou Whitney awaits the Whitney Invitational Handicap trophy presentation.
Photo by Vic Zast
Hernandez had probably recorded the biggest triumph of his life and seemed more pre-occupied with helping the media know how Fort Larned managed to win than with celebrating.  Here’s hoping the journalists give credit to the journeyman jockey for getting the jump on the closers at the top of the stretch and opening up an insurmountable lead.  His was a fabulous ride.

Cot Campbell’s Dogwood Stable sent out a nice 2-year-old winner in Palace Malice in the seventh race. The  Gr. I $300,000 Prioress, a new stakes for the Spa course, went to the much beloved H. Allen Jerkens. There was a horse involved but few people noticed.

That aside, the most eventful race was the sixth.  Rounding the bend into the homestretch, Riverdance Rock, a chestnut gelding by Freud, apparently in need of psychiatric help, veered wildly right at the quarter pole and dumped his rider.  Poliziotto won a three-horse photo.

Something has caused Stopshoppingmaria, a sensation last year, to Stoprunningfast.  

She finished fifth in the first while odds-on.

There was a love in the air, perhaps as a result of Friday night’s full moon. Jerry Berliant appeared in the clubhouse with a date on his arm. That’s believed to be a first for the legendary gate crasher.  “He’s basically harmless,” said an usher, who recognized Berliant immediately for who he is.

Valerie Moore, Sam the bugler’s fiancée, sat in a box that she came by legitimately.

Sam the Bugler serenades his fiancee Valerie Moore.
Photo by Vic Zast

Vic Zast is the author of The History and Art of 25 Travers. He has attended the races at Saratoga for 47 straight summers.

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