Time-travel with me, if you will: it’s July of 1863, and the Battle of Gettysburg (Pennsylvania, USA)–the bloodiest battle in American history–has just taken place. Mass casualties on both sides. The country was hurting–neither the North nor the South was gloating after the enormous loss of life. Uncommon valor and sheer guts were the only things that kept some men alive in the days following, as litters of broken bodies, housing broken souls, were carried off the battlefield.
Imagine the sweltering heat of August 1863: whether you were in New York, Boston or Philadelphia–those hoop skirts, stifling corsets and gentlemen’s topcoats were a recipe for swooning–that is, passing out from heat exhaustion, and the inability to breathe.
And…BOOM! Like the Big Bang at Moment One, from this one conversation, and the need for two friends who had everything–but craved the thrill that comes from whipping the tar out of your best friend–grew the oldest and most-respected sporting venue of any kind in the United States, and therefore, the oldest racetrack in America.
The names on the Saratoga150 Committee are illustrious, but that’s not the point, or the Big Deal here. The Big Deal is that these people–hard workers, all, who built businesses, racing stables and the city of Saratoga Springs, itself–are taking a year-and-a-half of their lives to create the greatest birthday party in the history of horse racing.
Saratoga Race Course Clubhouse photo and Saratoga Logo: Thanks to NYRA/Adam Coglianese