Years ago the Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, NY, was a closed unconnected property, no telephones in public areas, no TV, no connections to the outside world were allowed while the races took place.
The times they are a changing albeit it slowly, at all three New York race tracks, Belmont, Aqueduct and our favorite, Saratoga, in beautiful Saratoga Springs, NY.
Health. History. Horses. It is those three words that greet all who enter Saratoga Springs, and it is those three words (coincidentally and conveniently all starting with the letter “H”) that capture the spirit of this great town. Of course, special emphasis will be placed on the third “H” (Horses), since this summer marks the sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) of racing at the Saratoga Race Course.
To celebrate, there are numerous events planned from May through September. One in particular that is worth noting is the equestrian film festival slated for June 11-‐13. Presented by Skidmore College and The Saratoga Film Forum, this special presentation will be held at Skidmore’s Arthur Zankel Music Center. Typically used for musical performances, this beautifully designed and acoustically-‐tuned venue will be no less fitting for these screenings.
First, Tuesday, June 11 at 7:30 pm will have a screening of Seabiscuit. Set during the Great Depression, this film tells the true story of the horse that reached unexpected greatness in the racing world, and became a symbol of hope to many Americans. Nominated in 2003 for seven Academy awards (including Best Picture), Seabiscuit stars Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, and Elizabeth Banks.
Following on Wednesday, June 12 at 7:30 pm will be a screening of Secretariat. Chronicling the life of the first thoroughbred race horse to win The Triple Crown in 25 years (as of 1973), this film depicts the struggle that Secretariat’s owner (Penny Chenery) faced from the foreign and male-‐dominated world of horse racing in order to foster a champion. Produced by Walt Disney Pictures, Secretariat stars Diane Lane and John Malkovich.
Last but not least will be a screening of Saratoga on Thursday, June 13 at 7:30 pm. Originally released in 1937 when Seabiscuit was actually racing, this romantic comedy film stars Clark Gable (who went on to star in Gone with the Wind) as bookie Duke Bradley, who acquires the deed to a stud farm in lieu of the gambling debts of Frank Clayton. He soon meets Frank’s daughter Carol Clayton (Jean Harlow), and develops an eye for her despite her recent engagement to another man. Despite Harlow’s sudden death of kidney failure during the making of Saratoga, it went on to be MGM’s biggest moneymaker of 1937.
Both Seabiscuit and Saratoga had portions filmed in Saratoga Springs. Following the June 13 screening, there will be a talk by Saratoga Film Forum local historians and history teachers, Dave Patterson and Charlie Kuenzel, about the role of Saratoga and the track in classic American films.
Admission is FREE with a Saratoga 150 Lapel Medallion or a Saratoga ARTSFEST pass, otherwise general admission can be purchased for $5. For more information about this event and many others taking place throughout the summer please visit Saratoga 150.
During six weeks of every summer, Saratoga Springs plays host to thousands of visitors hoping to win big on their wagers at the Saratoga Race Course. But should you find yourself in Saratoga Springs and feeling lucky during any of the other 46 weeks of the year, look no further than the Saratoga Casino and Raceway—informally known as the Racino.
Upon entering, one is quickly greeted with the dinging of slot machines (apparently over 1,700 of them!). Scattered throughout, there are many choices—with themes like Wheel of Fortune, Sex in the City, and The Hangover—that will offer you a fun time and possibly make you some quick bucks in the process. In addition to slots, they offer video poker, progressives, and Keno; and for the Vegas savvy, they offer electronic table games like Roulette, Craps, and Baccarat.
If it is your first time, do not forget to stop by the Player Extras Club before beginning your winning streak. By signing up for a FREE card, you can earn rewards depending on how much you play.
Not to worry if machine gambling is not your thing: it is called the RACE-ino for a reason. Live harness racing takes place March through mid-December on their very own half-mile track. Race fans can also watch and wager on simulcast races from across the country.
By now you have probably worked up quite an appetite from all of your victory laps around the gaming floor. If you are looking for something quick to get you right back to the slots, Lucky Joe’s offers pizza, grilled sandwiches, salads, and other choices to satisfy your hunger. For true variety and VALUE, the Garden Buffet offers all kinds of tastes: Italian, Asian, American, and Southwestern cuisines, as well as a carving station, salad bar, and an array of delicious desserts. Last but not least, Fortunes is a nice sit down restaurant that not only offers mouth-watering meals, but also features trackside dining to allow amazing views of the live harness racing and includes the ability to place tableside wagers. Nothing like having the meal paid for by your winning horse.
