THE HORSES, THE PEOPLE, THE LIFESTYLE SUMMER 2015 Complimentary
Saratoga Race Course
Owner/Publisher Chad Beatty
General Manager Robin Mitchell
Creative Director Alyssa Jackson
Advertising Chris Bushee Jim Daley Cindy Durfey
Graphic Designers Amy Gifford Alyssa Jackson
Contributing Writers Marion E. Altieri Brien Bouyea Alan Edstrom Dennis Hogan
Photographers MarkBolles.com National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame NYRA.com Sharon Castro Photography Dan Heary
Published by Saratoga TODAY Newspaper Five Case Street, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 tel: (518) 581-2480 saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
Cover photo by Sharon Castro Equicurean is brought to you by Saratoga TODAY Newspaper, Saratoga Publishing, LLC. Saratoga Publishing shall make every effort to avoid errors and omissions but disclaims any responsibility should they occur. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by a ny means without prior written consent of the publisher. Copyright © 2015, Saratoga TODAY Newspaper
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20 POLO 8
Welcome to Saratoga Polo
12 Schedule of Events 14 Polo Primer 18 Polo Equipment 20 Women’s Week 26 Polo Traditions • The Divot Stomp • Sabrage • Tailgating 6 | Equicurean | July 2015
42 Welcome to Saratoga Racetrack 50 Fasig-Tipton 56 Conformation 58 American Pharoah 62 ROI - Training Juveniles 68 Valerie Buck & ACTT 82 Racing Museum 91 Greg Montgomery 94 And He’s Off...
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Saratoga Polo 8 | Equicurean | July 2015
On July 10th, the Saratoga Polo Association’s 117th Anniversary Season bursts onto Whitney Field, galloping into a marathon of majestic polo action for eight straight weekends. Each weekend, teams will compete in a new tournament, which culminates with the cup match on Sunday. This season’s events include the Ram Truck Polo Hall of Fame Cup Tournament on August 28th and 30th, as well as Women’s Week featuring the Veuve Clicquot Women’s Challenge on July 24th and 26th. We have added a tournament to honor the Saratoga Springs Centennial, as the Times Union presents the Saratoga Centennial Cup on July 31st and August 2nd! The season welcomes action on the field, and fun in the stands with divot stomps, music, fashion, shopping, contests, trophies delivered by helicopter, an Army vs Navy match, and more with family and friends! Matches take place at Saratoga Polo Association’s Whitney Field at two Bloomfield Road, Greenfield Center, NY every Friday and Sunday July
11th-August 31st. Gates open at 4pm, and the matches begin at 5:30pm. For tickets and more information, go to Saratogapolo.com.
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History Saratoga Springs Polo
Throughout the years, polo luminaries ranging from an iconic line of Whitneys and Vanderbilts furiously battled with renowned American polo enthusiasts such as the Ingleharts and Bostwicks. In the midst of the 20 Century, the Whitney Field lay dormant, until being revived in 1978 by polo legend Tommy Glynn. Throughout the following years, players such as Peter Brant, Hector Barrantes and William Yvlisaker brought polo to a new modern era in Saratoga. th
In 1994, Tony DePaula, Bob Bailey, George Hearst III, with Linda and David Mansfield purchased the Polo Club, laying the groundwork for the popularity of today with its new owners, Mike Bucci and Jim Rossi. In 2004, these new owners purchased the club and besides making polo more accessible to a broader audience, they 10 | Equicurean | July 2015
increased its visibility with major partners that include Veuve Clicquot Champagne as sponsors of one of the largest women’s tournaments in the United States. In 2008, plans were approved for construction of the spectacular Saratoga Retreat, which will include luxury accommodations, private residences, an event hall and exclusive spa. In 2012, the Saratoga Polo brand reached a new level by the announcement of a partnership with national apparel sponsor U.S. POLO ASSN. In the 116 years that has passed since the first polo players graced Whitney Field, much has changed in the world, but the tradition of Saratoga Polo lives on, finding an endearing place in Saratoga, and now reaches fans across the country, and the world. ◊ saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
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Matches are Friday and Sunday July 10 – Labor Day. Matches begin at 5:30pm., Gates open at 4:00pm
SEASON-LONG SEAT SUBSCRIPTIONS AND MATCH TICKETS ON SALE NOW! For seat subscriptions, tickets, and more information go to saratogapolo.com
Saratoga WarHorse Foundation presents the Adirondack Trust Celebrate Saratoga Cup
The Celebrate Saratoga Cup Finals
The Mid Summer Celebration Tournament
The Mid Summer Celebration Tournament Finals Saratoga TODAY Cup
The Times Union presents the Saratoga Centennial Cup Tournament Finals
The Whitney Cup
The Whitney Cup Finals
The Barrantes Cup Tournament David N. Deutsch and Co. Cup
The Barrantes Cup Tournament Finals
The Veuve Clicquot Women’s Challenge Tournament The Veuve Clicquot Women’s Challenge Tournament finals
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The Times-Union presents the Saratoga Centennial Cup Tournament
The Ylvisaker Cup Tournament
The Ylvisaker Cup Tournament Finals
The Polo Hall of Fame Challenge Cup
The The Polo Hall of Fame Challenge Cup Finals
The SPA Anniversary Cup Tournament
The SPA Anniversary Cup Tournament Finals
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Polo Primer A breakdown of terms you’ll hear on a typical day at the polo field
Also called a period. There arc six chukkers in a polo game (four in the Arena Polo), each lasting seven minutes. After sixand-a-half minutes, a bell will sound to indicate 30 seconds remain in the period. At the end of seven minutes of elapsed time, a horn will sound to terminate the period. If the score is tied at the end of last period of play, the game shall be resumed in overtime periods, known as sudden death.
Two mounted umpires (one for each side of the field) consult each other after each infringement and impose a penalty only if they agree. Ir they do not agree, they ride to the sidelines to confer with the third man, known as the referee.
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Throw-In A chukker begins and many plays resume with the umpire bowling the ball between the two ready teams. A ceremonial throw-in is done by a guest at the beginning of the match.
Appearing at Saratoga Polo Appearing Polo
* July 10 * July 31 * Aug 14 * Aug 21 * Aug 28 * Proudly sponsored by:
BOOKINGS: 518-791-7616/518-886-8335 www.partyofthreemusic.com
tHIRD MAN The referee sitting at the sidelines. If and when the two umpires on the field are in disagreement, the third man makes the final decision.
Neck Shot A ball which is hit under the horse’s neck from either side. This is approximately 80 percent of their game. saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
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This occurs when two riders make contact and attempt to push each other off the line of the ball to prevent the other from striking. The horses are the ones intended to do the pushing, although a player may use his body but not his elbows.
Anytime a ball crosses the line between the goal posts, it is considered a goal regardless of whether a horse or mallet causes the ball to go through. In order to equalize wind and turf conditions, the teams change sides after every goal scored.
tail Shot Hitting the ball behind and across the horse’s rump.
POSITIONS Each of the four-team members plays a distinctly different position. Since polo is such a fluid game, the players may momentarily change positions, but they will try and return to their initial assignment. No. 1 is the most forward offensive player. No.2 is just as offensive, but plays deeper and works harder. No.3 is the pivot player between offense and defense and tries to tum all plays to offense. No.4, or the back, is the defensive player whose role is principally to protect the goal.
Sideboards Boards that are 9 to II inches along the sidelines. Sideboards are optional. 16 | Equicurean | July 2015
A player may spoil another’s shot by putting his mallct in the way of the striking player. A cross hook occurs when the player reaches over his opponent’s mount in an attempt to hook; this is considered a foul.
Also known as a “stick.” The shaft is made from a bamboo shoot and the head from either the bamboo root or a hardwood such as maple. These vary in length from 48 to 54 inches and are very flexible in comparison to a golf club or hockey stick.
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PoloEquipment Have you ever wondered what is required for the horse and rider to stay safe during a Polo match? HELMET REINS SADDLE
BROW BAND NOSE BAND
BIT HEADPIECE MARTINGALE THROAT LASH ELBOW & KNEE PADS
POLO WRAPS MALLET
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Mallet- a mallet, usually 49”-54”consists of the shaft, normally made of a flexible, solid, bamboo-like wood known as Manau (from the palm family of plants) and the head, made of ash or maple. There is also a strap that goes around the player’s wrist.
Helmet- Just like most contact sports, the helmet is probably the most important part of safety equipment. With the horses moving at an average speed of 40 mph, at the ball travelling at a top speed of 100mph, the hard outer shell and cushioned inner layer can prevent head trauma in an unlikely case of an accident. Ball- Usually made of solid plastic 3 to 3-1/2 inches in diameter and 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 ounces in weight. For many years they were made of wood, but because of their fragile nature, would often split in two.
Player Knee and Elbow PadsOften made from shock resistant resin and leather
Polo Wraps, Shin Boots, and Bell Boots- All of these pieces of equipment protect the lower legs of the horse. Wraps are fabric pieces wound around the lower leg of the horse, and the boots are often leather.
Headpiece- This is looped over the horse's head and ears to support the bit in the mouth.
Brow Band - This band is looped across the forehead to prevent the bridle from slipping backward. Bit- A metal mouthpiece helps to direct the horse Nose Band -Helps to stop the horse from avoiding the bit.
Throat Lash- helps to stop the bridle from slipping. Reins- The reins are attached to the bit rings.
