Saratoga Horse Racing

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Will you be in Saratoga on Friday, July 19th, for Opening Day at the historic, 150-year-old, Saratoga Race Course?  

Of course you'll be there!  No real fan of horse racing would miss this most extraordinary Opening Day in racing history.  (Severe illness, tsunamis are exceptions.)

But even with a broken leg--you'll make it.  Whether you're a local to the Saratoga/Capital Region of Upstate New York, or you're traveling from around the United States or Planet Earth--you know the profound significance of this near-sacred space.  To be in Saratoga--to see our horses racing--to be one of the enlightened people who know the Secret Handshake of Those Who Get It--is to feel...special.  Set apart.  You're an insider, with insider's information.

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And because you're tuned in, you won't come skidding through the gates like Kramer, just as the starting gate slams open at 1PM.  Whether you're here for a day, a week or a lifetime--you'll be on Union Avenue early.  

And across the famed boulevard from the cast-iron fence of the Race Course stands a magnificent edifice. The Temple of Thoroughbred Racing. The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

In this amazing, beautiful space on Friday morning the 19th--before the races start, as the City of Saratoga Springs, herself, buzzes like a hive-ful of Queen Bees--Author, Anne Hambleton will present a program and sign copies of her wonderful, insightful--and delicious book, Raja:  Story of a Racehorse...
There are writers, and then there are writers.  

Some writers take a deep breath, and plunge into the frightening, long journey toward being published as an author.  A real book.  The focus and drive that it takes to create a book is nearly unfathomable--the perseverance and depth of soul that it takes to write a book that's worth reading--well, that's nearly an otherworldly gift.

MaryAnn Myers is one such author.  I want you to meet her and to experience her books because she's a gifted, knowledgeable, compassionate author.  

And because women should support each other in our endeavors.  
And because horse racing is a primo example of an industry that's in dire need of women rising up--standing with each other--and seizing the opportunity to change the world.

You see...Recently I heard that the simple definition of Feminism is to "...take another woman with you." This is the purpose of f!lly Magazine and the f!lly Movement: we want to take other women with us, and to introduce you to women in racing whom you should know. If you're not already a rabid fan of equestrian/horse rescuer/environmentalist/thoughtful-citizen-of-the world, MaryAnn Myers--you're really missing something grand. MaryAnn's a prolific author, whose books will bless, intrigue and fascinate you. Her most recent, "Barn 14: Meg's Meadows" is the latest in her Winning Odds Series...
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...
SIX WEEKS IN SARATOGA
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...
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...

I'll start this book review by being brutally honest:  I don't know anything about Gaudeamus Igitur.gifeducation.  I mean, I got an education (high school, college).  I had some great Teachers, Professors and Mentors along the way.  The combined Wisdom of these Educators changed my Life in many ways, all for the better.  I learned how to think critically, and to apply those principles of logical thought not only to academic work and intellectual endeavour, but to Life, itself.  (Arguing with someone who doesn't argue critically, is a blast.  The next time you have a fight with a significant other, throw out this sentence:   "That's an ad hominem argument--sorry, you lose!"  This is endlessly entertaining for me.  And wildly aggravating to the worthy adversary.)

I digress.  I am going off the board today, and reviewing a book that has nothing whatsoever to do with horses or their role in my Life as Muse.  But the path I took in Life, which brought me to this place of vocational fulfillment as a communicator in the lovely world of horses, had its solid foundation in the insights of one Richard Michael Holmes, my high school English and Drama Teacher at Watervliet High School in Watervliet, New York.

"Prof," as we called him, has written a book filled with Wisdom that he shares graciously, no holding back.  This is the missive I share with you today, which I hope you will all acquire so that you, too, may learn at the knee of a master...

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.

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.