Just when you think there is nothing left to do at the Racino, night falls and Vapor Nightclub starts pulsing. Every Friday night features a great party band that is guaranteed to get your feet moving on the floor. Then on Saturdays, Vapor maintains true nightclub status with DJ’s who know how to spin the vinyl and give you a good beat.
So if you find yourself feeling lucky or looking for somewhere to have fun while staying at our Saratoga Springs hotel, head on over to Saratoga Casino and Raceway. Open 7 days a week from 9am to 4am, they are very likely to be open when you want to go!
Saratoga Springs is the summer place to be. And many flock to this wonderful upstate New York town to see the thoroughbred racing at the Saratoga Race Course. But what can you do if you don’t bet? We have come up with our Top-10 list of great Things To Do at the track even if you’re not a gambler:
1-People watch - Saratoga is the place for fancy hats and people dressed to the nines. You could get lost all day in watching the festive crowds.
2-Dress up or not - Do you want to get all dressed up in your finest clothes and have a seat in the Clubhouse, or are you interested in wearing shorts and sitting at a picnic table with a cooler? The great thing about the Saratoga races is that you can do both, although preferably not on the same day.
3-Play the name game, the color game, or the number game - While you may not be a gambler, it’s always fun to get caught up in the most exciting 2 minutes in sports. You don’t have to be a horse handicapper, as we’ve noticed that sometimes the biggest winners are those who know nothing about horse racing! Just play what you know – favorite number is 9, favorite color is yellow and diamonds are a favorite jewel. Put $10 across the board on the number 9 and who knows, you might come home a winner.
4-Spot a celebrity - Saratoga has been known to have the cast from The Sopranos in the winner’s circle. A certain cast member from Entourage owns a share in a Saratoga restaurant and a certain former NY Giants coach is seen at the track throughout the meet. Who can you spot?
5-Great Music - There’s a different musical act out in the general admission area each racing day. And who knows, you could kick up your feet as well.
6-Sample the Food and Drink - From the famous fried chicken from local favorite (and winner of the Bobby Flay Throwdown competition) Hattie’s, to famous NYC restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack, there’s something for everyone’s appetite. And don’t forget the Saratoga Race Track’s signature cocktail, The Saratoga Sunrise. It’s a perfect thirst quencher for a summer day.
7-View the Paddock Area - Want to see these horses a bit closer up? The paddock area is where the horses get saddled, the jockeys are given final instructions from their trainers and you can get a first glimpse of the horses prior to the race.
8-Get a Jockey’s Autograph - These athletes are quite accessible after their race. They dismount their horses at the finish line and walk through the crowd back towards the Jockey quarters. Do you have a little one at home that would love an autograph? The jockeys are usually quite accommodating. Hint: pick the winning jockey and ask them to sign the race page of your program.
9-Sample the Big Red Spring - Our upstate city is known for having curative spring water. There are many free-flowing springs within the downtown area and the Saratoga Spa State Park. And there’s also one within the Race Course grounds. On the far side of the paddock is the Big Red Spring. Bring a cup, take a sip…maybe your aches and pains will subside.
10-Cross it off your Bucket List - Sports Illustrated named the Saratoga Race Course one of the Top 10 sporting venues of the 20th century. We couldn’t agree more!
Have you made your booking? Come see why Saratoga is called “The Summer Place To Be” while you enjoy your stay at Saratoga Arms!
Marta Glazen of Cleveland, Ohio, won the 19th annual Saratoga Hat Contest, on Sunday, July 25, 2010, in Saratoga Springs. She took first place and won a silver plate trophy, clubhouse lunch for two and a $500 betting voucher. Marta was a guest at Saratoga Arms and “wowed” all of our breakfast guests when she came down from her room ready to head out to the track. This is the second year in a row that Marta has won the contest. Marta is a professional though…She owns a hat shop in Ohio!!
The New York Times, Joe Drape, has confirmed that super filly and Preakness winner, Rachel Alexandra, will race against the boys again the the Woodward Stakes here in Saratoga on Saturday, September 5th. Saratoga Arms does have limited availability left for that weekend (Labor Day) and would welcome anyone who would like to continue to watch history. Run like a girl Rachel!!!