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If you want some perspective, these ratings are the equivalent of a woman playing as a professional on the winning team in the NFL
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Women’s Week This year, Saratoga Polo welcomes back Sunny Hale, the highest rated women’s polo player in history, to The Veuve Clicquot Women’s Challenge on July 24 and July 26 alongside top women polo players, adding to the excitement at Whitney Field.
or fans of Saratoga Polo, The Women’s Week Tournament events have become the must-see matches of the whole summer. Last year, Hale led her team to victory in front of a cheering crowd, whose enthusiasm seemed to whisk away rainy skies to finish off the season. On July 20, 2012, Hale also went head-to-head with a feisty upcoming star, Tiffany Busch, in what some people have called “The Greatest Women’s Polo Match Ever” when the Asperion Group Polo battled the Las Vinas Team. In overtime, Las Vinas narrowly defeated Asperion 8-7.
Sunny Hale saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
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ale is now an acclaimed author, adding her book “Let’s Talk Polo” to her already storied career.
Besides being the founder of the American Polo Horse Association, she is currently the highest-rated woman polo player in America at 3 Goals, and the first woman in history to win the U.S. Open Polo Championship, the most prestigious and highest level polo tournament played in the United States. Hale attained the highest rating ever given to a woman in the history of the sport of 5 Goals, after winning the U.S. Open Polo Championship with Outback Steakhouse Polo Team in 2000 with teammates Adolfo Cambiaso, Lolo Castagnola, and Phil Heatley, as well as team owner Tim Gannon.
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hese ratings in polo are the equivalent of a woman playing as a professional on the winning team in the NFL, the World Series or NBA Championships.
Jim Rossi, Managing Partner of Saratoga Polo, looks at this opportunity with excitement and satisfaction. “Saratoga Polo was one of the first polo clubs to present a major women’s tournament. With the help of sponsors like Veuve Clicquot, we are proud to bring this fastest growing part of the sport to the Saratoga Springs destination,” said Rossi. “The Veuve Clicquot Women’s Challenge is one of the top women’s tournaments in the United States.” As a salute to the tradition started during the Napoleonic Wars by Madame Clicquot, guests at the Clubhouse will get a chance to sabre a bottle of champagne with a sword guided by our sabrage experts. Women’s Week featuring the Veuve Clicquot Women’s Challenge public matches will be on Friday, July 24 and Sunday, July 26 at Saratoga Polo Association’s Whitney Field at 5:30 p.m., with the gates opening at 4 p.m. To purchase tickets, or for more information, go to Saratogapolo.com, or call (518) 584-8108.
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The ‘Art’ of Polo There are iconic trophies in sports throughout the world… The Stanley Cup, The Lombardi Trophy, The Wimbeldon Cup…to name a few. But when it came time to create trophies for Saratoga Polo Association’s 117th season and the Times-Union Saratoga Centennial Cup, the folks at SPA turned to a local artist that would create something unique and original - Frankie Flores, and the artists at Flores Fine Art Gallery. “Since Saratoga Spring’s Centennial comes only once, we wanted to that one-of-a-kind icon that celebrates the city, polo, and some of the best artists in the city,” said Alan Edstrom, Director of Events at Saratoga Polo, “Frankie has worked with us before on the painted horse in front of the Clubhouse, so we new that that artistic sensibility would have a continuity and sense of our style.” Although the sketch that Flores is working on is “in progress”, the strength, line, and power of the design is befitting to celebrating polo at Whitney Field. “The idea is to etch the metal so I can paint a polo scene on one side. The top will adorned with a metal wire sculpture that I will also produce. The sculpture will sit on a wooden base that can be removed,” said Flores. As if that weren’t enough, Flores has enlisted an army of artists to create individual trophies for each match that go to the players. The trophies will use a polo ball and allow the artists to decorate it in their own unique style. Some of the artists saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
include: Rachel Durland, Nancy Magnell, Celeste Susany Gallery, Angel Cortes, and Frankie Flores. More to come. Flores summed it up by saying, “All the artists on board are very excited to participate in the project as well as my self. The trophy will be a very exciting and awesome kool visual.” Matches at Saratoga Polo Association begin Every Friday and Sunday July 10th through September 6th with the gates opening at 4pm and action on the field beginning at 5:30pm at Whitney Field, 2, Bloomfield Road, in Greenfield Center. For tickets and more information, go to saratogapolo.com or call 518 584-8108 For information on the trophies or the art of the polo season, contact Frankie Flores, Flores Fine Art Gallery, www.floresart7.com
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Polo Traditions A
ll sports have traditions, but few have ones as unique and interactive as the game of Polo. With traditions that bring the spectators onto the field and make them part of the experience, Polo offers something for everyone. Head out to the Historic Whitney Field this summer for the 117th anniversary season at Saratoga Polo and share in the festivities, some old, some new. To help make the most of your visit we have some fun facts and tips about what to expect…
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The Divot Stomp
erhaps the most widely known polo tradition is the ceremonial stomping of the divots. What is a divot? It is a mound of earth that has been torn up by the horse’s hooves as they gallop down the field, upwards of 40 miles per hour. During half-time of a match, spectators are invited to go onto the field not only help replace the mounds, but to walk about, socialize, and take in the scene. “It’s the equivalent of asking the people in the stands at a baseball game to fix the infield during a game”, said Alan Edstrom, Director of Events at Saratoga Polo. “It’s also a great civilized way for people to meet, drink and know that they are helping the match move along safely. I’ll bet you won’t get that at Yankee Stadium!”
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fter a match, everyone looks forward to celebrating a victory with bottle after bottle of Champagne, and joy is in the air. But leave it to polo aficionados to focus on a ceremony that combines a little bit of the bubbly with the flair of a sword, and leave it to a strong willed woman, Barbe Nicole Ponsardin – aka Veuve Clicquot, to use this “Sabrage” technique to promote her family’s Champagne in such theatrical style. When her husband died when she was 27, she took over her husband’s company and it became the largest exporter of Champagne for the Royal Courts in the Russian Empire and France. During the Napoleonic Wars, she began to organize parties for officers to enjoy before battle. As the soldiers were riding on horseback, it was difficult to open the foil and cage and take the cork out. So, one day, a young officer took out his sword and beheaded the bottle with a stroke of his blade – and the celebratory tradition stuck. Saratoga Polo invites all its guests to join us as we present this art of the victory on the legendary Whitney Field, and salute what Barbe Nicole Ponsardin made popular the tradition that Veuve Clicquot continues today.
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There are two distinct sides to the field at Saratoga Polo: The Clubhouse side, where guests are seated in the shade of a pavilion. There the guests are more likely to get dressed in their finest summer attire, and order food from the wait staff and… The Tailgating side where guests pile into a car, pull up to the edge of the field, unpack their chairs, dining room tables, and a smorgasbord of picnic goodies that sometimes rivals the feast at a king’s supper, with sometimes fashion to match. The tailgating tradition at polo is quite different than other sports. Unlike baseball and football where your party is isolated in parking lots, polo lets you stretch out on the green grass and host your party on the edge of the field. You’ll also see a vast spectrum of everything from man-cave inspired barbecues and Great Gatsby themed picnics, to luaus with costumed party-goers. At Saratoga Polo, the fans let their imaginations go wild, and the staff have partnered with Healthy Living Market for two Tailgating Contests on Friday July 17th and Friday August 7th with prizes galore awarded for imagination, creativity, best use of food, and more! …and if you want the best of both worlds, come several times, and party on both sides of the field!
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The Ultimate Trophy Delivery System Anyone can deliver the polo match trophy to Whitney Field by hand or by car, but this season, Saratoga Polo has partnered with Independent Helicopter to create the Ultimate Trophy Delivery System by air. On two of the biggest matches of the season, the finals of the Veuve Clicquot Women’s Challenge on July 26th, and the Whitney Cup on August 9th, the pilots of Independent Helicopter will be making a dramatic entrance before the match to bring these two prestigious awards to Whitney Field. As if that were not enough, Independent Helicopter will be part of the Opening Day Ceremonies with a breathtaking salute to our Veterans that celebrates the Saratoga Warhorse Foundation. Alan Edstrom, Saratoga Polo’s Director of Events talked about this new polo tradition and the partnership with Independent Helicopter, “With Offices in Saratoga Springs and Newburgh servicing clients throughout New York State, Independent Helicopter pilots are highly trained and ready to fly. Instruction, tours, aerial photography, utility inspection, and transportation flight are a mere sampling of their capabilities. Their pilots have logged thousands of hours in both piston and turbine helicopters. . Advanced training is done in Robinson helicopters from both locations. Frasca Flight Simulator at their Stewart airport location for advanced emergency maneuvers and flight practice. We are thrilled to bring the Saratoga Polo events to a new level of excitement”
Duchenne Duo Cup September 4th
Polo is an amazing sport with outstanding human and equine athletes, but a big part of the celebration at Saratoga Polo is about the fans. This summer season at Whitney Field we will be spotlighting one family with a named cup on September 4th, The Frolishes and their avid polo fan sons Peter and Phillip, better known as the Duchenne Duo. “The Duchenne Duo Cup on September 4th is our way of paying tribute to Saratoga Polo Association fans, the Frolishes, and helping to raise awareness of the challenges that Peter and Phillip grapple with every day as they live life to the fullest while confronting Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy,” said Jim Rossi, Managing Partner of Saratoga Polo Association. “For the past few years, Tina and Alex have brought their boys out to Whitney Field at every match, and they have become the most vocal and visible fans who both support the sport, treating the players like star heroes and inspire everyone around with their positive attitude. It’s unique experience that the boys have on the players that on the rare time that the Duchenne Duo are not at the match, the players can feel that some kind of energy is missing. The Frolishes are really stars for the players. For that reason, and much more, we are honoring them with a named cup on Labor Day Weekend.”
