Saratoga Horse Racing

Horse Racing Loses One of Our Own: Davy Jones, 1945 - 2012.

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You have to understand that I did not expect my world to be turned upside-down today. I hunkered down to work in my home office, while outside a snowstorm bore down on me. I was quite fine.  Drinking coffee, gathering information on the web, I was utterly loving the silence that a snowstorm forces on a community.  Streets become quiet.  Cars hush themselves.  Even scofflaws come out in the daytime to open their mouths and catch the six-pointed, icy stars on their tongues.

Yes, "scofflaws":  you know, those people whose business is done by the dark of night.  The shadows are their friends.  Like behoodied vampires, the harsh glow of daylight sends them skittering back into their alleyways and abandoned buildings.  As so many cockroaches, they seek the company only of their own, and not all that often. But snow!  Snow, it seems, reminds us all--even the scofflaws--of our childhood.  For just a moment, even the hardest or saddest of us is taken back to a time when our biggest cares involved whether to take the orange or purple ice-pop on a sweltering August afternoon.

So I loved the snow, and the quiet, and the prospect of getting a ton of work done today. Deadlines to meet tomorrow, and the next day, and Monday, and so forth. Today was a day full of promise.   My plan for productivity and peace was in place...until I picked up my CrackBerry, turned to msnbc.com and read that Davy Jones had died...

Davy Jones US Weekly.jpgDavy Jones.  I read those words, and uttered, "Oh, no!"  I looked around, as if someone in the building could deny this horrible rumor for me.  My cat was uncharacteristically mute.   I rushed to the computer, and went looking for more information.  It wasn't hard to find--the Internet was abuzz.  Facebook had become Davy Jones Central.

This could not be.  
This could not be.

Who is Davy Jones, and why does his death matter to me?  Why should it matter to you? And why, for God's Sake, should it matter to the horse racing community?

Davy Jones, for those of you who may not have been privy to American pop culture in the 1960s--was the cutest, sexiest singer in the world.  I gushed that like a 10-year-old girl just now, because that's precisely who I was when my crush on Davy was at its zenith.  There is no emotion more pure, new, honest and confused than that of a girl who's discovering parts of her own feelings, via a non-relationship/relationship with her first pop star.  The relationship is non-existent, yet for the girl it has all the markings of The Real Thing.  It hurts, it feels wonderful, it aches, it makes you tingle.  Hearing his voice on the radio is tantamount to ecstasy. 

Davy Jones was my first relationship with a man, and yet we never met.  That's OK, that's standard in the industry for this sort of love affair.  I got all I needed from the arrangement:  I had my first experience of feelings that theretofore were foreign to me--and in a safe environment, the safest in the world.  Sitting around Grace's upstairs family room with other girls, listening to every breath that Davy took in every song he sang.  

And it was OK that I was just one of millions.  Oh, sure, we all wanted to be The One, but we knew that that wasn't going to happen. (If for no other reason than that he was a man, and we were girls. But the age difference was the very least of the reasons why none of us were destined to become Mrs. Davy Jones.)   We were individuals, and yet members of something much larger than ourselves.  We were a community.

As one of the lead singers of the Monkees (along with Micky Dolenz), Davy and his adorable English accent, slight stature and straight, Prince Valiant haircut--stole the tender hearts of young girls, and charmed our Mothers (whose response to rock musicians ranged from nervous to outright animosity).  Davy was "safe," as far as Mother could see, so she bought every Monkees album for me, the minute they hit the shelves in Topps.  Davy Jones, thank God, was not Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix or Robert Plant.  (My admiration for those more street-savvy men was not of the same  strain as that for Davy.  I loved the Beatles' music and political statements, but I wanted Davy.  And I had no idea what that meant.)

So today Davy Jones died, and with him went a huge piece of my heart, and of my youth.

I will turn 56 in just a couple of days, and that idea almost amuses me--while the notion also seems to be some sort of cruel cosmic joke.  How can I--I??--be running, full-tilt boogie, toward 60?  That's high-sterically funny, for, in my mind, I'm still 22 and hot.

The evidence says that I'm aging, although my mind and soul say it ain't so.

