Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Saratoga, Then

It's August and that means everyone is off to Saratoga.  From July 22nd to September 5th, the sleepy town of Saratoga Springs, NY becomes the center of the equestrian universe.  William Travers built the track in 1864 (hence the Travers Stakes, the premiere race of the "season") and since then the who's who of the social circuit and the equestrian circuit have made Saratoga an annual pilgrimmage.  Saratoga, like the Kentucky Derby, even has its own signature drink, a whiskey sour made with bourbon. 

Let's look back in time at what Saratoga used to look like.  There is some great history here, lot's of great horses raced here and while much has changed, a lot has remained the same.

#4 Onion outlasts #3 Secretariat to win the 1973 Whitney Stakes at Saratoga:

Horses are led up Circular Street (past the Batcheller Mansion) to the track on July 15, 1934. There were no horse vans back then ... all the horses came up from New York via train and then walked up to the track. (The Knickerbocker Press)

Upset beats the famous Man O'War at Saratoga in August 1919; considered one of the greatest racing upsets of all time.  (Times Union Archives photo)

The backstretch at Saratoga Race Course, July 26, 1921.  (Photo from the Saratoga Springs Historical Museum, George S. Bolster Collection).

 A view of the porch outside the Steward's office (it is still there today) but this is 1935. (Saratoga Springs Historical Museum, George S. Bolster Collection).

The crowded second floor dining area at the Spa in 1929. (Courtesy of Saratoga Springs Historical Museum, George S. Bolster collection)

Affirmed, the last Triple Crown winner, at Saratoga on August 6, 1978:

Alydar arrives at Saratoga in July 1978.  He would beat Affirmed in the Travers but won only by a disqualification.

A group of horses make their way towards the main track on the Saratoga backstretch on July 31, 1941. Some things just never change. (Times Union Archives)

A group of exercise jockeys at Saratoga, circa 1931.  No helmets, no flak vests.  (Times Union Archives)

Enjoy your Wednesday!

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