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WELCOME! NOTED AS ONE OF THE
Top 10 Sporting Venues In The World by Sports Illustrated, Saratoga Race Course is one of horse racing’s most
RACETRACK DETAILS 40 DAYS July 24 to September 7 Excluding Dark Tuesdays POST TIMES: 1 P.M. DAILY except: 11:35 a.m. on Travers Day, Saturday, August 29 12:30 p.m. on Monday, September 7 – Labor Day INFORMATION For information prior to the meet please phone (718) 641-4700 or (516) 488-6000. For information during the 2015 Saratoga meet (July 24 to September 7) please call (518) 584-6200.
and style, Saratoga Race Course is the
SARATOGA RACE COURSE is a 350-acre racetrack in Saratoga Springs NY. The 2015 meeting will be 40 days long from Friday, July 24 to Labor Day, Monday, September 7. Saratoga is the home of the 146th Running of the Travers Stakes on August 29.
place to find top Thoroughbred horse
MAIN COURSE: 1 1/8 Miles
racing July through Labor Day each
TURF COURSE: 1 Mile
year. The 40-day meet draws the top
STEEPLECHASE/ INNER TURF: 7/8 Mile
beloved tracks. With historical ambiance and modern day amenities
horses, trainers and owners in the world to try their luck at “the Spa.” Known as the Graveyard of
ATTENDANCE CAPACITY: 50,000 TRACKSIDE DINING: 2,200
Champions, Saratoga Race Course
TOTAL SEATING CAPACITY: 18,000, including picnic tables and benches.
has earned a reputation for being a
GENERAL PARKING: Free
challenging track for favorites. In fact, the dominant Man O’ War lost his only race against the aptly named Upset here at Saratoga.
TRACKSIDE PARKING $12. Gates open at 6:45a.m. (Refunds available until 10 a.m. No refunds on Travers Day Saturday, August 24) PREFERRED PARKING: Preferred parking available for $7 while trackside parking is $12.
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TRACK INFO ADMISSION
Grandstand admission is $5
For your convenience, ATM machines are at the
Clubhouse admission is $8
Patrons entering via the grandstand can pay the
• 1st floor Grandstand near the end mutuel window closest to finish line.
$3 exchange to enter the clubhouse area.
• 2nd floor Grandstand opposite the Belmont Grill.
• 1st floor Clubhouse adjacent to the Belmont Café.
• Coolers are permitted in the backyard, apron and Top of the Stretch
areas only. Coolers are not permitted anywhere inside the building. No glass is permitted to be brought onto the premises. Coolers may contain plastic bottles or cans and are subject to search by NYRA Security personnel.
• Pop-Up tents and umbrellas are restricted to the backyard area only.
They are prohibited on the apron, and by the Paddock. However, if a Pop-Up Tent or Umbrella in the backyard is blocking another patron’s view of a TV monitor, tote board, etc., then the obstruction must be removed.
• It is a long-time race track tradition that you can “reserve” a bench
seat with a newspaper or program. We ask that you respect this tradition, but please be aware that our Security Personnel will not intercede in any debate regarding this matter.
• Backyard Picnic Tables – another tradition is that anyone coming to
the track early (after 7:00 a.m.) can reserve a picnic table by putting their articles on that table (1 table per person). You must then exit the track when the morning breakfast patrons leave, and pay to re-enter at the time the gates open for racing.
• After the official opening of the first floor Carousel (11:00 a.m.
weekdays, 10:30 a.m. weekends; 7:00 a.m. Travers Day), patrons may “reserve” seating by placing their property on the table. “Reserved” tables not claimed by post time of the 1st race are subject to release.
• 2nd floor Clubhouse opposite the Clubhouse elevator. • 3rd floor Clubhouse opposite the Clubhouse escalator. • 4th floor Clubhouse opposite the Turf & Field Room.
Located on the first floor, Grandstand, behind the Carousel Mini Theatre.
LOST AND FOUND
Located in the Security Office at the west end of in the basement.
RACE REPLAY CENTERS
Located on the 2nd floor of the Clubhouse opposite the escalator and the 2nd floor of the Grandstand opposite the Belmont Grill.
Coolers are permitted on the trackside apron, the Top of the Stretch and backyard picnic area. Coolers are not permitted anywhere inside the building. ALL GLASS CONTAINERS ARE PROHIBITED. Coolers may contain plastic bottles or cans and subject to search by NYRA security. *On Travers Day Saturday, August 29th no coolers will be allowed in the clubhouse or on the apron larger than 12-by-18 inches.
• There is NO SMOKING permitted anywhere inside the building,
including the reserved seats, box area, and all dining areas.
• Wheelchair Access Areas – there are specially marked areas for
wheelchairs only behind Reserved Seat Sections J (in the Clubhouse) and M (in the Grandstand).
• Resale of tickets – Tickets may not be resold or offered for resale
at a premium in excess of the amount allowed by any Federal, State or local law or regulation; the NYS legislature prohibits any resale of tickets within 1,000 feet of our property line.
Binocular Rentals located on the first floor, Clubhouse and Grandstand.
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DINING AT THE TRACK The Turf Terrace Dining Room is located on the third and fourth floors of the Clubhouse. The multi-level trackside dining area offers a great view of all the racing action overlooking the finish line. An a la carte menu is served in a formal open-air setting. The Club Terrace is located behind the box seat area on the second floor of the Clubhouse, overlooking the backyard & paddock. It offers a popular selection of appetizers, refreshing salads and specialty sandwiches in a casual open-air setting. Television monitors are available for viewing of the races.
Photo by Dan Heary
The Porch is located on the track level of the Clubhouse just a few feet from the outside rail. It offers an a la carte menu in a casual open-air setting. Please go to http://www.nyra.com/saratoga/ or call (518) 584-6200 x 2260 for specific guidelines regarding: Dress Code, Reservations, Seating Charges and the Cancellation Policy regarding any of the dining options mentioned above. Breakfast at Saratoga is a long-standing tradition. Every racing day from 7 to 9:30 a.m., breakfast is served on The Porch of the Clubhouse while the Thoroughbreds prepare for future races. Mary Ryan, a lifelong horsewoman, provides expert commentary for the workouts. Admission to breakfast is free with the exception of Travers Day when a $10 Clubhouse admission fee is required. Dress code is casual attire, trackside parking is $10, but refundable if you leave by 10 am. The Breakfast Buffet is $8 per person, weekdays and 10 per person weekends plus tax and gratuity. One of the highlights of the breakfast program is the free walking tour of our famous and historic stable area (weather permitting). The first tram that takes you to the stable area leaves the main Clubhouse entrance at 7:30 a.m. with additional trams leaving approximately every 15 minutes. The last tour departs at around 9:00 a.m. (The Tour is available every race day except Travers Day and Labor Day)
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TRACK DRESS CODE Please take note of Saratoga’s new and more fan-friendly dress code. PADDOCK SADDLING AREA AND WINNER’S CIRCLE: No shorts or abbreviated wear permitted. Gentlemen–collared shirts required. BOX SEAT AREA: No shorts or jeans permitted. Gentlemen – suits or sports jackets required. TURF TERRACE: Neat Casual Attire, No jeans, shorts or abbreviated wear permitted. Gentlemen – collared shirts required (Management reserves the right to use its discretion to determine Neat Casual Attire). AT THE RAIL PAVILION, THE PORCH, CLUB TERRACE AND CAROUSEL RESTAURANT: Gentlemen – No Tank Tops No short-shorts, cut-offs or abbreviated wear permitted. Proper attire at management’s discretion.
LUXURY SUITES: No abbreviated wear permitted. Gentlemen - No tank tops Proper attire at management’s discretion. CLUBHOUSE: No short shorts, cut-offs or abbreviated wear permitted. No tank tops. Proper attire at management’s discretion GRANDSTAND: Shirts and shoes required. People 12 years and over must abide by the dress code.
