Saratoga Horse Racing

Women + Thoroughbreds = Power: Women's Day, 2009.

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Marion Photo Cakes with Show Me the Cash!.JPGIt is a supreme joy to be able to report that on Wednesday, August 19th, Saratoga Race Course will host the fourth annual Women's Day to honor the gender that is the majority of the fanbase of Thoroughbred racing.  The event it co-sponsored by NYRA (New York Racing Association) and B95.5 (Albany Broadcasting).   Enthusiastic moral support is offered by Saratoga Publishing (Saratoga TODAY newspaper; The Saratoga Experience magazine) and www.Saratoga.com.

2009 is the first year that the event will offer the Racing Vocations table, a booth womaned by females of all stripes who work in and around the magnificent sport of Thoroughbred horse racing.  Jockeys, trainers, farriers, veterinarians, owners, grooms, hotwalkers, exercise riders, pari-mutuel tellers, writers, artists and administrators of the female kind are invited come together to speak one-on-one with women and girls about the joys, frustrations and victories of their jobs.  Horsewomen, Sara Dunham of All Play Stable, Kate O'Brien Veitch, Nina Miskiewicz and Ronnie Betor; Artist, Rumara Jewett; and Jockey, Maylan Studart are just a few of those who are expected to spend time at the booth and meet girls and women who drop by...

The road to a career in Thoroughbred racing has not always been a walk in the park for women:   manyThumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Rachel Alexandra Beautiful Head Shot Cathy Duffy.JPG have had a rough time of it as they strove to carve out vocations in this sport. Others have been blessed to find no resistance to their (our) presence at the track.  But too many had to fight tooth-and-nail for their rightful place in the shedrow, oval or boardroom.

Hall of Fame Jockey Julie Krone could tell you stories that will curl your hair--and her story will, indeed, be told.  Two strong, smart women (Director Katherine Brooks and Producer, Sophie Watts) have been in Saratoga for several days, scouting locations for their film, "The Boys' Club."  The film documents the contentious, often bloody resistance that Krone experienced on her path to history.  She was the first female member of the Racing Hall of Fame, and the only woman therein until August 14, 2009.  That statistic, alone, gives rise to many questions about continued outdated attitudes in the sport:  the fact that only one woman was a member of the Hall of Fame until August, 2009--and she was inducted only in 2000--gives one pause.

Many wonderful men have been staunch supporters of females among their ranks, and weThumbnail image for Ronnie Marion Jean Cruguet 2007.JPG celebrate those gentlemen with gratitude and joy:  Leroy Jolley, D. Wayne Lukas, Thumbnail image for d wayne lukas3.jpgTodd Pletcher, John Pricci, Steve Haskin, Allen Jerkens and Jean Cruguet are among the throng of males who have welcomed women into their literal and figurative shedrows over the years.  Others were not quite as welcoming, and some still have a difficult time wrapping their heads around the notion of working shoulder-to-shoulder with females among their ranks.  Others may be outright misogynists.  I feel sorry for them, for they're missing fully 51% of the joy of life--and the camaraderie of colleagues who have much to offer.

We respect those men who love women truly, and respect us for what we bring to the table.  We womyn who love this sport and who work within it choose to celebrate the great men whose level heads and egalitarian hearts, such as the fellows named above.   These are the Real Men of Racing, and, even though they'll be in their own barns and offices on Women's Day at Saratoga Race Course--we know that they'll be with us in spirit.

The Racing Vocations booth will be open and ready for the business of making connections and shoring up alliances, between 9AM and 10:30AM, and then again from 11AM until after the last race.  We'll share stories; build friendships and business associations and encourage those who may not-yet know that they, too, can find their vocational fulfillment in this sport.  This sport, according to my reckoning, is The Only Sport Worth Watching.  I have a motto:  "If it doesn't have four legs and a mane--or ride something with four legs and a mane--it ain't an athlete."  This sport excites, frustrates, blesses and satisfies as no other athletic endeavour in the world.  Our athletes are strong, smart, loyal, generous of spirit and single-minded in their quest for immortality.  We who are blessed to work in this sport, in whatever capacity, are evangelistic and eager to share our experiences with those who may join our ranks.

Please come to the Racing Vocations booth on August 19th, and meet women who want to help you find your vocational bliss.  If you're a female who works in the sport in any capacity--we need you!  Your time and energy would be greatly appreciated, as we strut our stuff and work together to grow our ranks.

We adore the horses; we love the sport and we want very much to meet everyone who comes by, one girl and woman at a time.  (Men are very welcome, of course!)  We want to shake your hands and introduce you to our informal sorority, the Sisterhood of Racing.   No one will try to force you to take on a job--but no one on that day will tell you that you can't do it, either. 

