Saratoga Horse Racing

September 2009 Archives

Mother Russia Winning at Saratoga Lee Millett.JPGThe Summer of 2009 was spectacular--at least in Saratoga Springs, New York.  Thoroughbred racing at its very best took place beneath the northern skies, as some of the world's most talented horses thrilled hundreds of thousands of hearts.  The World's Greatest Thoroughbred, one Empress, Rachel Alexandra, made her Spa debut and made history, all on the same day.  Summer Bird proved that he has The Stuff, and that he's not just a gorgeous redhead.

Many hearts and minds connected for the first time, as the sweltering weather gave way to the first cool breezes of Autumn.  We laughed, we wined, we dined.  We cheered 'til we were hoarse, and wept when the beautiful and talented Todo K broke down on the last race, on Labor Day.  As we ran that last race of the Saratoga meet together--we all felt the pain of Todo K's connections, for in many ways, truly we are Family.

I attempted to document in this blog the horses, people and events that touched my soul the most during the summer of 2009.  But I confess here that it was only an introduction, a passing thought that went through my mind and demanded to be written down--I would need the entire winter to go over each day in my Palm, and write everything and every being that affected my life this past August.  And that may be my Winter Project...

And I will, indeed, take a bit of time to completely record this past meet, in a way that's respectful and that I can share with all of you.  But as Summer gives way to Autumn--today is The Ultimate Autumn Day, and days like this make me wonder why every Season can't be crisp, the light filtered through red and golden/orange leaves.  Why hot apple cider doughnuts aren't the National Food of the United States, and ice-cold river water not considered to be sacred.

Rachel Alexandra wins the Woodward.JPGAs I stood in the paddock at Saratoga Race Course on Wednesday following the post position draw for the Woodward Stakes, I could not but pick up a few words uttered to a couple of trainers by the one, the only, Tom Durkin.

Durkin, as you no doubt know, is the race announcer for New York's three racetracks, Saratoga, Belmont and Aqueduct.  Mr. D. is a brilliant guy; has a fabulous voice--and he makes the most of it.  His calls are legendary, as is his insight into this sport to which he's been privy for many decades.

Mr. Durkin acted as announcer for the post position draw, and made even the act of announcing that so-and-so had drawn position thus-and-such--sound fascinating.  Following the draw of all eight positions, He interviewed several connections for we in the media who scribbled furiously or whose cameras whirred frantically to catch The Shot.



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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, 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.


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.