Photo by Mayberg/Heary saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
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TRAVERS DAY, ENHANCED WHITNEY DAY & NEW SARATOGA SHOWCASE DAY
wo of the biggest days in North American racing will highlight the historic 147th meet at Saratoga Race Course this summer, with the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers the centerpiece of a supercharged Travers Day and the Grade 1, $1.25 million Whitney anchoring five stakes on Whitney Festival Day, Saturday, August 8. The 40-day meet, which includes 69 stakes worth a record $18.7 million in purses, will run from Friday, July 24, through Labor Day, Monday, September 7. After opening weekend, racing will be conducted six days a week, Wednesdays through Mondays. Joining the 146th running of the Mid-Summer Derby for 3-year-olds on Saturday, August 29 will be five other Grade 1 stakes, including the 1 ½-mile Sword Dancer Invitational on the turf, whose purse has been enhanced to $1 million. Also added to the card and receiving purse hikes are the $750,000, 1 1/8-mile Personal Ensign for fillies and mares and the $700,000 Forego at seven furlongs. Rounding out the stellar card are the $500,000 Ballerina for fillies and mares and the $500,000 King’s Bishop, both at seven furlongs, and the Grade 2, $400,000 Ballston Spa for turf fillies and mares. “We have made improvements to Travers Day to keep in line with the creation of our ‘must-see’ events,” said Martin Panza, Senior Vice President of Racing Operations for the New York Racing Association. “We are developing Travers Day into a national event - a mini
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Breeders’ Cup - by increasing the purses for the Personal Ensign and the Forego. By including the Sword Dancer and raising the purse to $1 million we hope to create international involvement in that race.” The prestigious 1 1/8-mile Whitney will pair with the Grade 1, $500,000 Test for 3-year-old fillies atop the festival card, which also offers the Grade 3, $200,000 Fasig-Tipton Waya for turf fillies and mares going 1 1/2 miles. Also on August 8 are two additional turf stakes: the $100,000 Lure at 1 1/16 miles and the $100,000 FasigTipton De La Rose at a mile for fillies and mares. The traditional local prep for the Travers, the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy, will be held on Saturday, August 1. Additions to the Spa stakes schedule include the Grade 2, $250,000 Bowling Green at 1 3/8 miles on the turf on Saturday, August 1, which will serve as a prep for the Sword Dancer, and two new juvenile turf stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs: the $100,000 Bolton Landing for fillies on Wednesday, August 19, and the $100,000 Schenectady on Friday, August 21. “Both of these 2-year-old turf stakes were created with a look ahead to the Breeders’ Cup,” said Panza. A prelude to the Travers will be New York Breeders’ Showcase Day, which will be moved to Friday, August 28, instead of on Sunday. The popular state-bred card will include six stakes, highlighted by the saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
Photo by Dan Heary
$250,000 Albany for 3-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles. Opening Day, Friday, July 24 will kick off with a pair of graded stakes: the Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville for 2-year-old fillies and the Grade 3, $200,000 Lake George for 3-year-old turf fillies. Continuing the traditional juvenile dirt stakes are the Grade 3, $150,000 Sanford on Saturday, July 25; the Grade 2, $200,000 Toyota Saratoga Special on Sunday, August 16 and the Grade 1, $350,000 Hopeful on Monday, September 7, along with their sister races: the Grade 2, $200,000 Adirondack on Saturday, August 15 and the Grade 1, $350,000 Spinaway on Saturday, September 5. Grade 1 action commences with the $500,000 TVG Diana for turf fillies and mares on Saturday, July 25, and the $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks for 3-year-old fillies on Sunday, July 26. Continuing the world-class Grade 1 offerings are the $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap for sprinters on Saturday, August 1; the aforementioned Whitney and Test on August 8; the Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama on Saturday, August 22, and the Travers, Sword Dancer, Personal Ensign, Forego, Ballerina and King’s Bishop on Saturday, August 29. Closing weekend Grade 1 features include the $600,000 Woodward for 3-year-olds and up and the Spinaway on Saturday, September 5, along with the Hopeful on Monday, September 7.
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Fasig-Tipton 2015 SARATOGA SALES August 10-11 August 15-16
The Saratoga Sale NY Bred Preferred Yearlings
Auctions will begin at 7 pm each evening in the Humphrey S. Finney Pavilion in Saratoga Springs.
In 2014, The Saratoga Sale sold 114 selected yearlings for $33,284,000, an average of $291,965 per yearling. Fasig-Tipton has catalogued 209 selected yearlings, an increase of 27%, for its 95th Saratoga Sale
S TAT I S T I C S F O R 8 / 4 / 2 0 1 4 T H R U 8 / 5 / 2 0 1 4 S A L E Date
8/4/2014 8/5/2014 TOTALS
$18,267,000 $15,017,000 $33,284,000
$232,500 $237,500 $237,500
S TAT I S T I C S F O R P R E V I O U S 8 / 5 / 2 0 1 3 T H R U 8 / 6 / 2 0 1 3 S A L E Date Sold Total Average Not Sold Median
8/5/2013 8/6/2013 TOTALS
50 58 108
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$15,670,000 $16,200,000 $31,870,000
S A R AT O G A S E L E C T E D Y E A R L I N G S ( 2 0 1 4 T O P S A L E S ) Hip # 150 81 69 112 82 130 58 137 121 109 75 100 148 29 117 63 80 74 163 34 119 27 28 47 78 12
Sex F F F C C C C C F F F F F C C F F C F C F F F C C C
WAR FRONT CHARMING TAPIT SHE BE WILD TAPIT ROTE BERNARDINI TWEETER UNBRIDLED’S SONGSHESABULLWINKLE AWESOME AGAIN ZAMBEZI BELLE MEDAGLIA D’ORO PASSION DU COEUR KITTEN’S JOY ARTISANAL MEDAGLIA D’ORO WEEKEND WHIM MALIBU MOON TRAIL MAGIC WAR FRONT SANTA CATARINA AWESOME AGAIN SWEET CHARITY SPEIGHTSTOWN CELEBRITY CAT DISTORTED HUMOR JOANIE’S CATCH STREET SENSE USEEWHATIMSAYING MALIBU MOON PRALL STREET GIO PONTI SHANDRA SMILES DISTORTED HUMOR SADLER’S SECRETARY (IRE) UNCLE MO ERICA’S MELODY TIZWAY LADY NICHOLA TIZWAY VINDY CITY MEDAGLIA D’ORO INDIA MEDAGLIA D’ORO IVANAVINALOT TRAPPE SHOT MAYHAVEBEENTHEONE KITTEN’S JOY SEATTLE TAC TIZNOW GARDEN DISTRICT
WILLIS B HORTON LLC $1,250,000 SOLIS/LITT $1,150,000 REGIS FARMS $1,000,000 JOHN FERGUSON $800,000 STONESTREET/BOLTON/LEIDEL $700,000 STONESTREET STABLES & G BOLTON $700,000 JOHN FERGUSON $675,000 AL SHAQAB RACING $650,000 DEBBY M OXLEY $625,000 D BRENNAN FOR HIGHLAND YARD $610,000 BLANDFORD BLOODSTOCK LTD $600,000 STONESTREET STABLES LLC $600,000 HILL N DALE BLOODSTOCK, AGENT $600,000 JOHN FERGUSON $550,000 ROBERT BAKER & WILLIAM MACK $550,000 STONESTREET STABLES $500,000 JOHN FERGUSON $500,000 JOHN FERGUSON $450,000 CRAIG BERNICK LLC $450,000 MATTHEW SCHERA $425,000 WHISPER HILL FARM LLC $425,000 JOHN FERGUSON $400,000 FOX HILL FARM,TOM MCGREEVY AGT $400,000 MATTHEW SCHERA $400,000 JOHN FERGUSON $400,000 ROBERT BAKER & WILLIAM MACK $400,000
In data recently released by BloodHorse
Saratoga Sale once again ranks at the
top of all major U.S. yearling sales by percentage of Grade 1 winners, Graded Stakes Winners, and Stakes Winners
produced from horses sold.
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Fasig-Tipton S TAT I S T I C S F O R 8 / 9 / 2 0 1 4 T H R U 8 / 1 0 / 2 0 1 4 S A L E Date
S TAT I S T I C S F O R P R E V I O U S 8 / 1 0 / 2 0 1 3 T H R U 8 / 1 1 / 2 0 1 3 S A L E
8/10/2013 8/11/2013 TOTALS
95 101 196
$67,658 $77,015 $72,480
Median $55,000 $55,000 $55,000
S A R AT O G A S E L E C T E D Y E A R L I N G S ( 2 0 1 4 T O P S A L E S ) Hip #
150 436 310 302 500 226 247 343 504 428 355 467 477 499 483 250 285 393 220 254 386 437 456 211
F F F C C C F C C F C C F C C C C C C F F C C C
WAR FRONT LOOKIN AT LUCKY TIZWAY ICE BOX SUPER SAVER TALE OF THE CAT MEDAGLIA D’ORO GIANT’S CAUSEWAY GIROLAMO SUPER SAVER HAT TRICK (JPN) TALE OF EKATI CAPE BLANCO (IRE) SUPER SAVER SCAT DADDY SIDNEY’S CANDY TRAPPE SHOT TRAPPE SHOT INCLUDE BROKEN VOW CANDY RIDE (ARG) BELLAMY ROAD GIO PONTI FORESTRY
CHARMING ROSE RHAPSODY FREE AS TRISTAN FEAR THIS THAT’S OK ANDRASTE BLUSH JESSE’S JUSTICE THIN DISGUISE RICHIEGIRLGONEWILD LADY MANOLO SOVEREIGNOFTHESEAS ST FRANCIS WOOD TARTAN LADY SUNNY BROADWAY HENNESSEY DREAM JOB NOT A PEEP ADORABLE YOU CANARYINACAGE MY MAGIC MOMENT RULE ONE SHOO IN WAY WITH WORDS
WILLIS B HORTON LLC WHISPER HILL FARM LLC HUBERT A GUY, AGENT NICHOLAS P ZITO, AGENT HUBERT GUY BLOODSTOCK BLUE BISON STABLE MCMAHON & HILL FOR EDITION PATRICIA R SCHULER NICHOLAS P ZITO, AGENT NICK DE MERIC, AGENT GRAND OAKS SACKATOGA STABLE CAPITAL PARTNERS MAVERICK RACING LP CARY FROMMER HARTLEY/DE RENZO HARTLEY/DE RENZO CAPITAL PARTNERS MIKE RYAN, AGENT MARETTE FARRELL, AGENT MIKE RYAN, AGENT MAVERICK RACING LP CASTLETON LYONS INC PRESTON STABLES LLC
$1,250,000 $270,000 $250,000 $230,000 $230,000 $225,000 $210,000 $200,000 $200,000 $190,000 $180,000 $180,000 $180,000 $180,000 $162,000 $160,000 $160,000 $160,000 $150,000 $150,000 $150,000 $150,000 $150,000 $150,000
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POINT OF HIP
BRIDGE OF NOSE
DOCK POINT OF BUTTOCK
POINT OF SHOULDER
STIFLE CHESTNUT GASKIN
CANNON FETLOCK PASTERN
By Georgia Rush / Talk of the Track
Written By Marion E. Altieri
CONFORMATION: More Than Just a Pretty Face When buyers of Thoroughbreds consider a horse for purchase, one of the key considerations is conformation. Conformation is the way a horse is physically put together. The bones, muscles and proportions of the animal are the characteristics that ultimately prepare them for their job— that of running quickly with great efficiency. Human beauty is relative—every culture and every individual has standards of beauty that may not jive with those of anyone else. Everyone is beautiful to somebody. This is not the case in the equine world: each breed has standards of beauty. That beauty is not superficial, but rather tied directly at the unconscious level to expectations
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for the jobs of horses within said breed. Draft horses work hard for a living: they are stocky and muscular, with thick legs and strong backs. Thoroughbreds must be able to run fast, with grace, for grace of movement actually is a factor in the science of winning races. Long, elegant strides are the domain of those who win purses, while jackrabbit runners are far-less likely to take the day. This is a most egalitarian concept: a Thoroughbred doesn’t win a race because s/he is liked better by the stewards or race announcer. No one votes on who should win—or the Triple Crown would be achieved every year. A Thoroughbred must cross the finish line first to win a race. And just as Fasig-Tipton’s elegant, renovated facilities saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
are both magnificently lovely and serve a very practical purpose—the two concepts are inextricably bound up together—concern for equine conformation also is a matter of form follows function. Whether a horse’s main function is to run fast in order to win a race or to escape predators in the wild west—its form has been “fearfully and wonderfully made” to accommodate that most basic of instincts. The machinery that gives a Thoroughbred his locomotion— the self-powered, patterned motion of limbs or other anatomical parts—is vitally essential, from the core. A horse may be appealing to the eye, but if the parts aren’t hung together in a way that facilitates smooth action and a long stride—beauty means nothing. The legs, hind end, neck, withers and abdomen all must work together like a machine, creating a rhythm that is easily maintained, right ‘til the end of the race. The runners may speed up in the stretch, but the original stride and way of moving of each horse remains essentially the same.
