Saratoga Horse Racing

Recently in Mare's Musings Category

Dear Mucho Macho Man,

This is just one of 30,000 letters you'll receive from admirers--don't worry, big boy, I don't expect you to write back.  You have fans from all over the world, and I'm just one little person who loves you.  But even though your new stall at Adena Springs is probably covered in cards and gifts, still I feel compelled to write to you and tell you how your life and journey have affected my own.

You just retired from horse racing, and I wish you well.  You turned six in June--you've raced for over half your life to-date,and you earned your way into the pantheon of Great Horses.  I wept buckets when I read the news, and sporadically through the night every time I read your name.  It was as if water was just falling out of my eyes, with no shut-off valve.

I had to sit down and pinpoint the reason why I'm so touched by this announcement.

First, I don't want to be selfish:  I wish you a beautiful life working at Adena Springs, and many perfect, swift babies to carry on your legacy.  Perhaps one day I'll be able to buy one of them, and have a bit of you for my very own.  Of course, for me to be able to buy a 3M baby would mean that my own career would soar.  And that is where our life paths cross:  my life and your true legacy, Macho.  (May I call you, "Macho"?)  

The reason for my crying is entirely selfish:  you've been a partner to me during life's ups and downs for several years now, and I am so sad to lose you...

Like so many of those who find themselves in the category,  nouveau riche, the comedy team of Martin and Coburn (Perry Martin and Steve Coburn)  are struggling with both their new-found fame and figuring out how to juggle that fame with fortune and the ownership of a wonderful Thoroughbred.   

California Chrome earned a boatload of cash for them, and like drunken sailors on shore leave--they don't know when to stop.

In fact, it appears that they can't get enough of the stupidity, 'cause they keep on opening their yaps and sticking their big-ole cowboy boots in 'em.  You don't need me to recap the events that have led us to today--everyone even vaguely connected to horse racing knows the tail of the tale. But you might enjoy my take on the poo-storm, and the solution to the problem that we're going to call...Muck Dynasty...
Sometimes I have the memory of a fruitfly.  Hence, I cannot recall if I've already shared this with you, my dear readers.

If I have--ah, well.  
If not--I hope that this little tale blesses you in some way.

With the Saratoga meet--and with it, the Travers--upon us, I feel compelled to share.

Last year, I wrote this article, which was destined to become part of equine photographer, Juliet Harrison's new coffee table book,"Track Life:  Images and Words."  I've always been grateful that Juliet asked me to contribute a Saratoga memory, because this particular thought came to mind.

Sans further ado, here it is.  I hope you like it...

My mind has been all a-whirl during the last two weeks.  Every day as I work to outline the articles in my Belmont Journal and get them online, I remember something else that happened during Belmont Stakes Week, or someone else I met.  I don't want to omit a single moment or encounter.  I want to tell y'all all about it.

But one thing sticks out in my mind this morning--something about Belmont Stakes Day, itself.  This is a thought from which I cannot escape and so I must write about it today, here, now: 

Horse Racing should be the most popular sport in America--in the world--if for no other reason than that it's the most financially and emotionally accessible sport on Earth...

It's Preakness Day, 2014.  Every turf writer worth her/his salt has written ad infinitum about California Chrome--his Triple Crown bid--and the "nerve" of Ria Antonia,daring to "take on the boyz."

I have absolutely nothing to contribute to Preakness-themed conversations, except for my rant here a few days ago about sexism in American horse racing. So what shall I write today?

Sometimes topics happen, and we writerly folks have to paddle quickly to accommodate a story that must be told.  Sadly, is one of those times...

As I write this, NBC Sports' coverage of 2014 Black-Eyed Susan Day has commenced.  

Much to my joy and blessing, they kicked off the coverage at 3PM (Eastern/New York Time) with the vid of Queen Rachel Alexandra's awesome victory in the Preakness Stakes on May 16, 2014.  I wasn't necessarily expecting to see that race--at least not at that moment.  (I hope they show it again tomorrow, on Preakness Stakes' Day.)

Perhaps my strong reaction was the result of my surprise.  Or maybe it's deeper than that...maybe it's Love...
Today it was announced that Thoroughbred, Ria Antonia, will race in Saturday's Preakness Stakes.  The first thought that went through my head was, "Aw, jeez.  Here it comes..."
Kentucky has Bourbon and Big Hats.
Baltimore has the insanely-valuable Preakness Trophy.
But New York...well, we've got Cool...
Well, well, well.  It seems that, no matter how hard they try--Churchill Downs, that is, CDI, the corporate giant that owns Churchill Downs and therefore, the Kentucky Derby--keeps stepping in it.

In fact, it appears that CDI's responsible for the big pile into which they keep stepping.  In the space of 10 days or so, they've managed to alienate virtually everyone who actually matters in horse racing.  Except, that is, the bimbo starlets whom they pay to attend the races for a couple of days in May...
So much has been written about me in the last week, and will be written about my tribe of equines in the near future.  Concerned about my welfare and that of members of my society, humans are all up in arms today, worried--ranting and reporting--bout our welfare.

And we appreciate that--really, we do.  

But it strikes us that the problem really is more complicated than the media would have us believe:

*  Everyone's acting like this is a revelation, that allegedly, a horse trainer did bad things to members of my tribe.  

*  Everyone's acting like allegations such as these happen only in Thoroughbred racing. 

*  Every time something like this happens, humans get all fuss-and-feathers, and start squawking that this is a "wake-up call," as if it's the first time anyone has heard of anything like it.

*  Horse racing is not the only sport that uses members of my equine tribe, and yet it's been singled out as being satan, incarnate.  YES, the sport IS in dire need of fixing.  You humans have GOT to get your act together, and put us--noting but us--first and foremost.  Otherwise, all this ridiculous, political infighting will keep men in blue suits rich and us, unprotected.

*  We haven't heard about an expose in any major newspaper "busting wide open" the disgusting, evil practice of soring.  

*  And the "New York  Times" has printed several articles that side with the New York City horse carriage trade.   

From our perspective--this is wildly inconsistent.  Either you care about the welfare of ALL we horses--or you don't.   Either the "Times" is a real newspaper--or it has an agenda far-deeper than exposing horse abuse.  And that agenda, itself, should be investigated.  Is the "Times" receiving money from some politician who hates horse racing?  Does the paper need simply to sell more rags?

And I'm thinking  that horse carriage drivers don't dine in five-star restaurants, so the perks of investigating them aren't as cool as hanging with Thoroughbred trainers.   (The "Times" does a lot of citing of veterinarians and quotes by carriage drivers who  lament the possible loss of their careers and their lifestyles.  Hmmmm...)

It's obvious to us that you humans can't decide which horse welfare causes are worthy of your time, and which can be swept under the rug.  Your priorities are as messed up as your human society, itself.

So I have decided that the time had come for me to tell you about myself, and about members of my tribe.  Clearly, you people need some education.  And you need to realize that the American attitude about horse welfare for ALL horses must be changed, or nothing will change, at all...

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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.