Saratoga Horse Racing

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Ahhh,'s that time of the year again.  Saratoga. You're reading this on, so you may think that I refer to the city of Saratoga Springs, New York.  Or to Saratoga County. Thumbnail image for Shayjolie by Dan Heary Travers Day 2014 7th race.jpg

But you'd be wrong, if you think that the standalone word, "Saratoga" can refer to anyplace or anything other than Saratoga Race Course and the (Thoroughbred) horse race meet that happens here every year...

On the one hand, "Fugue for Tinhorns," from the Broadway musical, "Guys and Dolls" is one of my favorite pieces of music.

Anyone who doesn't know the title, surely knows the tune and the opening sentence,

"I got the horse right here,
his name is Paul Revere..."

It's a wonderul song--a terrific ringtone--and, musicologically-speaking--it IS a fugue.  The high-falootin' definition of "fugue" is thus:

"...a contrapuntal composition in which a short melody or phrase (the subject) is introduced by one part and successively taken up by others and developed by interweaving the parts."

To the uninitiated, this use of fugue form--a classical music mode--for a song that's sung by supposedly-uneducated trackrats--seems to be humorous.  No doubt, the concept seemed to be funny to its composer, Frank Loesser:  "Imagine that: ne'er-do-well race fans, singing in fugue form!  Oh, those silly, illiterate racetrackers!"
Those of you who are friends--in "real life," or on Facebook--know that last week was a rough one for me, and for anyone who loves the NPR (National Public Radio) show, "Car Talk."

"Car Talk" was a Peabody award-winning radio show produced by NPR, hosted by two irrepressibly crazy, fun, brilliant brothers, Ray and Tom Magliozzi.  Sadly--horribly--Tommy Magliozzi died last week, complications of Alzheimer's.  (A dear friend of mine died in January from Alzheimer's complications, so I know this pain intimately.)

Tommy's death hit me like a brick in the face. I know that it hit millions of "Car Talk" fans similarly.  From 1977 until the brothers retired two years ago, the show was a blessing and a joy for many people.  For two years, the show has continued in syndication on NPR stations.

The key to their tremendous success, and the longevity of the show, was that they took radio talk and stripped it down to the basics.  The brothers dispensed advice regarding car repair, lacing their conversations with callers with pithy, witty repartee.and hyena-like laughter. 

In other words, they were Regular Guys.  Both over-educated (masters, Ph.D.s, etc.), but still they were just Average Joes.  Italian-Americans from Boston, they made no effort to sound "mid-Atlantic," and drop their Rs.  They had thick, Boston-Italiano accents--the accents weren't going anywhere--and we loved them for it...
This piece is about two things--related, of course.

The first is a wonderful piece of news about Longines and the Breeders' Cup.  If you read my writings regularly, you'll suspect (correctly) that the spin I'm putting on this delightful relationship goes beyond the concept of corporate sponsorship.

And the second part of the article--about Longines' gorgeous new watch--I'll share my thoughts on the concept of SEXY.  I hope you're intrigued.  If so, here we go...

It's October 8th, 2014, and by this time everyone in the world of international horse racing knows that Cigar, one of the world's greatest Thoroughbreds ever, has died.

Cigar Breeders' Cup.jpg
Race fans all know Cigar's background and statistics; I have nothing to contribute to the enormous body of knowledge about the magical horse's achievements.

The only things I have to offer are personal memories, but maybe those, too, will help add to the story of how this one extraordinary horse touched human souls, and give insight into the inner workings of such a horse of steel...
Effective immediately, I'm giving up my previous mission, of working to create a horse racing media empire and striving to help women become fully part of the sport's media landscape.  In my heart, that mission served as the foundation for my obsession to help save horses from slaughter, abuse and neglect, by getting more females involved in racing media and on the boards of racing organizations.

Forget that.  Yes, effective immediately, I'm overthrowing all previous vocational notions in favor of my True Calling.  I'm slapping on a coat of Chanel red lipstick.  I'm going to don a saucy black lace veil and acquire a large, bowling-ball-sized crystal ball.

Effective immediately, I'm trading in my laptop and microphone, and accepting my true role, as Horse Racing Psychic...
I shan't go into much detail--you can find the details elaborately laid out on the pages of my new website.

Yes, on Wednesday, September 10trh, a new horse racing cyberdestination was foaled, and her name is ...
A thought came to me a few minutes ago, and it's something I really must pursue.  If you're up to it, come along for the journey...
It seems that I have but three moods:  pensive,  pithy and pithed-off.

The thing that's making me both pensive and pithed-off this morning is the reality that the facts about horse racing in America are greatly exaggerated.   The Internet can be a terrible thing, and when hyper-emotional people are fed even the smallest nugget of half-truths--that small thing becomes so distorted that the original Truth no longer is visible, or even recognizable.

Obviously, I have nothing against being emotional.  I'm one of the most emotional people on the planet--especially when animals are concerned.  I cry when I kiss a horse.  I cry when my cat snuggles up to me after she's beaten me up with great satisfaction painted all over her lovely orange face.  I laugh heartily, often to the point of breathlessness.  And yes, I've been in love.

When I refer to "hyper-emotional" people--and God KNOWS I hate to generalize like this, especially against my own gender--but I've observed that  the overboarding is on the part of a middle-aged woman who has a basically good heart, but who needs to Get A Life.

Case in point:  whereas even 15 years ago, gossips depended on the phone or neighborhood chats to spread misinformation and unjustified rage--today, the one-billion-strong neighborhood of Facebook makes it possible to spread anger, lies and accusations like a contagion.  Perhaps the place should be renamed, Facebola...

Anyone who knows me knows that when something bugs me, I must express it or I'll explode, leaving shrapnel everywhere.

I don't want to explode, so I'll get right to it.  Let's start at the beginning of this phenomenon:  In October, 2007, I attended the races at Keeneland for the first time.

As we drove onto the property, my friend, Clay Robinson, explained a vision that confused me: acres and acres of young people (early, mid-20s), tailgating on the rolling hills of the property.

Young women, clad in dresses that barely covered What God Gave 'Em and stiletto heels, accentuating the length of their legs.  Young men who thought they looked special because they had donned Madras Bermuda shorts with their bow ties and navy-blue jackets.

Funny thing was, of course, that none of them looked special:  regardless of colors or patterns, they all looked the same.  

This, Clay explained, was a strange mating ritual, as predictable as the sun rising that morning...

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M.E. Altieri

Marion Altieri is a horse racing
life-long fan
radio show- and TV-show hostinista and
Her website, will bring together URLs for this blog with her radio, TV and online magazine publishing endeavors. The 'site also will feature a Marketplace, Community and opps to exchange ideas about women in racing; equine welfare and rights and ways to make the sport both more nurturing for horses and more egalitarian for females.

First a wordsmith, Marion is acutely aware of the power of language: as we speak and write, so we live. If language has the power to start and end wars, so too it has the power to save the lives of horses

A f!lly is not a little grrrl horse: a f!lly is a Force of Nature, and through her work, Marion hopes to help reinforce this powerful Truth.


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.