perfectly-conformed Thoroughbred. (The measuring stick for conformation: a perfect square should be formed by its legs, back and distance between the hooves. A distasteful thought, but if you can envision a Thoroughbred with its head cut off at the neck—that squareness, or lack thereof, will be revealed. Secretariat formed a perfect square, to the naked eye using that yardstick.) Indeed, Secretariat was as perfect as possible, and no doubt, our recent Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah, also will be discussed for his conformation for decades to come. His 5 ½ margin of victory in the Belmont Stakes (by which he won the Triple Crown) made it look easy, and his beautiful conformation had a great deal to do with the Pharoah taking his rightful place in horse racing history books. KYDerby.com
American Pharoah’s body had to be built to facilitate acceleration, speed, and ability to defy drag and gravity. These things must work together in harmony—and then, these mechanics of his biology had to work together with his focus, drive and will to win.
Conformation photos aren’t taken Many factors go into the study of horses until they enter the of conformation: yes, it’s about breeding shed, but Equicurean has musculature; skeletal structure acquired this gorgeous, “informal” and mass. But it’s the way conformation shot through which those physical attributes come we see the mighty warrior in all his together with the spirit of the buff glory. The depth and breadth Even as a foal, American Pharoah stood out horse—that one unquantifiable of his chest; his long, straight legs factor—that determines the horse’s chances of becoming a and round hind end (the engine) all work together with his champion. Energy must overcome drag, inertia and gravity, straight back, high withers (shoulders) and long, perfect and that is achieved by the mechanical workings of the neck to make a running machine that obviously propels him biological attributes of the horse. Even the fact that horses forward with power and authority. are unguligrade—they are of a class of animals who walk and Horse sales and races will continue in the months and years run on their toes—is a contributor to the relative perfection to follow American Pharoah’s Triple Crown win precisely of the animal. because this is the sport in which hope springs eternal. Of course, horses lacking excellent conformation have made monster names for themselves in the sport: Seabiscuit was small, somewhat boney and was over at the knees. The mighty Seattle Slew actually was slew-footed: when he walked, his right-front hoof turned out. He ran straight as a string, but as soon as he walked back off the track, that right hoof turned and faced East. Both Seabiscuit and Seattle Slew established themselves in the Pantheon of Thoroughbred racing, their conformational flaws notwithstanding. Secretariat, the mighty warrior who won the Belmont— and therefore, the Triple Crown—by an otherworldly 31 lengths—is considered by most to be the most saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
There may be another horse out there whose conformation comes together with pedigree and attitude to create another Triple Crown winner—and maybe this time, we won’t have to wait 37 years.
Conformation will be studied and respected as a key factor as long as horsepeople keep hope in their hearts, and science on their minds. Conformation is not the only determining factor, but it’s the first that buyers and sellers notice—and the one that has the most clout when doing the mathematics of physics, that sweet science that aids and abets the quest to win at this sport that offers more intangible rewards than any athletic endeavour on Earth.
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Written by Marion E. Altieri Photos by Dan Heary
o much has been written about the great American Pharoah. On every corner of the globe people have heard about the great horse’s Triple Crown victory. Indeed it was a long drought, between Affirmed’s 1978 Triple Crown and American Pharoah, so naturally the media (both racing and general) still are crowing about it, weeks later.
Rather than re-hash the details of the Belmont Stakes, the victory which sealed the Pharoah’s race into history books, Equicurean hopes to entertain you with some tidbits, little things that casual race fans may not know.
Sans further ado, we present Phun Phacts about the Pharoah: His debut as a yearling was slightly less-than-royal. Right here in Saratoga, at the Fasig-Tipton Yearling Sales in 2013, the unnamed Pharoah passed through the sales ring as Hip No. 85. He went virtually unnoticed, and the reserve of $300,000 was not met. Ingordo Bloodstock, acting on behalf of Hip No. 85’s breeder, Ahmed Zayat, bid the $300,000. (i.e., Zayat bought back his horse.) Good move. We’re sure that many people who overlooked the bay colt that hot night in August are kicking themselves right about now. His name contains a typo. American Pharoah was named by a 64-year-old nurse from Missouri, who participated in an online contest that Zayat Stables held in 2014 to name its crop of two-year-olds. The Jockey Club stated that Marsha Baumgartner spelled the word “Pharaoh” incorrectly in her submission, leading to American Pharoah’s name being submitted as such on the original registration paperwork. (Ms. B. told the NY Times that she’d checked the spelling before submitting…but when the paperwork was submitted to The Jockey Club, it was written as “Pharoah.”) Americans, who aren’t very talented at spelling, anyway, may never spell, “Pharaoh” correctly again… 58 | Equicurean | July 2015
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When American Pharoah won the Triple Crown, he probably heard the screaming of 90,000 wild-eyed fans as a muffled roar. His Trainer, Bob Baffert, realized early on in the king’s career, that loud noises make the sensitive horse become agitated. Initially, Pharoah sported white cotton balls in his ears, but they looked rather clinical. So Baffert purchased a set of plugs such as are used on show horses. The plugs resemble furry, brown mice. You have to look very closely in order to see them. Baffert thought the plugs would get soggy during the rain-soaked Preakness, but they actually helped keep water out of the Pharoah’s ears. A piece of his tail is missing because it was probably bitten off. The rumor is that Mr. Z., a stablemate of Pharoah’s, went Medieval on Pharoah’s tail when they were foals in a paddock. Only His Highness knows for sure. And his (possible) assailant. American Pharoah’s pedigree is beautiful. His father, Pioneer of the Nile, finished second in the 2009 Kentucky Derby, and Pioneer’s sire, Empire Maker, denied Funny Cide the Triple Crown in 2003 when Empire Maker ran in the rain to take the Belmont Stakes. His great, great grandfather, Unbridled, won the Kentucky Derby in 1990. And then of course, there’s 1973’s Triple Crown winner, Secretariat, via his extraordinary daughter, Terlingua.
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Belmont at night shortly after the Triple Crown win
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The Two Sides of ROI: Gary Contessa’s Vision of Training Juveniles, and Bettors’ Insights
Written by Marion E. Altieri Photos by ADAM Coglianese/NYRA
—Return on Investment—is commonly discussed in the business world, but virtually unknown to the casual fan of horse racing. But every day, at least one horseman and millions of bettors have it uppermost in their minds. Thoroughbred Trainer, Gary Contessa, has been a horse lover for life, and a respected member of the racing community for 30+ years. The key to his longevity is a factor that’s not discussed often in horse racing circles, primarily because it’s a bit of an unknown: ROI. ROI means, “Return on Investment,” of course, and is a major factor in business circles. The definition of ROI, according to Investopedia, is: A performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or to compare the efficiency of a number of different
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investments. To calculate ROI, the benefit (return) of an investment is divided by the cost of the investment; the result is expressed as a percentage or a ratio. The return on investment formula: ROI =
(Gain from Investment - Cost of Investment) Cost of Investment
The concept of value investing really is rather simple: see something that has potential, and acquire it before others realize the value of that wise purchase. It’s really a matter of keeping your thoughts to yourself: if you see a horse and realize that said horse has tremendous potential—don’t tell everyone else about your great find. Simply move forward: see the horse, get the horse.
