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Saratoga Race Course

Saratoga Race Course

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Saratoga Race Course is a Thoroughbred horse racing track in Saratoga Springs
Saratoga Springs, New York
Saratoga Springs, also known as simply Saratoga, is a city in Saratoga County, New York, United States. The population was 26,586 at the 2010 census. The name reflects the presence of mineral springs in the area. While the word "Saratoga" is known to be a corruption of a Native American name, ...

, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. It opened on August 3, 1863, and is the oldest organized sporting venue of any kind in the United States. It is typically open for racing from late July through early September.

History




John Hunter, who became the first chairman of The Jockey Club
The Jockey Club
The Jockey Club, formed on February 9, 1894, is the keeper of The American Stud Book. It came into existence after James R. Keene spearheaded a drive in support of racehorse trainers who had complained about the Board of Control that governed racing in New York State.-History:On its formation, The...

, and William R. Travers
William R. Travers
William Riggin Travers was an American lawyer who made a fortune on Wall Street. A well-known cosmopolite and high liver, Travers was a member of 27 private clubs, according to Cleveland Amory in his book Who Killed Society?-Biography:He was born in 1819.Along with John Hunter, in 1863 he founded...

 built Saratoga Race Course. The original track was built across Union Avenue from the present Saratoga Race Course at the current location of the Oklahoma Track (training track originally named Horse Haven), which opened the following year. Since 1864 the track has been the site of the Travers Stakes
Travers Stakes
The Travers Stakes is an American Grade I Thoroughbred horse race held at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York.First held in 1864, it was named for William R. Travers, the president of the old Saratoga Racing Association. His horse, Kentucky, won the first running of the Travers...

, the oldest major thoroughbred horse race
Thoroughbred horse race
Thoroughbred horse racing is a worldwide sport and industry involving the racing of Thoroughbred horses. It is governed by different national bodies. There are two forms of the sport: Flat racing and National Hunt racing...

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, which is the main draw of the annual summer race meeting. The Saratoga meet originally consisted of only four days, but over time was lengthened, and for many years, the meet lasted for four weeks. In the 1990s it was lengthened to five weeks. Today it is a six-week meeting ending on Labor Day. In 2009, The New York Racing Association
New York Racing Association
The New York Racing Association, Inc. is the not-for-profit corporation that operates the three largest thoroughbred horse-racing tracks in the state of New York. It runs Aqueduct Racetrack in South Ozone Park, Queens, Belmont Park in Elmont, Long Island , and Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga...

 (NYRA) extended the 2010 racing meet by 4 days to a total of 40 days of racing during each meet from then forward. From 1943 to 1945, racing was not held at Saratoga Race Course due to travel restrictions during the war. During those years, the stakes races that would have been run at Saratoga Race Course were contested at Belmont Park
Belmont Park
Belmont Park is a major thoroughbred horse-racing facility located in Elmont in the Town of Hempstead in Nassau County, New York, on Long Island adjoining New York City. It first opened on May 4, 1905...

 instead.

Saratoga Race Course has two well-known nicknames -- The Spa (for the nearby mineral springs), and the "Graveyard of Champions" (for the upsets that have occurred there). Man o' War
Man O' War
Man O' War, man o' war or manowar may refer to:* Man-of-war, a warship* Man of war for uses with this spelling - Places :...

 suffered his only defeat in twenty one starts while racing at Saratoga Race Course; Secretariat
Secretariat (horse)
Secretariat was an American Thoroughbred racehorse, that in 1973 became the first U.S. Triple Crown champion in 25 years, setting new race records in two of the three events in the Series—the Kentucky Derby , and the Belmont Stakes —records that still stand today.Secretariat was sired by Bold...

  was defeated at Saratoga Race Course by Onion after winning the Triple Crown; and Gallant Fox
Gallant Fox
Gallant Fox was a United States Thoroughbred horseracing champion.Foaled at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky by Sir Gallahad III out of the mare Marguerite, Gallant Fox was a bay colt who became the second horse to win the U.S...

 was beaten by 100-1 longshot Jim Dandy in the 1930 Travers Stakes.

In 1999, Saratoga Race Course was rated as Sports Illustrated's #10 sports venue of the 20th Century.

The track was closed for the fifth time in its history on August 28, 2011 when Hurricane Irene
Hurricane Irene (2011)
Hurricane Irene was a large and powerful Atlantic hurricane that left extensive flood and wind damage along its path through the Caribbean, the United States East Coast and as far north as Atlantic Canada in 2011...

 hit the area. Previously it had closed on August 2, 2006 due to a heat wave
2006 North American heat wave
The 2006 North American heat wave spread throughout most of the United States and Canada beginning on July 15, 2006, killing at least 225 people. That day the temperature reached 117 °F in Pierre, South Dakota, with many places in South Dakota that hit well into the 120s. A 130 degree...

 which had hit the Eastern Seaboard and for three entire seasons during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 and in 1911 and 1912 when it was not economically viable following New York State legislation enacted by the administration of Governor Charles Evans Hughes
Charles Evans Hughes
Charles Evans Hughes, Sr. was an American statesman, lawyer and Republican politician from New York. He served as the 36th Governor of New York , Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States , United States Secretary of State , a judge on the Court of International Justice , and...

 which outlawed all forms of wagering on horse racing.

Physical attributes



As is the case with the other two tracks operated by the New York Racing Association
New York Racing Association
The New York Racing Association, Inc. is the not-for-profit corporation that operates the three largest thoroughbred horse-racing tracks in the state of New York. It runs Aqueduct Racetrack in South Ozone Park, Queens, Belmont Park in Elmont, Long Island , and Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga...

