Saratoga Horse Racing

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Here in the United States, this coming Thursday (November 28th) is a holiday we call, Thanksgiving.

I'm sure that every country in the world has a similar holiday:  a day set aside to thank God for all we have--for all whom we love--for health, joy, life and peace.  (Theoretically, that's the idea, anyway.)

The Race Track Chaplaincy of America / New York Division once again will do two really wonderful Thanksgiving-ish things for the people whom they serve with great love, 365 days a year.  I've just taken the NYRA (New York Racing Association) press release that I received a few minutes ago--jijjed it up a bit--and highlighted contact info for both donors and media.

No fancy pictures--not even NYRA or RTCANY logos in this one:  my computer had a cerebral hemorrhage this week, and I'm using a loaner until or unless my laptop can be fixed. So this is a bare-bones article--I hope that you don't need pretty pictures or logos--I hope that words are enough to convince you to care.  And if you care...perhaps you'll decide to help.

Thanks for reading, folks--have a wonderful, blessed Thanksgiving, wherever you are.  And if you're not in America on Thursday, November 28th--heck, celebrate with us, anyway!  Have a turkey, tofurkey or sprouts sandwich, and thank God for all you've got. 

Juliet Harrison Track Life Cover.JPGI'm searching for some new adjectives.  I know so many equine photographers--some are good; a few are great and a handful have talents that are otherworldly.  Heaven-sent.  God-given talents.

So I'm sick to death of hearing, reading or writing that so-and-so is "gifted." "Passionate," or "talented." All are adjectives that have been used to death--either because all are words that perfectly describe the abilities of an artist--or because the writer doing the describing doesn't know all-that-many big words.

If you come up with any better adjectives to describe a photographer who approaches every horse as if s/he is sacred...every moment of life as if it's precious...please share.  I need some new describers.  That said, I'd like to introduce you to the works of an equine photographer with whom you may be familiar already.  Forgive me if you're already a fan, or friend of Juliet Harrison.  

But if you are not-yet familiar with her works, her art and her heart--allow me to include you in this invitation to a par-tay on Saturday.  This par-tay will celebrate the launch of 92 pages of Juliet's gorgeous, soulful photographs and the words of some pretty terrific--dare I say, "renowne"--writers.

You should meet Juliet if you don't know her already. Ergo, you should head on out to Oblong  Books in Rhinebeck, New York this Saturday, the 16th, for the launch of Juliet's first coffee table book with her new Publisher.  

More on that in a minute.  First, about the artist:

I laud Juliet, for she is a strong, warrior woman spirit--she's had trials and tribulations, as do many of us--but instead of lying down, rolling over and surrendering--she picks up her camera and her heart and finds a horse in whose soul to nestle, and records that experience, to share with the rest of us.  

Juliet Harrison is an artist's artist--and her first coffee table book, "Track Life:  Images and Words" will launch this coming Saturday (November 16, 2013) at Oblong Books in Rhinebeck, New York...

Happy Breeders' Cup Friday:  November 1, 2013.  I could write an entire book about how the BC has become bloated--about the fact that f!llies and mares--like women in horse racing--are tossed into the back seat.  Again.

But that's another rant, for another day.  (And believe me, I WILL rant about it at some point in the very-near future.)

But today's column is my effort to get you, the race fan--the betting public--the lover of horses, and of the sport of racing them--to watch a race that will split your hearts wide-open. A race on which you can BET your brains out.  A race of beautiful, elegant, historic horses--the very foundation of the Thoroughbred breed.

Yes, today at Santa Anita, under the banner of the Breeders' Cup--Arabian horses will race in the President of the United Arab Emirates Cup Invitational, and you're invited...
OK, so here's the deal.  Every year for the last several years, NYRA (the New York Racing Association) has hosted a wildly-successful Fabulous Fillies' Day at Saratoga Race Course.

Fans come out in droves to celebrate women in horse racing.  For one glorious day, it seems that we womenfolk take over the track.  (News Alert:  we're the majority in horse racing, every day of the year.  More admissions are paid at horse race tracks than by men, year-in and year-out.  Word.)

But on Fabulous Fillies' Day--maybe more people become aware of us.  And that's a wonderful thing.  Maybe more folks come to appreciate us more.  That's really groovy.

And maybe on Fabulous Fillies' Day--there's a sea of pink, and the place looks and feels even-more festive than usual.  (And if you've ever been to Saratoga Race Course during the race meet, you know that, even in the pouring rain--it's still The Happiest Place on Earth.  Disney be damned.)

So imagine a Saratoga that's all Pretty in Pink for one beautiful day...

Fabulous Fillies' Day at Belmont Park October 5 2013.jpg

Hey, Gang,

Well, I am up to my retinal orbs with things to write for this column...reflections on the Saratoga meet that was...things about horse retirement and rescue...a slew of thoughts that I must process first, before I commit them to paper--er, to screen.
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But in the meantime:  if you think that, SOB, racing is over in New York State simply because Saratoga Race Course is closed for the are wrong. 

