Saratoga Horse Racing

Horse Sense: August 2009 Archives

Thumbnail image for Unfinished Rachel Alexandra Brian T. Fox.jpgWorry not, I shall write a great deal more about Rachel Alexandra as the week goes on and we get closer to Woodward Stakes Day.  Me, and every other racing writer in North America.  The time I spent in the Queen's royal presence last Monday morning gave me ample material to write a book, or a screenplay.  I wish Jess Jackson would love my writing, and ask me to document his big horse's life for the silver screen.  Rachel is not only a feast for the eyes and food for the soul--she's worth her weight in printer's ink.

I'll whet your appetite for the whole story from last week by telling you tell you that, in the midst of the storm that surrounds her--the mighty, invincible, unequaled Rachel Alexandra is a model of serenity.  On Monday morning I dubbed her, Her Serene Highness, for I believe that this is her archetypal name, the moniker that was written in the stars before she was born.

Many people make a healthy living handicapping horse races.  Math, science, statistics, pedigree and workout times all play a role in the determination of a horse's odds in any given race.  The handicappers who hunker down over the papers and come to conclusions as to Who Will Take the Day have at their disposal the aforementioned arsenal of ammo with which to make their prognostications.  The odds help bettors decide how to place their wagers, and the sport of racing Thoroughbreds thrives--or doesn't--according to how well the bettors fared on any given day.

The only variable, the one that no one in the game of handicapping ever seems to take into account, because it is totally unpredictable, and therefore cannot be factored in--is the wild card fact that horses are sentient beings.  Living, breathing, thinking creatures who don't care about the odds.  (I wouldn't say that they don't know--horses know when a tornado is coming, long before the humans in its path are aware.  I believe that horses know about the odds, and no doubt have their own sidebets.   When you hear whinnying down a shedrow, it's probably the horses placing bets on which handicappers will almost get it right that day.)

Horses, as sentient beings, have good days and bad days.  A 5-2 favorite may get into the paddock on a particular day and decide that s/he simply isn't doing it this time.  S/he doesn't care that Joe from Hoboken has bet  on that race, and needs the cash to pay the mortgage.  Or that Judy from Syracuse has a sidebet with her friends, that she will once again win the most money at the track on Girls' Day Out...

Leave a Comment

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.