This “ROI Savvy” applies in two areas of horse racing: from the perspective of Trainers and owners, and that of well-versed bettors. Here’s how it plays out: Contessa has an extraordinary eye for two-yearolds in training. So good, in fact, that he’s built his business by using his intuition to find precocious two-year-olds at sales and acquiring them for his owners, or for future investors. He’s a regular at Fasig-Tipton, OBS (Ocala) and Keeneland, where he’s known not just by name, but also by reputation and respect. Contessa buys a horse for a fair price—gently trains him as a two-year-old—races him--and either comes in in the money with him, or sells him at a profit for the horse’s owners. Or, as sometimes happens, even before a horse gets to the track, a sharp observer sees how Contessa has conditioned the horse and buys him right out of the barn. In the last 10 years, Contessa has bought over 30 horses for less than $50,000, who then were sold for high six figures after starting their racing careers. Most notably, Peace Rules was purchased at auction by Contessa for $35,000 and sold for 1000% profit before going on to finish third in the 2003 Kentucky Derby–then winning the Haskell; Blue Grass Stakes; Louisiana Derby; the Suburban–and retiring with earnings in excess of $3,000,000.
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$21.70. Though nine winners last year only tied him for eighth in the standings, the average win price of $18 ranked highest among the top 12 trainers. Since 2006, Contessa has purchased eight two-year-olds in training for low-five figures, and sold them for high-six figures. That stellar roster includes horses such as: Account For the Gold, Marquise Diamond, Barcola, Lovely Isle and National Pride. (The latter was purchased in March of 2007 for $60,000 and sold in the Fall of 2007 for high seven figures.) ROI skill is not the kind of intuition that the outside world usually associates with the sport of horse racing. In fact, most race fans—even many media insiders—traditionally think of racing intuition as that which only the fans use when approaching the betting window. (“If I bet $5 on a horse whose odds are 10-1, what will be the Return On my Investment?”) ROI is rarely considered by casual fans and media, when the discussion of Trainers and buying horses comes up. And yet, seasoned bettors do think about Contessa and ROI when they go to the windows—they just don’t talk about it with their colleagues. The Daily Racing Form, in its 2008 report on ROI for Bettors, offered this advice about Contessa:
The leading trainer in New York each of the last three years, Gary Contessa sent out 151 winners in 2006; established a new state single-season record of 159 winners in 2007, breaking Pancho Martin’s 33-year-old mark of 156; and reached the 150 plateau again in 2008. Contessa was in a four-way tie for second with 13 winners at the 2007 meet, with a healthy average win mutuel of 64 | Equicurean | July 2015
The key to playing Contessa’s horses at the Spa is to get a price. His favorites are 4 for 41 with an ROI of $0.51 the past three years, including a record of 1 for 13 last year. Contessa-trained horses don’t often win on grass, but pay handsomely when they do. Mission Approved ($70) wired the 2007 Saranac, and though Contessa was just 1 for 36 on the grass last summer, Quick Comeback ($85.50) wired a restricted claimer to keep Contessa’s turf ROI in the black at $2.41 for the past three years. Contessa is most dangerous with new acquisitions, winning at 26 percent with a $2.34 ROI through a 17-month period starting at the beginning of 2008, including French Song ($30.60) first time off a claim at Saratoga. Needless-to-say, Contessa’s intuition for recognizing early talent and developing it into monster talent, buying low/selling high for his clients—has earned him many appreciative owners and fans. He’s been cited in The Blood-Horse as the most-profitable ROI-buying trainer in the world. Every successful businessperson finds his/her niche, and ROI is that of Gary Contessa. The knowledgeable bettors of horse racing who follow Contessa’s career have studied his acquisitions; his training regimen and race placements. They know that a bet on a Contessa horse is a great investment of their betting dollars, as it’s been for 30-something years. This relationship of Trainer/horse/bettors is perhaps the most promising final turn run in the Sport of Kings.
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ow well do we know ourselves? Not as well as our horses do! And that is the lesson to be learned from Equine Gestalt Therapy, a practice that encourages us to forget the past and the future and simply live in the moment. And it’s at the core of ACTT Naturally, a nascent not-for-profit organization founded by Philadelphia native Ms. Valerie Buck - part psychologist, part visionary, one-hundred percent master horsewoman. 68 | Equicurean | July 2015
An interview with Ms.Valerie Buck By Dennis G. Hogan
Valerie’s journey began on Christmas Day, 1977, when her parents handed her the reins to Foxy Lady, an Arabian - Welsh Pony cross they purchased from family friend Walt Flowers. “I don’t know where I’d be if not for that horse. I had no real idea what I wanted to do with my life, though as the years went by I came to realize that working with horses was the right place for me. “I was 17 when I started at Keystone Racetrack in 1983. I worked for Mark Reid, and his assistant John Servis, who went on to train Smarty Jones. I hot walked there for a summer then started riding lead ponies for the afternoon races. This led me to Garden State, and to Monmouth Park. There I worked for Gary Contessa, who allowed me to jog some of his horses. I worked very hard in those days: jogging Thoroughbreds in the mornings and ponying in the afternoons - more than anything, I wanted to gallop race horses. “Kiaran McLaughlin was the assistant to D. Wayne Lukas at Monmouth, and I asked him if there were any opportunities to work for Wayne out in California. “The next day Kiaran said, ‘I talked to them. Get out there as soon as you can.’ “I was nervous to tell Gary the news but when I did he said, ‘If you have the opportunity you should take it.’ He handed me 600.00 to help pay for my trip, and that was so kind. “In California I worked for Randy Bradshaw, who I thank to this day. I owe him for everything I’ve become. He was a great teacher, a great horseman and like a second dad to all of us out there. “And working for Wayne was a far cry from some of the places I’d worked in the past; he can be very meticulous. “I remember one day I walked into the barn around 5 a.m. He’d been waiting for us girls to show up and when we did he came charging at us with a copy of the Blood-Horse magazine in his hands. He was on the cover, and in the background the brow bands for the bridles weren’t all straight and he yelled at us (laughs). Wayne changed the industry in many ways; people were paying millions of dollars for horses and he wanted to make sure the barn areas were nice places for them to visit. PHOTOS BY SHARON CASTRO
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PHOTO BY SHARON CASTRO
PHOTO BY DGHPHOTO
Valerie Buck and 2007 Belmont Stakes winner Rags To Riches PHOTO BY BRYAN SMITH
“I rode Spain, Cat Thief, Proud Citizen, Orientate, Charismatic, and many more. It was a privilege to sit atop such nice horses. I got paid to do something I loved and never once felt like I was at work. “Eventually, I came back East and worked for Bill Mott, and several of the trainers that came up through Wayne’s barn: Todd Pletcher, Mark Hennig, Dallas Stewart, to name a few. “Most of the time it was pure fun - a real adrenaline rush. Those horses were all heart and desire and when you stepped on the gas they gave you everything they had. It was really amazing - though not for the weak of heart. “You can’t be scared. You must be focused and paying attention at all times; at the drop of a hat they can explode: spook, rear up or flip over backwards. At Monmouth Park, I once went down at top speed and the horse rolled over me. I fractured my clavicle, three vertebrae and a few ribs.
Valerie with trainers Bill Mott, Gary Contessa and Todd Pletcher
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“In 2009, one morning at Saratoga I took a tumble and broke my neck; I was never one-hundred percent again. The last racehorse I rode was in 2011; on that day I broke my ankle and knew it was time to leave.”
STARTING ANEW… Valerie’s life changed once she hung up her tack. No longer at the track exercising Thoroughbreds 24/7, she began a chapter highlighted by new experiences and broadened horizons. “I had to slow down, which is funny to say because I kept incredibly busy. “I’d been supplying the horses for Saratoga WarHorse, a program that places off-track Thoroughbreds and military veterans together in a round pen. The hope being that through such experiences the vets would release some of the emotions locked inside them and learn to trust again. “I also began to explore the practice of natural horsemanship. I had a horse that got injured in a trailer and I couldn’t get him to go back in so I reached out to Bob Duncan. Bob used to be the head starter for NYRA, and he was into Parelli Natural Horsemanship. We worked with this horse for a few weeks and I was so impressed with the progress we made. “I became involved with the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, and volunteered at Old Friends, and Peaceful Acres, all sanctuaries for retired Thoroughbreds. And by using natural horsemanship methods I saw how much the horses benefitted. It also helped me become more at peace with my self - and I wanted to share that with others.
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“I was looking for a spot within an organization where I could work with off-track Thoroughbreds, and I also wanted to help women who were dealing with emotional issues — sort of like the way Saratoga WarHorse was helping the veterans. In 2012, I began ACTT Naturally. ACTT stands for ‘aftercare continued Thoroughbred training.’ “In 2013, we received our 501(c) not-for-profit status and things haven’t stopped since. I was contacted by Paul and Arlene Lotters, the owners of Long Shadows Farm, in Cambridge, New York. They learned of the program and offered me the opportunity to lease their facility. “We currently have 12 horses, nine of them are retired Thoroughbreds. There’s also cats and chickens; you name it – I’ve brought a lot of life to this farm. I also do dog rescue at my home. “Our mission is to help Thoroughbreds transition from a life at the track and to advocate for the fact that they’re horses and not ‘crazy’ Thoroughbreds. They take a bit of work but it’s a puzzle. When a horse is acting unfavorably I just say, ‘hmmm, that’s interesting. Now why are you doing that?’ And then I’ll say, ‘how can I communicate to this horse so that he understands what I’m asking him to do?’”
