On the eve of the 2009 Saratoga race meet, it's easy to get caught up in the cacophony because, while the pace is hectic--it's the most fun sort of hectic into which the human soul can be thrust. For me--and others of like mind--this joyous madness begins way back in mid-April, when the Thoroughbreds first start to move back to Saratoga from their winter "snow bird" perches.
Forget the First Saturday in May: each day that brings us closer to The Last Wednesday in July finds the decibels in our heads growing louder: every minute that ticks by, we become more and more crazy with joy. The horses are our rock stars: the Sallee and Brook Ledge vans, their buses filled with potential.
The weeks leading up to the meet is a time of wild planning, as NYRA prepares to move an entire corporation north for six weeks. This is a monumental feat--talk about being organized: basically, NYRA moves Belmont Park up to Saratoga for a month-and-a-half. In the midst of this packing frenzy is the necessity of being uber-together, to assure that not one paper clip or betting voucher misses its ride up the Northway.
The Saratoga meet is like a big, wild-eyed vacation for hundreds of thousands of people and animals who, just last week--may not have known each other. But if you're a fan of this sport, you trek to Mecca once a year to pay your respects, renew acquaintances and bow to the pari-mutuel windows. For six weeks every year, everyone is a friend or at least a potential temporary confidant. It's difficult to keep your head on straight...while this is good madness--it's madness, nonetheless. How to get Zen and stay there?