It was August 3rd, 1863 when gambler, casino owner, ex-boxer, and future congressman John Morrissey organized the first thoroughbred meet in Saratoga. It was one month after the Battle of Gettysburg, and was held over four days at the old dirt track on Union Avenue. Over 5,000 people attended to watch, and wager on eight races.
After the success of this meet Morrissey was inspired to expand further with this new gambling venture. With the help of some wealthy friends, including Leonard Jerome, and William Travers, they formed the Saratoga Racing Association. This newly formed group quickly purchased 125 acres of land on the other side of Union Avenue, and built a new grandstand. Saratoga Race Course had been sired.
It is considered the 3rd longest- running race track in America, but by many accounts it is thought to be the oldest organized sporting venue of any kind in the country.
Saratoga is known throughout the world. The name evokes so many images: the elegance, and pageantry of the worlds oldest sport, the regally-bred horses (and owners)- the untold riches of royals, captains of industry, and rock stars who participate as owners, breeders and fans.
The real stars, of course, are the animals. Only the best horses in their respective divisions dare to come compete at the historic race course and test their mettle at The Spa. This Friday, July 20th begins the 155th meet at Saratoga. Be sure to come on back to DRB as we’ll make some daring opening day picks.