What’s one thing summer should be about? Besides salty hair and sand found in your purse on a Wednesday and sticky-from-popsicles sunkissed skin, of course?
Spontaneity. And I’m bad at that. In almost all cases, I’m a planner, and summer days especially I feel I have to fill to the brim as to not waste them. So LET ME TELL YOU how proud I am of myself for jumping on the opportunity to take a last minute road trip to Saratoga Springs to go to the horse race track. And by spontaneous I mean that this was planned in three weeks or less. It’s progress, people.
But back story and personal flaws aside, it ended up being one of the best weekends of our summer. Sun and seersucker and horses and drinks and new friends = I’m game.
The Saratoga Race Course is open every day except Tuesday between July 19 and September 1 [ish– dates may vary slightly by year]. For six summer weeks, the grounds turn into a full-on backyard party. You can go to the track itself to watch any of the day’s ten races, but in between you see people of all ages picnicking, meeting the race horses and ponies, making new friends, sharing their beers… it’s the kind of place families go for generations, special because of the tradition. For just a $5 entrance fee, it’s a classic summertime activity that the whole family can find value in.
The gracious team at America’s Best Racing hosted us for the day… sharing with us the history of the course, breaking down the betting, showing us the paddock and introducing us to the jockeys. I’ve always loved getting dressed up for the Derby, celebrating and watching the Triple Crown races, but after visiting Saratoga, I truly have a new appreciation for the sport. So much more goes into it than I realized, and I LOVE how old the tradition is– the Saratoga course first opened in 1863, making it the second oldest racetrack in the country!
Our hosts, Dan and Victoria, also went above and beyond to make sure our first experience with live racing was a blast– they both grew up surrounded by horse racing, so it was especially great to hear their stories, and now current involvement with ABR.
But of course, the fashions, too, really struck my fancy.
The funniest thing was the array of attire. While some folks were dressed to the nines–derby hats and seersucker suits and all–you saw lots of families in the clothes they’d wear to any backyard BBQ.
[ my winning jockey… #heyo ]
It was such a fun day and I can’t wait to go back. Might just need to work on my gambling before then… my whopping $1.40 didn’t exactly cover the gas mileage from Boston 😛
Have you been to any races? Saratoga?
[ Saratoga Race Course ]
[ 267 Union Ave ]
[ Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 ]
Full disclosure: I was provided with complimentary admission to the races by ABR. All opinions expressed are my own.