There is simply nothing like opening day at Saratoga Race Course.
No other occasion is so filled with color and hope, ambition and chance, all of it reflected in the high shine of horses’ coats and the gemlike gleam of the silks.
No place so perfectly combines aesthetic splendor with the fine-tuned equine athletes. The iconic clubhouse roofline and infield gazebo lend a timeless air of pageantry.
The architecture may be Queen Anne, but the swooping turrets and fluttering flags lend the feel that you’ve landed in the midst of a medieval tournament, only instead of heavy-hoofed chargers and jousting knights, the contestants are lean thoroughbreds bearing brave hard riders.
The trainers flick their stopwatches, while the owners’ feet hover a hair’s breadth off the ground.
It is all so very transporting.
Legendary sports scribe Red Smith once wrote on how to get to Saratoga; “From New York City you drive north for about 175 miles, turn left on Union Avenue and go back 100 years.”
It seems a truth universally acknowledged that Saratoga is the finest racetrack in the US, a little piece of nirvana that beguiles the head and the heart, the soul and the spirit.
Some may scoff, and claim it’s just a racetrack in upstate New York with one 40-day meet every summer. But it is so much more than that to all those who come under its spell.
So as you enter the grounds of Saratoga Race Course this year (opening day or otherwise) go slow.
Breath deep, take a long slow look at the historical surroundings and take a step back.
It doesn’t need to be 100 years back, but to a time when society wasn’t as crazy as it is presently.
Then smile and know, that at least temporarily, everything is right with the world. May the spirit of The Spa carry the day.
Thursday, July 14th is Opening Day. Post Time 1:05
Riders Up !