Over 650 people in the backyard, as if in uniform, wore the same clothes to the racecourse. Saratoga’s biggest supporter, horse racing fan Ray Price of Mechanicville, NY, threw the season’s biggest party to celebrate his birthday and presented everyone there with a tee-shirt.
Ray's Sweet 16 party tee shirts worn by many of the 650 guests.
Price’s merry army of neighbors and friends arrived at 7:00 AM to set up, pushed through $1300 in wagers through the windows each race once they started, feasted on lasagna, minaste and pasta fazool and stayed ‘til the sweepers came through before nightfall. That’s a lot of handle and horse racing fans for which Price and his friends are accountable and they have done it without NYRA’s help for 16 straight Augusts.
Price posts the vets for each race on a whiteboard nailed to a tree.
At the same time Price’s caterer The Brickyard Tavern of Ballston Spa, NY, was serving up pizza and wings, Kim Klopstock’s The Lily and the Rose was catering a Planned Parenthood benefit buffet featuring grilled wild-caught shrimp with a mango salsa, creamy chicken salad, decadent French chocolate brownies and mini crème puffs at the Union Gables B&B. In the live auction portion of the program, a Bob Ewell watercolor of Rags to Riches went for almost the same amount that a Peter Max lithograph of a hot pink horse went.
The line-up for pizza and wings proves the food is good.
Both parties competed with the first day of the two-day Daily Racing Form handicapping contest, which was held in The Carousel where slightly over 200 horseplayers paid $1000 each to gain entry. It didn’t look as if the food in The Carousel was as good.
The first race was a 5 ½ furlong turf race for maiden two-year-olds. There have been fewer races with these conditions than in previous years. Peachtree Stable’s John Fort, the owner of Belly of the Whale, the colt that won the dash, must be glad that it filled. The second race was the $100,000 Claramount Stakes for NY-Breds, a furlong longer on the dirt, and the fifth race was the New York State Stallion Series Stakes, a race for the Cab Calloway Division, at a mile on the grass.
The Claramont was uneventful, featuring only four horses. The odds-on favorite Marriedtothemusic lost to the second choice Bond Vigilante. On the other hand, the Cab Callaway had a Sam the Bugler rendition of “Hidee Hidee Hidee Ho” and a resoundingly unpopular disqualification. The stewards determined that a 12-1 shot named Orino squeezed the 3-4 chalk West Hills Giant on the rail and wouldn’t have won if he didn’t.
In keeping with the competitive theme, the annual Jockeys vs. Horsemen basketball game at the Recreation Center went head-to head against the Philadelphia Orchestra’s opening night at SPAC.
The long awaited opening of Northshire Bookstore on Broadway occurred and will have its first author signing on Thursday evening featuring former Schenectady Gazette horse racing writer Mike Kane and National Museum of Racing historian Allan Carter, who collaborated on “150 Years of Racing in Saratoga: Little-Known Stories and Facts from America’s Most Historic Racing City.” The title alone is the length of the book.
Although Northshire Bookstore has no restaurant like the Northsshire Bookstore in Manchester, VT, it knows where its bread's buttered - a horse racing book section.
Vic Zast has attended the races at Saratoga for 49 straight summers.