Saratoga Horse Racing

January 2012 Archives

I love movies that were made in the 1930s.  Everything about them--especially the black-and-white films, before color was developed--makes me swoon.  I love the clothes, the plots, the complications that magically get fixed within the space of 90 minutes. I love it that men were men, and women more-often-than-not were tough broads, packin' hearts and hair of platinum.

This contemporary society, this 21st Century,  can be so smug: too many peeps under the age of 30 believe that those of us over 30 are idiots.  And surely, if it didn't happen,oh, within the last five minutes--it has no value.  Western culture has too many "heroes" and others who are famous for being famous.  It grieves me, actually, that someone with big hair named Snooki has a book on the "New York Times Best-Seller List." 

I doubt that she wrote the book, and now I doubt the value of the List.  

It's a relief to see that good movies still exist--but you have to wade through a sea of drek in order to find them.  If it isn't heavy on sex and violence--the odds of it being a big moneymaker are thin.  The problem with a society that insists on a diet of such emotional loudness is that the subtle and delicate often are overlooked--or worse, cast onto the cutting-room floor.

And because too few people can think back to a year that didn't begin in this century, contemporary culture has little room or respect for greatness that existed before this very minute. The phrase, "...that's so five-minutes ago..." is not a joke.

I get overwhelmed by this western culture, and the utter disrespect for the past.  I want to close my eyes and transport back to the black-and-white world, where everything was neatly tied up before the film ended--and no one was dead or assaulted along the way.

So I was relieved--and practically out-of-my-mind excited--on Saturday night, when I came across two movies featuring Clark Gable, a mini-festival on TCM. (Turner Classic Movies, a cable channel in the U.S.)

The first, "The Misfits," will be fodder for another article in this column in the very near future.  The second Gable film to show that night--"Saratoga," a gorgeous, lush nugget from 1937--is the one that made my culture-weary heart soar...
Note:  This article appeared originally in the March, 2011 issue of "Galopp Magasinet," a Swedish horse racing magazine that I just adore.   They cover flat racing of all ilks: Arabian, Thoroughbred, Mongolian--you name it.  Their photojournalism is second-to-none--and,occasionally, they hire humble writers such as my self, to tell a story or two.

I love John Henry.  Our birthdays were a week away:  he, born on March 9th, me, on the second.   I was going to wait and post this article for his birthday week, but, nah.  I decided to put it up now.  It's a quiet day, and I hope that some of you will read this and come away with a different understanding of the irascible old Champion.  Sometimes, seeing a horse, person or issue from another side can help us gain new perspective...


As those who know me are aware, I am (sadly) a bit of a skeptic, regarding the good intentions of other human beings.  My motto, "The more humans I meet...the more I love horses" didn't come into existence because I sought to be quoted 100 years hence, but rather because, in my experience--most people are not as trustworthy as most horses.

It's sad, but it's true.

Do you recall the Billy Joel song from 1989, "We Didn't Start the Fire"?  In rapid succession, he barked out some 100 events and people that had passed through history between 1949 and 1989.  The song's staccato beat and the seeming-cacophony of the music always made me anxious.  I think that was the point:  we heard and sang the names of some very bad people and events, accompanied by rat-tat-tat-tat music--and maybe, just maybe--we might think about the fact that the actions of an individual or of a nation can ripple to every living being on the planet.

Recent events in our sad, weary world have made me think a great deal about this song--and that things haven't changed very much since 1989, except that perhaps they've gotten worse. Greed, anger, prejudice, hatred--the majority of which are fueled by misconceptions, long-held   myths or just plain jealousy--run rampant on our beautiful blue marble planet.  One day Guy #1 wants to blow up Country #2;  the next day, someone else wants to take over Guy #1's  nation, and enslave his people.  

It goes on and on, so much rage and unwarranted hatred--the names and locations may change, but the results are the same:  we live in a fractured world, with imminent threat of extinction at our own hands.  How very stupid are we?

I wonder how it looks from the perspective of One whose feet aren't standing anywhere on the planet?  How does this bloated bickering look to God?...
A few weeks ago, I was up way-too late, incapable of sleeping.  As I channel-surfed, I thought that the infomercials and other shoppertunities should have bored me into the Arms of Morpheus.

But no.  I couldn't sleep, and became aggravated by the drivel that clogged the proverbial airwaves.  "These people are earning Big Bucks,and I know great writers who can't get a gig.  No justice," I declared.

But then, by the Grace of God and my finely-tuned eye, I spied a horse.  A Thoroughbred, to be exact.  And he was the newest acquisition of one Mr. Fred Sanford.  

Yes!  A double bonus:  an episode of "Sanford and Son" AND a Thoroughbred.  Seems that Fred bought the guy for fifty bucks, with plans to turn him into a stud horse and make millions.

Of course, you know how Fred's plans always work out:  they don't.  The previous owner had gelded the guy (the horse, not Fred).  So once again, Fred was foiled...

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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.