PHOTOS BY SHARON CASTRO
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PHOTO BY SHARON CASTRO
THE PROCESS… ACTT’s website heralds numerous success stories: mainly horses that have come off the racetrack to lead new lives as therapy horses. Success takes time and there’s a steep learning curve before these animals become comfortable in their new environments and with their new tasks. “They need to become horses again and that means returning them to the herd.” Explained Valerie. “For a horse to come off the racetrack where every surface is flat and they’ve spent a majority of their time in a stall - it’s a huge change. At first, they don’t want to be touched - some don’t even want you to look at them; so I leave them alone for awhile. I give them all the time they need and wait for them to come to me. “Within a month or so they’ve taken a deep breath and start to come around. And they’re sort of like the veterans: they’ve lived on someone else’s schedule, under somebody else’s rules, geared forward and task oriented - then suddenly: nothing. Our actions define us and when they take a radical change we’re all left to wonder ‘where am I?’
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“We work with them and build a new foundation: we have them stepping on a tarp or over poles, and there’s a pedestal we get them to step onto and over - these are all new experiences for them. And we don’t ride them until after a ton of ground work. “The intention is to move horses with our energy and focus, so we work with just a lead rope. If you think about it, a horse in a field can feel a fly upon him so why would one need saddles or bridles or bits to communicate? “If a horse’s lead line is on the ground and we pick it up, we’ve entered into a conversation with that horse, and one has to be sensitive as to what they’re saying; you can be very rude with that rope in your hand. “We want our horses to learn, and Parelli Natural Horsemanship states that ‘pressure motivates while release teaches.’ So we put pressure on them and when they figure things out we release the pressure. This way they learn and get to a point where they are good partners - only then are they ready to become therapy horses.”
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In the round pen PHOTO BY SHARON CASTRO
A HUMAN TOUCH… It’s one thing to retrain horses though Valerie claims horses can retrain people. At ACTT Naturally, there are human success stories as well. “They are so intuitive. They know how we’re feeling and there’s no lying to them. Horses know the truth. “As people we stifle our emotions. We put unpleasant things in a box and hide it away. And this causes all kinds of side effects: we become irritable or filled with sorrow or guilt; the list goes on and on. Though to be healthy our emotions must remain in motion; we must keep them flowing and make time for grief. And when you work with therapy horses something happens that allows you to open that box and get your emotions flowing again. “I’ll put an off-track Thoroughbred in a person’s hand and say, ‘you’re going to go play with this horse.’ Now they’ve got a thousand-pound animal in their hand and they’ve got to do something about it - and that takes courage. “Women who are shy need to get a bit louder to move that horse out of their space while others must learn to be quieter. It’s a balance: not too loud or too quiet; everyone must find their center. They can then incorporate these techniques into their daily lives and become more confident in themselves.” 76 | Equicurean | July 2015
Participant ‘A’s Success Story: “I’m a three-time cancer survivor and I struggle daily with anxiety, depression, fatigue and the lasting effects of chemotherapy. A huge sense of freedom and confidence was taken from me when I received those cancer diagnoses. “I was in the round pen with Whiskey, the horse. The instructor asked me questions and I began talking about all the sorrow I have tucked inside and how I have little room for anything else. “Whiskey stood firm and watched me out of the corner of his eye; I could almost feel him understanding and listening to me. I took some deep breaths and Whiskey turned and walked toward me. He stopped and let out a huge sigh. “He only responded to me once I was relaxed; after I had taken those deep breaths. I was living in the present with that horse and not thinking about the past or my future: thoughts that normally give me anxiety and tension. “Through the round pen sessions I’ve learned to live in the present and it’s given me hope. These horses have an amazing power and calmness that they share with those that let them.”
Participant ‘B’s Success Story: “I was dealing with divorce, the loss of my animals and a family tragedy - all within a short period of time. “In my session I was talking about the issues troubling me while walking in a circle and the horse was following me around with his nose right behind my neck. When I stopped he came around and stood in front of me, lowered his head and rested it upon my heart. He was so in tune with what I was going through. “Horses are energy readers and they act in specific ways depending upon the energy we give out. And because they read us so clearly they help us read ourselves. When someone is in darkness these pieces of information can help us gain a better picture of where we are. “I feel stronger and I’ve learned to be happy again. I’ve realized it’s a choice that comes from within.” saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
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PHOTO BY SHARON CASTRO
Julie now lives in California, raising her nine-year-old daughter Lorelei, alongside her husband, Daily Racing Form columnist Jay Hovdey.
Valerie and Julie Krone PHOTO BY CHRIS BEMIS, SOJOURNERWEB STUDIO
IN THE PRESENT AND MOVING FORWARD… Valerie took me on a tour of Long Shadows Farm. As we coursed over paths and across verdant meadows she described her vision for the facility. “We have 165 acres, five miles of well-groomed trails and three fully-stocked ponds. I’d like to fence-in these fields and put the horses on pasture, which will save me a bundle on hay. We also hope to build more obstacles and possibly hire someone full time. “My long-term goal is to create a women’s wellness center where we can do mind, body and spiritual work: cranial sacral therapy, yoga, nutritional counseling, etc. I’d like Long Shadows to be a destination in itself.” Currently, ACTT Naturally’s board members include Kristina Dallas, DVM; Katrina Clay, publisher of the Healing Springs Journal; and long-time friend and fan favorite, Hall of Fame Jockey Julie Krone. Julie and Valerie’s friendship dates back to their days at Monmouth Park, when Valerie was ponying Thoroughbreds to the gate and Julie was guiding them home. “Julie’s a master,” said Valerie. “When she was in the post parade warming up her horses she was creating a relationship with them. She’d go to the barns in the morning and get on those horses when she didn’t have to. And that’s what made her stand out – that’s what made her the best.” 78 | Equicurean | July 2015
“It’s so beautiful to be able to give back to others,” explained Julie. “We all need to spend more time with nature and regenerate our emotions and it seems both of those things are last on our list. Everyone deserves a chance to be progressive in their life, and horses bring so much goodness out of people. Sometimes it’s the catalyst that sends them ahead.”
FINDING ‘CENTER’… Valerie and I stepped out of the ATV as my tour of Long Shadows ended. She spotted a baby turtle attempting to negotiate the open road. “Well look at this little guy! I’ll bring him down to the pond.” She said. It was clear she’s perfect for this task and vocation. “I’ve just always loved animals. It’s not something I do - it’s just who I am. They don’t care if you look funny or what color your skin is; unconditional love is what they have to give. “When I was a young girl and something bad would happen my mom knew where to find me – in the stall with that pony. So many people are denied the opportunity to understand what love is but they can be around a dog or horse and come to know its meaning – and that is truly wonderful. “My heart grows bigger every time I send one of these dogs off to a new home or when someone comes here and I see their face change by the end of the day. “And to leave a legacy in which I’ve helped better the lives of these animals and to give that help to people as well. Well, it’s pretty cool.”
To learn more about Valerie Buck and ACTT Naturally, please visit www.acttnaturally.org saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
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Artist Brian T. Fox:
Paint + Truth = Visionary Art
WRITTEN BY MARION E. ALTIERI
rian Fox and his wife took a leap of faith 10 years ago, a leap from the known (his secure job as a commercial artist) to a place that felt like stepping outside the International Space Station without a tether. They had no idea how Brian was going to make it as an artist—a painter, they knew in their hearts only that this was how it was supposed to be. Anyone who makes a leap like that experiences struggles at first, and many never see fruits for their faith and labors. But the art world did eventually see Fox’s profound talent, and soon he was getting commissions. Ten years later, he’s hanging with rock stars and actors; professional athletes and owners of sports teams. Yes,
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he’s invited to soirees and premiers with celebrated people, but not simply because those people like his company. He’s there because he’s respected for his talents—for his generosity toward worthy causes—and because, simply, when Fox paints an eye—that eye shows the soul of his subject. Whether that eye belongs to Seattle Slew, American Pharoah, Curlin or others in the Thoroughbred Pantheon; Derek Jeter, Jackie Robinson or Gronk (Rob Gronkowski) or rock legends, Steven Tyler, Eddie Vedder and Bono—the eye still is the one thing that tells the story of the soul behind. All living beings have this in common, and Fox paints his way into the innermost workings of every soul he paints. saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
“There’s no artist more visceral than Brian Fox. Brian singlehandedly captured Curlin’s crowning achievement, and made it as vivid on canvas as the night Curlin became World Champion. Both Brian and Curlin have one thing in common— they’re brilliant!” - Christopher Jackson, Stonestreet Farms Johnny Depp’s red-rimmed eye as Captain Jack Sparrow, and those of Keith Richard, reveal lives of squander, while those of athletes may show sorrow, despair or grit. And of course, the horses who grace Fox’s canvases have eyes that show, each in their own way, the might and drive of a Champion—all the while, conveying the kindness that every horse lover knows so well. Fox’s works are in the personal collections of horse racing’s Jackson family, and Bill Casner. Of New England Patriots’ owner, Robert Kraft; Russian President, Vladimir Putin; Steven Tyler and athletes, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Tom Brady. But approval by famous people is not the confirmation that an artist is gifted: scores of people who may not be renowned recognize the eternal value of real art, as plied by a talent such as Fox’s. In other words: like the eye of a living being, the human soul’s search for Beauty and Truth in Art is a universal quest. Upon seeing a painting that goes straight to the heart, that heart craves more of that Truth, and Brian Fox indeed is a Truth-bearer. Fox’s works can be viewed this racing season in Siro’s green room. For more information or to contact Fox, check out his social media: www.brianfoxstudios. com , Twitter: @briantfox and Instagram ARTIST_BRIANFOX
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National Museum of
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PHOTOS BY MARK BOLLES
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f you are a fan of anything equine, make sure to visit the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame; No trip to the Spa City is complete without it!