Women + Thoroughbreds truly do = Power, and we want to share that power with you.  Who knows?  Maybe next August, you'll join us as a professional in racing, and offer your time to encourage women and girls who need to hear your story. 

I'm a writer, and God knows that I love a good story.

 

Who:    You.  Us.  Experienced women in racing, and those who want in on the fun.
What:   Racing Vocations Booth at the Women's Day celebration.
When:  Wednesday, August 19th, 9AM - 10:30AM, and 11AM 'til after the last race.
Where: Saratoga Race Course.
Why:    Because NYRA and B95.5 are terrific, enlightened people.
            Because we're the majority of the fanbase of Thoroughbred racing. 
            Because we want to introduce girls and women to the career possibilities. 
            Because when women and girls get together--great things happen.
How:    Show up!  If you work in the sport--lend us your expertise.  
            If you're a curious or just jonesin' for some sparkling conversation--meet us there.

 

[Photo credits:  Rachel Alexandra and Betor, Cruguet and Altieri, courtesy of The Horse Whisper Photography/Cathleen Duffy.]

 

 

2 Comments

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Marion,
Great article and I see that you and Jean finally got together. How are you doing? Love your writing and articles.
Miss you
Milli B

Go get 'em Marion! Wish I could be there!

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M.E. Altieri

THE ALPHA MARE, commonly known as M.E. Altieri, is a writer/editor/activist who lives and breathes the art and sport of horse racing—both Arabian and Thoroughbred.
At the tender age of six months, her Grandmother plopped her on the back of a pony. (See photo.) Three years later, Mare first rode a horse—an American Quarter Horse—on her cousin's farm in Stephentown, New York. That same year her Mother and Grandma took her to Green Mountain Park, a now- (sadly) defunct Thoroughbred track in Pownal, Vermont. Next stop, Saratoga Race Course. The seed was planted, and a passion, born.
While she does have other interests (Medieval languages and theology, cats, tigers, etc.) none hold a candle to her passion for horses. She finds that horses are far-more intelligent, compassionate and kind than 99% of the people she meets. Mare's career is fascinating, if nothing else: in 2011, she served as Editor of a beautiful history book, The Purebred Arabian Horses of Iraq: Myths and Realities by Dr. Mohammad bin 'Abdul-'Aziz Al Nujaifi. She's contributed to several international horse racing publications, including Al Badia, Arabian Finish Line, Desert Mirage and Galopp Magasinet.
She's the Founder, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of f!lly Magazine-- the magazine by, for and about women in horse racing. f!lly will debut in 2013. Both Thoroughbred and Arabian racing--and women, f!llies and mare from all around the world--will be featured in the full-color, beautiful, historic publication. Magazines are the first of the media M.E. wishes to tackle: she's also writing a screenplay, and seeks the perfect venue and producer for her horse racing radio show. She's got the voice; God knows, she has opinions--she feels led to put them together and broadcast to the 51% of the racing fan base that's too-often been overlooked. (Hint: 51%...could it be, women?)
An Alumna of Mount Holyoke College, Mare hopes to use these media, including her blog here at Saratoga.com, to encourage women and girls to find their vocations in horse racing and to help make the world a more loving and nurturing place for all equines. When asked to identify her Mentor, the woman who encouraged her to follow her bliss, Mare names the great Penny Chenery. Through these various media projects, Mare hopes to do for other females what Ms. Chenery did for her--open doors, encourage and bless.


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Thoroughbred Racing in Saratoga

The Thoroughbred is a distinct, created breed of horse. Saratoga Springs, New York is a unique, pristine city in Upstate New York.

Put the two together, Thoroughbreds and Saratoga, and you have America's most prestigious, lushly beautiful and important racing meet. For six weeks every summer, the world's best horses, jockeys and trainers come together to compete for trophies, cash and fame.

In this blog, we'll discover All Things Thoroughbred and the lovely international community of horsepeople, both professionals and fans, alike who set up camp in this city. Some come for six weeks, only. Others are here from April through November every year, when the Oklahoma's open. Yet others trek to town to race their mighty steeds—then fall in love with the place; buy a home and move here.

The Saratoga racing family of humans and horses is a year-round endeavour. You think that all the horses all go elsewhere after Labor Day? Then this blog is for you, too.

(Is the reference, "the Oklahoma" lost on you? Stay tuned, you'll feel like a pro in no time.)

Welcome to the only experience on Earth that can boast of such otherworldly beauty and heart-stopping thrills, all in the same breath: Thoroughbred racing in Saratoga.