Saratoga Horse Racing

July 2012 Archives

Every now and then, someone writes a book that I love.  
Less-often, someone pens a tome to which I can relate, directly, and cry my way through to the end. 

"Flying Change:  A Year of Racing and Family and Steeplechasing"  by Patrick Smithwick is one of those books.

This is a tale that speaks to my heart, because only nine years ago, did I find and embrace my own vocation--the reason I was put on this planet.  I was 47 at the time, and felt too old to do a turnaround.  

Perhaps you understand how I felt?  Maybe you're feeling that way right now?  I urge you to read this book review--better yet, buy the book--if you're over 40 and feel the urge to embrace the next part of your Life, full-throttle.  

I urge you to buy the book, also, if you're over 40 and are terrified of exploring the options.  

And I strongly encourage you to read the review--and yes, buy the book--if you're under 40, and think that you have Life all figured out.  You're just young enough (and therefore, arrogant enough) to think that things are cast in stone, and you're content.  

Read on, O Friends, for--as we who are over 40 know--Life is never cast in stone.  Life throws a curve ball at you, and you have two options:  duck, and live, or get smacked in the bean...
I am fascinated by popular culture:  the fact that so many nice, otherwise-intelligent people have (or make) the time to follow "reality" shows (which have nothing to do with reality, at all), and to give a tiny rat's patootie about the comings and goings of famous people (who wouldn't be famous, were it not that they were willing to eat live scorpions)--blows my mind.  

The fact that the majority of these "celebrities" are famous for doing nothing whatsoever; being vulgar or willing to participate in marginal activies or show the world that they are a trollop or a felon--fascinates me even more.  Americans pour billions of dollars into the pockets of people whom they know not, and who, by-and-large, are illiterate "authors"--famous for being famous...  
I'm not a professional handicapper, but I play one on the Internet.

I've never been a scientific sort:  things like speed figures don't make sense to me.  And past performances, I defenestrate them, too, because--as y'all must know about me, by now--I realize that horses are sentient beings.  Champions have bad days, and ne'er-do-wells wake up some mornings and think, "Today I kick butt."

How Three-Year-Old Filly Rachel Alexandra Beat the Boys and Became Horse of the Year
by Brendan O'Meara
ISBN13:  ISBN13: 978-1-4384-3941-9
Excelsior Editions (State University of New York Press, Albany, New York, 257 pages, $27)

I like writing book reviews, because I love reading books.  And when I read a book that I love, I want to share it with everyone I know.  And--Voila!--via the Miracle of the Internet--I can share it also with lots of peeps whom I don't know.

I love this book, and the reasons for my loving it are many and varied.  I'll share but a few with you here, today...
Last September, I posted this on this 'site.  My wrap-up for the Saratoga season.  But the season is about to begin again, and I feel compelled to remind myself (and maybe you) why Saratoga--America's oldest and most revered race course--is still the epicenter of magic.

The horses are here.  The horses' humans are here.  The fans --tourists and locals, alike--are here.  The Sallee Horse Vans are pulling off at Exit 14--construction, still, and all--and threading their ways down Union Avenue.

All that's necessary now is to wait out a couple of days--I'm sure that your calendar is marked, you're Xing off the days-and Sam the Bugler will be back at his station, calling us all to the post...

Opening Day 2012 at Saratoga Race Course is upon us.  This exciting time of year actually makes me pensive, as I consider once again ways to help grow our sport.  I write about this industry, and I love the horses and humans who make it happen.  So of course I feel a sense of obligation to help the sport become as popular and healthy as possible.  This is my community, we're all members of the same team.

With this goal in mind,  this morning my attention is drawn to one single premise:  that the  best and most solid way to revive horse racing--to bring throngs of humans to the track--is to introduce them to The Horse.  (IActually,  have in mind a secondary plan, but that will be revealed over the course of the next few months.  Watch this spot for developments.) ...

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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.