Established in 1950, the museum’s mission is to interpret the history and convey the excitement of Thoroughbred racing in America to the broadest possible audience. The Museum fosters education and understanding of Thoroughbred racing by providing public access to equine art, artifacts, memorabilia, film, video, books and historical archives. The Museum collects, preserves, researches, interprets and exhibits the entire spectrum of Thoroughbred racing, enhanced by interactive displays. Further, the Museum is the Official National Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame honoring horses, trainers, jockeys and Pillars of the Turf.
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National Museum of
RACING & Hall of Fame ADDRESS
191 Union Ave., Saratoga Springs NY 12866 (518)584-0400 www.racingmuseum.org
MUSEUM HOURS Racing Season Daily 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Adults Students Senior Citizens (55 and older) Children 5 and under Members
$7.00 $5.00 $5.00 Free Free
NYRA employees (Please show NYRA identification). Hall of Fame members Active United States military personnel and their accompanying family members. (Proper military identification is required). Museum Members. (Please show membership card). Members of the NY Thoroughbred Breeders with membership card/pin Members of AMA (American Museum Association) with card Saratoga Polo members. (Please show your lanyard).
AAA Discount Buy one, get one free on adult admissions ($7) Buy one, get one free with Downtown Business Association Card During the racing season
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National Museum of
RACING & Hall of Fame MOVIE SCHEDULE Race America will be shown in the Hall of Fame Wednesday - Monday at 10 and 11 a.m. and on Tuesdays at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saratoga 150 will be shown daily in the Hall of Fame at 12 p.m. Live simulcast of races at Saratoga Race Course is shown in the Hall of Fame on racing days from 2 to 5 p.m.*
RIDE THE HORSE RACING SIMULATOR The racing simulator is a mechanical horse synchronized to move with jockey cam videos. The simulator will enable our visitors to mount up and experience a jockey’s point of view. There are three levels of difficulty: Warm Up, Apprentice, and Jockey. We provide a unique experience that will allow the rider to appreciate a few of the qualities required to be a jockey. However, the ride is physically demanding and is not suitable for everyone. IN ORDER TO USE THE SIMULATOR A VISITOR MUST: Sign a release Buy a ticket ($5.00 with a paid museum admission members ride free) Be at least 48” tall Demonstrate the ability to mount the non-motorized equicizer Wear appropriate clothing - no open-toed shoes are allowed.
Jockey Jerry Bailey aboard the racing simulator. The racing simulator is a mechanical horse, synchronized to move with jockey-cam videos. It allows visitors to mount up and experience the thrill of racing from the jockey's point of view.
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VISITORS SHOULD NOT RIDE IF THEY: Have a bad back, neck, or bone condition Are pregnant Have had recent surgery or illness Have heart trouble Have high blood pressure
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JOHN A. MORRIS RESEARCH LIBRARY The John A. Morris Research Library houses over 5,000 monographs and serials concerning thoroughbred racing in the United States and aboard. Biographies, racing manuals, and stud books are included in the collection, along with issues from the Blood-Horse, Daily Racing Form Chart Books, and the Thoroughbred Times. The Library also holds numerous research files and archival materials on artists, horses (particularly Hall of Famers) jockeys, trainers, racetracks and other people in the horse racing industry.
PHOTOGRAPHS The National Museum of Racing houses over 15,000 photographic images that are separate from the general research collection. All photograph inquiries must be emailed to the Curator at nmrcollections@ racingmuseum.net.
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30 Years of the Travers
he newest exhibit at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame celebrates the 30th anniversary of renowned artist Greg Montgomery’s famed Travers Stakes poster series.
Greg Montgomery: 30 Years of the Travers includes each of Montgomery’s 30 Travers Stakes posters from the inaugural work in 1986 through the 30th anniversary edition, “Crossing Union.” Along with the Travers posters, the exhibit features unique silk-screens of Montgomery’s Travers pieces, as well as additional racing artwork, supporting materials and the stories that inspired the iconic collection.
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A native of Washington, D.C., Montgomery received his formal training at the University of New Mexico and The College of Saint Rose in Albany, N.Y. His series of Travers Stakes posters is the longest continuing series of art featuring a single event by a single artist in racing history. Montgomery has worked as an art director for General Electric and Capital Region magazine, as well as design editor for the Albany (N.Y.) Times Union. Montgomery has done numerous commissioned works throughout his career, including 40 covers for the Dick Francis mystery novels. In 2008, he published the book “The History and Art of 25 Travers” along with writer Vic Zast. Montgomery’s work has been displayed in numerous galleries and exhibitions and is in the permanent collection of the Library of Congress. The Travers poster series was inspired by the rich history of the Travers Stakes, the first race contested on Saratoga Race Course’s opening day Aug. 2, 1864. Named in
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honor of William R. Travers, the first president of the Saratoga Association, the inaugural Travers Stakes was won by future Hall of Fame member Kentucky, a horse Travers owned in partnership. One of the most prestigious races in America, the Travers has been won by racing immortals such as Hall of Famers Man o’ War, Hindoo, Twenty Grand, Eight Thirty, Native Dancer, Sword Dancer, Buckpasser, Damascus, Easy Goer, Holy Bull and Point Given. The 146th running of the Travers is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 29 at Saratoga Race Course.
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And... he’s... off! Larry Collmus Takes the Reins as NYRA’s New Race Announcer Written by Marion E. Altieri Photos By ADAM Coglianese/NYRA
ne would think that, after calling the first Triple Crown victory in 37 years…there’s nothing left to anticipate. Larry Collmus sees it—and feels it—differently. For race announcer, Larry Collmus, 2015 has been a year of firsts: on April 1st, he walked into the announcer’s booth to call his first races at Aqueduct. He’d been tapped to step into Tom Durkin’s enormous emotional shoes, and become NYRA’s new race announcer. That assignment would be daunting for anyone— Durkin’s a legend, and beloved by all--but fortunately so far, 2015 has been too busy for Collmus to sit and think. For 30 years, he’s honed his God-given talents as a race announcer. (And most of us cannot imagine what it takes
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to announce one race, never mind make a career of it. A nerve-shattering job, if ever there was one. Add to that the pressure of calling major races like the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup races. No, race announcing is not a job for the shy, the intellectually dull or the faint-of-heart.) This year of firsts began with his new gig with NYRA. Then, on the First Saturday in May, he began the journey with American saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
Pharoah toward glory, when Collmus called Pharoah’s Kentucky Derby victory. Two weeks later, their connection deepened, as Collmus announced Pharoah’s delighted romp and win of the Preakness by seven wildly-impressive lengths. Now the pressure must have been on, as NYRA’s new announcer was highlighted in the media, almost as often as was the Triple Crown contender. Surely Collmus received so many questions about the Belmont Stakes—what it would be like?—how did he feel?—that anyone else probably would have snapped. But Collmus kept his cool, all through the Belmont Stakes Week media events. He was in the public’s eye, but he handled it with great aplomb. Then, on June 6th, he became the announcer whose voice broke the 37-year-old dry spell when he gave his emotional report, “…and here it is! The 37-year wait is over! American Pharoah is finally The One!!! American Pharoah—has won the Triple Crown!!!!” The build-up to that moment was tremendous: this was the moment for which the racing world had been waiting for over three-and-a-half decades. Collmus was only 11 when Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978. Seven years later, at the tender age of 18, he called his first race, and knew this vocation was his to claim. It was his destiny to walk that journey with American Pharoah, and be The Voice that called him first over the finish line three perfect times in a row. One would think that Larry Collmus now has Done it All, that there’s nothing to which to look forward. May as well pack it up; retire and head to Hudson Bay and hibernate for the winter. Fortunately for race fans, Collmus doesn’t see it that way. No doubt, the Triple Crown trail was his most glorious job—so far. But he has a different take on it:
But apples and oranges: That was an otherworldly race experience, Saratoga is a place. A magical place, at that. For 40 hot, steamy, crazy days this summer, the eyes of the horse racing world will be on this 350-acre patch of land within the city limits of Saratoga Springs, New York. For 40 days, some of the world’s greatest Thoroughbreds will live here, race here, become the stuff of memories. And every one of those memories will begin with “One day in Saratoga…” when we re-tell the tales. Larry Collmus will become part of the lore and stories that are told about Saratoga. It makes sense that, no, the Triple Crown experience didn’t signal the end of his race announcing dreams. How many people do you know who, by their presence and contributions, become part of the very fabric of a place that’s almost mythological in its essence and importance? Collmus has a gift, a talent that he was born to share. That he was born to share it with the New York racing circuit as our new race announcer—as our new Voice of Saratoga—that, too, is a gift, of heavenly proportions.
Welcome to our New York racing community, Larry. Welcome to Saratoga.
“It’s been pretty terrific, especially considering the fact that, two months into it, I got to call the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 37 years. So, so far—so good. I can’t imagine a better beginning than that. People have asked me, ‘After calling the Triple Crown, what do you have to look forward to?’ and I respond, ‘Saratoga!’” Yes, Saratoga. Like many insightful race fans, Collmus sees Saratoga as being the Mecca of horse racing. He’s come here as a fan for many years, and 14 years ago, he actually called races here as a fill-in. As this article is being written, Collmus eagerly awaits the morning that he awakens and knows that, that day, he will announce the races at SARATOGA. It may seem odd, that announcing races here could in any way compare with that of calling the one, single race that changed horse racing. The Belmont Stakes, 2015, was one for the history books, and Larry Collmus is very much a part of that history. Forever his name will be linked with that of American Pharoah and the day that the spell was broken. saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
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