And one young man--one sweet, handsome, talented soul, with a voice like a baby bird who's learned to use his new song--somewhere along the line, Davy Jones became human, just like me. I'm getting older, but Davy Jones was older, still.  Still too young to die, he had much to give the world yet.  But just as I am surprised that I'm no longer 10--wearing my white go-go boots and lime green fishnet tights (really)--and rockin' out to I'm Not Your Steppin' Stone--somehow, also, my secret love, Davy Jones grew up, grew older and, for whatever reason--in spite of a recent clean bill of health--his heart decided that it was time to leave this earthly plane.  Davy has joined the heavenly choir, and the song will be that-much more sweet.  I hope God gives him a solo.

So I'm sitting here, listening to Daydream Believer, and crying my guts out.  I remember--as if it was yesterday, I tell you--hearing Davy sing that line, "...my shaving razor's cold, and it stings," and my friends and are I giggling wildly that...Davy Jones shaves...he must be soooooooo sophisticated!

We were a community of lovers, these Davy Jones fanatics...and one lifetime, one universe, one world away--the horse racing family is also a community--and that community, as well, lost a treasured member today.   If you've not read in The Paulick Report or elsewhere on February 29th  Davy Jones, before he found his way to the stage, wanted with all his heart to be a jockey.
Davy JonesJockeyMySanAntonio.jpg

Yes!  At age 14, Davy left home to become a jockey.  He was mentored by the British 
trainer, Basil Foster, who realized that, while Jones could be a good jockey, indeed--he had It to become a great singer and actor.  He fairly kicked the young bug off the race course, and into the theatre--and no doubt the world is a better place because of Mr. Foster's insistence that Jones follow his talents wherever they should go.

But the horses never were far from Davy's heart and mind:  in 1994, he actually galloped a three-year-old filly, Love Dancing, at Churchill Downs--and in 1996, he won an amateur jockeys' race at Lingfield--he was a jockey in that race, at last.

In the meantime, he owned Thoroughbreds, and raced at Colonial Downs and other tracks.  In the early 2000s, he campaigned T.E. Jones, a daughter of the great sire, Grand Slam. As recently as December, 2011, he spoke of the six Thoroughbreds he had on his farm. 

Davy Jones--singer, dancer, actor, heartthrob, my first love--was, in his soul, first and foremost--a horseman.  The Monkees took him for a wild ride, but the ride he cherished the most was that given him by his Thoroughbreds.    Horse racing lost one of our most ardent fans and devoted owners today: Davy Jones never won a Triple Crown race, or the Dubai World Cup.  He didn't campaign a Horse of the Year.  No, Davy Jones was far-more like the rest of us, we who never will see the inside of a million-dollar-bill, yet who love the horses with every bit of soul we have to share.  Davy Jones was a genuine horseman:  plain and simple, he loved horses and riding them more than could be measured.  
Davy Jones Winning Jockey USAToday.jpg

That love, that devotion--his desire to see horse racing become a sport that's embraced by families, and rise to enormous popularity again--is the kind of commitment that horse racing needs.  We need more Davy Joneses.  We lost the original today, and tonight we grieve and offer comfort and prayers to his widow and four daughters.  Yes, his family lost the man in their lives--but our family, our horse racing community--lost a gentleman who led by example.  Davy Jones worked to help grow the sport, one horse, one family, one expression of love at a time.  

Forty-seven years ago, Davy Jones sang his way into my heart--we're all grown up now, and, as grown-ups know--sometimes, Life hurts.  Tonight the racing community hurts: I hope that someone, somewhere, creates a ceremony to pay proper respect to this most enthusiastic of horsemen.  

It's the least we can do for one of our own, who also happened--in his spare time, when he wasn't lovin' up on a horse--to be a rock star.  Davy Jones, Rest in God's arms, comrade.



Photo credits - Many thanks to:

Davy Jones photo, US Weekly
Davy Jones Jockey photo, MySanAntonio/Getty Images
Davy Jones Winning Jockey photo, USAToday







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I know that it has been over 3 months since that awful day...you said all the things I feel. It's a comfort to know that I'm not alone. But I can't believe he's really gone. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine a world without Davy Jones. I am still grieving so much; but it's in silence. Only someone else who feels as I do can understand. Anyone else thinks it's ridiculous.
Thanks for sharing your private thoughts. Not that it makes it any easier but at least we all still love him & I hope he can feel it and it makes it good for him.

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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.