NYRA continues to bring world-class racing in the great Northeast--which, I'm sure, can be viewed by simulcast and therefore, bet upon--virtually anywhere on the planet.

I won't give it all away, but rather allow the NYRA press release speak.  (Black highlighting and formatting are mine--you know me by now, it's my way of really, really emphasizing something.)   It all begins this coming Saturday, September 7th.  A beautiful day for a drive from anywhere, to Elmont, New York...

The Facebook invitation reads thus:

Come join us for an evening of fun and fellowship on Friday, August 16th in the Courtyard of The Inn at Saratoga, from 5PM - 9PM.  Show your support for an amazing organization dedicate to animal welfare, and to promoting low-cost spay/neuter services.  Check out our display on "The Oklahoma Cats," our program with NYRA and a benevolent horse owner, to care for the feral cats at the historic Saratoga Race Course.

Tickets for the Raining Cats and Dogs Gala are $40 per person ($45 at the door), and include wine an beer tasting tables; a light fare buffet an live music.  In the spirit of racing season, place your bi on one of our amazing Silent Auction items! 

If you love animals and want to show your support, this event is not to be missed!!!  

So on the surface, it sounds like another nice social event during the hectic Saratoga racing and social season.  And on the surface, also, it may not seem to be related directly to horses or horse racing--or does it?  Read on, O Friends, and I'll explain to you why you should attend this party.  If you don't do anything social the rest of the Saratoga meet, this is all you need to have fun, spend hardly-a-thing, and do tremendous good for a population that's rarely considered...

I'm going to get the bare facts out there first, so you don't have to pretend to read this whole thing, just to find the details.

NYRA Pink Ribbon Logo.JPG
On Wednesday, August 14th, NYRA (the New York Racing Association) will host Fabulous Fillies' Day at Saratoga Race Course. Everyone who wears PINK will be granted free grandstand admission.  (I'm certain that this includes men and boys--it would be reverse chauvinism, otherwise.) 


So!  You decide to blow off work, and hit the track with your best Grrlfriends.  Y'all wear PINK, and get in for free.  Sounds like fun already, right? 

But wait, as they say, there's more...
Are you a woman or girl?
Do you love horses, and horse racing?

Good!  Then Wednesday, August 14th, 2013 may be one of the most important days of your life, for several reasons:

August 14th, you see, is Fabulous Fillies' Day at Saratoga Race Course--a day when women in horse racing will be celebrated, nurtured, educated and entertained... 

Grayson-Jockey Club LOGO.jpgI hope that y'all know me well enough by now, to know that if there's anything I can do to help a horse--I will.  I have to admit that, if a decision had to be made--to save my Uncle Ray or save a horse--the horse wins every time.  Equines are my preferred species:  I've yet to meet a human who loves unconditionally; is beautiful, intelligent and utterly loyal as The Horse.

And you probably know me well enough to know that there's only one sport other than horse racing that I can watch and not want to pluck out my own eyeballs. Golf. My Mother and I used to love watching golf together: it's quiet, cordial (generally speaking) and genteel.  No screaming fans, and no one paints their half-nekkid chest the colors of their favorite duffer.  

It seems that most horsewomen and horsemen, when they're not at their barns prepping horses for races or sales--is somewhere on a golf course, putting away.  No doubt after the cacophony of a race track, they need golf to re-connect with that focus and Zen space in their heads.  I'm sure that a lot of horse business gets done on a golf course, as well.

So when I heard that the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation is hosting their 13th Annual Charity Golf Tournament on Tuesday, August 13 at Saratoga National Golf Club...immediately I thought..."I don't golf"...

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Saratoga merchandise logo 2013.jpgToday we media folks received the full run-down of all the activities that will take place on August 3, 2013 at Saratoga Race Course.

It's August.  It's early in the meet, still. Four weeks to go, including Travers Weekend.

But August 3, 2013 happens to be the exact date of the founding of horse racing in this practically-holy spot, 150 years ago.  The Civil War was raging in Gettysburg.  My Grandpa, Charlie Gardner was shot in the hand in that battle.  And 365 miles north, in the town of Saratoga Springs, New York--not too far from Grandpa Charlie's home--horse racing in America had found a permanent home.  

(No doubt, Uncle Charlie would've rather been in Saratoga than Pennsylvania that day.)

So August 3 is the actual birthday of our beloved track in Saratoga.  From those hopeful beginnings grew the most magnificently beautiful race track in the world.  

The prestige and power of racing in Saratoga cannot be overestimated:  to have Saratoga on your racing resume, means that you've arrived.

Come with me to the list of events that will transpire tomorrow, and get excited.  
Get horse-crazy with excitement.

Decide that--whatever else you had planned--just isn't important. It's not often that everyone on Earth is invited to participate in an historic moment.  Wherever you are, however you get here--get here.  

Saratoga Race Course has donned her best party dress--we're celebrating the grand old grrrl--and you're on the guest list...

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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, 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.