Last Saturday, I made my annual trip to Saratoga Race Track in upstate New York to enjoy a day at the races. It is a time for re-connecting with old friends, enjoying family, people watching, enjoying food and beverages and, of course, watching the horses. An August day at Saratoga is a great fan experience. The feature race that day was the Alabama Stakes.
Saratoga Race Course, “The Track” is one of the most charming racetracks in the country. It was named as one of the “Top 10 Sporting Venues” by Sports Illustrated Magazine and is one of horse racing’s most beloved tracks. It has a unique combination of historical ambience, modern-day amenities and of course style. It is the oldest racetrack in the United States.
This summer Saratoga Race Course is celebrating its 150th anniversary. In 1863, two horsemen decided that it was time to expand Saratoga’s appeal, and the way to do that was to create a permanent racetrack in America. Know as the “Graveyard of Champions,” Saratoga Race Course has earned a reputation for being a challenging track for favorites. In fact, the famous horse Man O’ War lost a race here.
Saratoga has many traditions that add to the overall experience of a day at the races. One tradition is that anyone coming to the track early, just after 7:00am can reserve a picnic table by putting their articles on that table. 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. Prime tables in the picnic area are in demand especially on a Saturday. Coolers are allowed. The picnic area is a lot of fun and is the way I choose to spend my day at the track. You are also able to watch the horses being led to the paddock. Another tradition is that you can “reserve” a bench seat with a newspaper or program.
The early morning is a spectacular time at the track. It is not crowded and you can watch many horses go through their training runs.
Saratoga Springs is located 35 miles north of Albany and 180 miles north of Manhattan. In addition to the races, Saratoga is host to many summer activities including the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga National Historical Park and a variety of museums.
Have you been to Saratoga Race Track?