The curtain has come down.
The Saratoga race meet is over.
Tom Durkin has left the building.
For all intents and purposes, now it is the Autumn Racing Season, and with it come Belmont, Keeneland, Breeders' Cup, etc.
So today's the first day of going back to Business as Usual. No more sultry Saratoga nights. No more parties, and running into friends I haven't seen in years.
No more gentle amusement every time I hear Lily, the pygmy goat, bleat.
No more gentleness, at all. As the camaraderie of the backstretch and Lily's plaintive requests for attention slip away with the last Summer breezes, we begin to hunker down for Winter.
Autumn is the transition time, that gracious space in-between the blood-boiling heat of Summer's many lusty conquests and the same blood, freezing dead-still in your veins.
Along with the bright orange, red and yellow leaves and the crisp Autumn air comes the b***h-slap of Reality. And today that Reality beat me out of my nostalgia for Saratoga, and headlong into the painful realization that the Suffragist movement hasn't yet made it to American horse racing, for we women get virtually NO vote. And you know it's true...
It's taken me weeks to write this article, chiefly because writing about AmDubai Racing Stable and the two people at its core is a far-more complicated task than merely whipping up a profile of a Trainer and his/her horse.
Anyone who can answer the questions,Who/What/When/Where/Why/How can write a profile.
But Trainers Seth Benzel and his partner, Trainer Joanna Patejuk aren't surface people. To write about what they're doing--why they're doing it--and their five-year plan requires a tool that I''m going to call a soul microscope. I don't want to tell you just what they're doing, but Where, and Why.
And my observation is that the Where and Why are deeper than that which merely meets the eye, or the pages of a turf magazine...
Two can't-miss screenings in one:
Secretariat's Jockey, Ron Turcotte and Penny and Red, the Life of Secretariat's Owner
THIS Sunday (August 24) at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. VIP reception prior with Secretariat's jockey, Ron Turcotte and other racing celebrities.
The evening will benefit two wonderful, worthy organizations: the Secretariat Center at the Kentucky Horse Park--founded by Penny Chenery, herself--and my favorite museum in the world, the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
6PM, VIP Reception
7PM, Screenings, Q&A
Tickets are $50 for VIP reception and screenings, $20 for screenings alone.
Get your tickets ASAP, folks. This is the only Saratoga/upstate New York screening of these two extraordinary films.
For more information:
National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame:
For more information, and to purchase tickets:
Be there, or be forced to listen to your friends talk about it for the entire next month.
A thought came to me a few minutes ago, and it's something I really must pursue. If you're up to it, come along for the journey...
I'm a big believer in supporting anyone who helps animals. Quaintance House Animal Protective League is one of the most-worthy of your donations and admiration.
The organization's second annual "It's Raining Cats & Dogs" event in Saratoga will be held tomorrow evening (August 15th), and I wish I could attend, but can't...
On Saturday I had the privilege of hanging in the Saratoga (Race Course) backstretch with two friends: a dear grrrlfriend and her horse-loving, 10-year-old daughter. (I'm not giving their names, because they know their names and you don't need to.)
My friend and I sat in our lawn chairs near our picnic table in the hour-or-so before the races, and her little one sat at the table, her back to the track. Her back was toward the track, but in front of her lie the pony stalls and scores of barns. The constant clip-clop of horses walking all around filled the air: outriders on their ponies, horses walking to the paddock. And the neighing and nickering of all of those beautiful, sublime creatures.
And our little friend? She was fiddling with her Mother's iPhone, joyously seeking something. She found it! Happily, she held aloft the phone and showed us: "Look! A picture of a horse!"
It seems that I have but three moods: pensive, pithy and pithed-off.
The thing that's making me both pensive and pithed-off this morning is the reality that the facts about horse racing in America are greatly exaggerated. The Internet can be a terrible thing, and when hyper-emotional people are fed even the smallest nugget of half-truths--that small thing becomes so distorted that the original Truth no longer is visible, or even recognizable.
Obviously, I have nothing against being emotional. I'm one of the most emotional people on the planet--especially when animals are concerned. I cry when I kiss a horse. I cry when my cat snuggles up to me after she's beaten me up with great satisfaction painted all over her lovely orange face. I laugh heartily, often to the point of breathlessness. And yes, I've been in love.
When I refer to "hyper-emotional" people--and God KNOWS I hate to generalize like this, especially against my own gender--but I've observed that the overboarding is on the part of a middle-aged woman who has a basically good heart, but who needs to Get A Life.
Case in point: whereas even 15 years ago, gossips depended on the phone or neighborhood chats to spread misinformation and unjustified rage--today, the one-billion-strong neighborhood of Facebook makes it possible to spread anger, lies and accusations like a contagion. Perhaps the place should be renamed, Facebola...
It was a Hell of a day. And by "Hell," I do mean, Hell.
First I had a car accident, not my fault. The wench hit me, knocked off the front left fender of my car and drove away. Fast.
I was on my way to the track, actually to visit Trainer, Abigail Adsit. I wanted just to give her a hug, then to beat it out of her barn. I didn't want to bug her, just to show some support for the Hell she'd been going through since the horrible incident yesterday. As most of you know by now, her horse, Lavender Road, started a journey yesterday that ended in her return to Heaven today. It's too long a story, and too complicated--and way too sad--so I'll just ask you to Google it.
I'd heard reports both that Lavender had fractured neck vertebrae and that she had brain damage. Somewhere in their are the facts. Oh, yes, and internal heat stroke played a role.
The end result was that the beautiful First Defence (Unbridled's Song) f!lly, out of a Grand Slam mare--had to be humanely euthanized today. I wasn't there, but I know that she was surrounded by Abigail and others who love her...
If you're in Saratoga this weekend, and in the near-future, you have a rare opportunity, indeed.
Unlike horse racing fans in New York City--Long Island--Western New York or the Southern Tier--you can go to the movies, and see "50-to-1," the beautiful film about Kentucky Derby winner, Mine That Bird.
I think it's interesting that Saratoga is the only place where the film will be shown. Of course, this is a horse racing town, and this is the meet with more Grade 1 races than any other track on Earth.
That translates to kabillions of horse race fans swarming like fleas on a dog into the streets of Saratoga Springs at the end of every racing day. (Hence my aversion for downtown Saratoga during racing season. I don't do crowds. Of humans.)
But you, my friends--you have the golden opportunity before you to catch this lush film before it moseys out of town...
Tomorrow evening, Thursday, July 31, the New York Division of the Race Track Chaplaincy of America, will host their annual basketball game in Saratoga.
Admission is free--there's really no excuse for race fans not to attend and support the efforts of this wonderful group...