Saratoga Horse Racing

January 2010 Archives

Impressions of Saratoga Logo.gifResort destinations like Saratoga Springs often fall prey to carpetbaggers and snake oil salesmen who come to town when the number are high, and stay only long enough to cash in on visitors' craving for reminders of their time spent in the Spa City.   Hawking cheaply-made t-shirts, shot glasses sporting scandily-clad, winking Hawaiian girls and birds that utilize the pendulum theory to dip into a glass of red water--there is nothing worse than a cheesy souvenir shop.  Just being around one of these smarmy types makes one feel dirty somehow.

Saratoga has seen her share of these joints, hastily rented and open just-long-enough to catch the racing season.  The owners then blow out of town, never to return.   The word, "accountability" is not in their lexicon.  Neither are "neighbors," "friends" or "respected" used to describe these takers.

How many times have you gone on vacation, and of course, wanted to get something that will bring a smile to your face every time you use or see it, because it represents a great time in a fun place?  But then you scope out the stores or kiosks that sell souvenirs, and you cringe because the products are all nasty, subtly (or not-so-subtly) sexual or just really poorly-made.  And you decide that maybe you can just commit to memory all the good times, and call upon your brain anytime you want to think about your vacation.  At least your memory doesn't have "I Went to __ with Stupid" written all over it.  Or rats in the basement.

HayseedCover1001[1].pngIf you were kinda short and had an odd birthmark--would it stop you from finding your star, and following it all the way to personal victory?

Those problems didn't stop George Stephanopoulos or Mikhail Gorbachev--and it shouldn't stop anyone else, either.  Both these men knew that physical appearances have nothing to do, whatsoever, with the content of their character.  An unfortunate byproduct of western society's obsession with looks has led young people to sad, often tragic, places.  Bulimia.  Diuretic diets.  Plastic surgery at 18.  Cliques, slam books and multi-colored plastic bracelets that make me sad when I think about the implications.

Kids with low self esteem will do anything in order to be "popular."

The obsessive quest for "beauty" in the post-modern world has given nothing but grief to children whose only real concerns should be whether to have the ice cream or yogurt for dessert.  Children in Kindergarten are pressured to be "pretty," and "strong."  This is a shame, and, many would say, a sin.

We who have reached our 30s, 40s and 50s are blessed to have some Wisdom that came to us through years of bucking the system.  We know that physical appearance is irrelevant, that it's what's inside that counts.  Being cute may win fame for a few minutes, but at the end of the day--a truly satisfying Life is the result of following your dreams; believing in the power of those dreams and never taking the NO of someone else as the final answer.

Allow me to introduce you to my new friend,  Hayseed.  Think of Hayseed as "EveryHorse":  he's a lot like 99% of us.  In a very real sense, Hayseed represents the norm, those of us who are smack-dab in the middle of the road.  We who were not born with cherubs' faces, destined to fight off the glare of paparazzi's flashbulbs.    We haven't gone under the plastic surgeon's scalpel to "fix" what God made.  We can't wear Chanel every day.  We live and die with looks that are deemed to be "average," or even below-average--and we're OK with it.

Psychologists know that people who suffer from bad self image are often jealous of those whose careers, lives or personal traits they envy.  Their jealousy is due to poor self esteem--they don't realize that genuinely healthy self esteem comes from within, ergo, the achievements of others should not affect their feelings about themselves. 

But not everyone is capable of this logical assessment:  it's much easier to express insecurities by putting down someone who is perhaps an easy target because of their apparent superiority, and because the media has refused to defend that person from inappropriate and cruel scrutiny.    Australians have a phrase, "the Tall Poppy Syndrome," for this need.  Anyone in Oz who's made it big; struck it rich or otherwise risen above the crowd--a poppy whose red head is visible above the others in the field--must be struck down, so that mediocrity is once-again the norm.  If no one rises above, all others appear to be equal.

This piece is going to run the gamut of emotions--so if you're not prepared, go away and come back when you're ready.  From death and grief to gratitude for heroes riding in on white horses--this is what's in my head and heart today.  I don't usually write truly heavy things here on Saratoga.com, but this is what's on the docket for today.  You may agree with me.  You may disagree.  Either way, we want to hear from you, so please post a comment below--your opinion is important.  Sans further ado, here we go...

 

Thumbnail image for Williamstown's Eye.jpgI have lucid dreams--that is, every time I dream, I'm cognizant that I'm asleep, and that this is a dream.  And I usually direct the dream.  Pose questions.  Take actions to change the course of the dream.  I don't just experience it, I'm involved.  It's an interesting way to dream, and apparently only a small percentage of the population dreams lucidly.  Those of us whose dreamlives are lucid are in good company:  Saint Augustine of Hippo and Tibetan monks are listed among those for whom dreams are as tangible as waking life, perhaps moreso.

Caballo Press Horsenameographies New Cover.pngBooks in the Middle Ages were treasures.  Not everyone owned a book, usually only royalty or those wealthy enough to afford a scribe to hand-write a book for them.  These books were beautiful, no two books alike.  It could take up to a year to hand-write a book--scribes and their patrons were nothing if not patient.  Each page featured gorgeous script.  The first word of each chapter featured a stylized, jewel-toned capital letter.  Often a scene from the story was entwined around that first letter--a great, painstaking effort, in order to bring to life a creation which was, itself, a work of art.  The visual appeal of the book was as compelling as the story or poetry contained within the covers.   A treat for the senses, these handmade books delighted both the eye and the hand.  Owning a book was a status symbol as well as a sensual experience.

When Johannes Gutenberg presented the concept of movable type in the 1430s, the Western world of books and publishing took a monumental leap forward in many ways.  (N.B.:  the Koreans and Chinese had created a printing press before Gutenberg, but its popularity didn't spread like wildfire, as did Gutenberg's invention.)   Sure, his first Bible was the Vulgate and it was in Latin, so the audience was restricted to those educated in the language.  But still, this was a huge step for Western society:  with the printing press came a world of possibilities, theretofore not even considered by the world's people.  It was now possible to communicate an idea to many people simultaneously.  Absolutely unfathomable--science fiction became simply, science.

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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.