 — Aqueduct
Aqueduct Racetrack
Aqueduct Racetrack is a thoroughbred horse-racing facility and racino in Ozone Park, Queens, New York. Its racing meets usually are from late October/early November through April.-History:...

 and Belmont Park
Belmont Park
Belmont Park is a major thoroughbred horse-racing facility located in Elmont in the Town of Hempstead in Nassau County, New York, on Long Island adjoining New York City. It first opened on May 4, 1905...

 — there are three separate tracks in the main course at Saratoga Race Course:
  • A main (dirt) track, which, like that at Aqueduct, has a mile (1,811 m) circumference;
  • A 1 mile 98 feet outer turf
    Grass
    Grasses, or more technically graminoids, are monocotyledonous, usually herbaceous plants with narrow leaves growing from the base. They include the "true grasses", of the Poaceae family, as well as the sedges and the rushes . The true grasses include cereals, bamboo and the grasses of lawns ...

     track known officially as the Mellon Turf Course, in honor of the Mellon family, whose members include prominent Thoroughbred owner/breeder Paul Mellon
    Paul Mellon
    Paul Mellon KBE was an American philanthropist, thoroughbred racehorse owner/breeder. He is one of only five people ever designated an "Exemplar of Racing" by the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame...

     and his father Andrew Mellon, a former United States
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

     Treasury Secretary;
  • An inner turf track, the circumference of which is 26 feet (7.9 m) shorter than 7 furlong
    Furlong
    A furlong is a measure of distance in imperial units and U.S. customary units equal to one-eighth of a mile, equivalent to 220 yards, 660 feet, 40 rods, or 10 chains. The exact value of the furlong varies slightly among English-speaking countries....

    s (1,509 m).

Steeplechase
Steeplechase (horse racing)
The steeplechase is a form of horse racing and derives its name from early races in which orientation of the course was by reference to a church steeple, jumping fences and ditches and generally traversing the many intervening obstacles in the countryside...

 races are also run at Saratoga Race Course and may take place on either of the turf courses, depending on the distance of the race. Additionally, there is the Oklahoma Training Track, which is across Union Ave. from the main course. It is used for warmups and training. The Oklahoma track site was the original track used for racing from 1863 until 1909, (then known as Horse Haven) when the currently-used grandstand track was opened.

A former distinctive feature of Saratoga Race Course's dirt track was the Wilson Mile chute
Chute (racecourse)
In horse racing, the term chute refers to an extended path increasing the length of a straight portion of a racecourse, particularly an oval-shaped one, allowing races of a specified distance to start at a location other than on one of the turns....

, which branched off from the clubhouse (first) turn at a 90 degree angle. After the 1971 meeting, its use was suspended; following a brief resumption during the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was dismantled, leaving no distance available for dirt races at one mile. A similarly-designed chute is still in use at Ellis Park Racecourse, a racetrack in Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

, and is the only such chute of its kind that can be found at any North American track today.

The grounds at Saratoga Race Course contain several unique features. Patrons can get close up views of the horses being led to the paddock as the path from the stables runs through the picnic grounds. There is a mineral spring called the Big Red Spring in the picnic grounds where patrons can partake of the water that made Saratoga Springs famous. A gazebo is a prominent feature on the infield and a stylized version of the gazebo is part of Saratoga Race Course logo.

Saratoga Race Course is rich with tradition. A lake in the middle of the track contains a canoe that is painted annually in the colors of the winning stable for that year's Travers Stakes winner. Also, prior to each race a bell is hand rung at exactly 17 minutes prior to scheduled post time for each race. This is to call the jockeys to the paddock.

A new addition in recent years has been "twilight racing", where the first race post time is at 2:45 PM. After its introduction in 2006, it was expanded to the first and last Friday of the meet.

Racing



The following are Graded stakes race
Graded stakes race
A graded stakes race is a term applied since 1973 by the American Graded Stakes Committee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association to thoroughbred horse races in the United States and Canada to describe races that derive their name from the stake, or entry fee, owners must pay...

s run at Saratoga:
  • Grade I Stakes races:
    • Alabama Stakes
      Alabama Stakes
      The Alabama Stakes is an American Thoroughbred horse race open to three-year-old fillies. Inaugurated in 1872, the Grade I race is run over a distance of one and one-quarter miles on the dirt track at Saratoga Race Course. Held in mid August, it currently offers a purse of $500,000...

    • Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap
      Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap
      The Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap is an American Thoroughbred horse race held annually near the end of July at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. A Grade I event open to horses age three and older, it is a six furlong sprint raced on dirt....

    • Ballerina Handicap
      Ballerina Handicap
      The Ballerina Stakes is an American Grade I Thoroughbred horse race. The Grade I event is contested each year during the last week of August at Saratoga Race Course and is open to fillies and mares, ages three and up...

    • Coaching Club American Oaks
      Coaching Club American Oaks
      The Coaching Club American Oaks is a race for thoroughbred three-year old fillies and the second leg of the Triple Tiara of Thoroughbred Racing. Originally run at Belmont Park, the Grade I $250,000 stakes race was moved to Saratoga Race Course in 2010....

    • Diana Handicap
      Diana Handicap
      The Diana Stakes is an American Thoroughbred horse race. Named for the mythological goddess Diana, the race is run each year at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. Inaugurated in 1939, it is open to fillies and mares age three and up willing to race the one and one-eighth miles on...

    • Forego Handicap
      Forego Handicap
      The Forego Stakes is an American Thoroughbred horse race held annually at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. Open to horses three years old and up, it is run at a distance of seven furlongs on the dirt...

    • Go For Wand Handicap
      Go For Wand Handicap
      The Go For Wand Handicap is an American Thoroughbred horse race established in 1954 for fillies and mares age three and up. Raced at the end of July/early August, it is a Grade II race on dirt at a distance of one and one-eighth miles .Inaugurated in 1954 at Belmont Park as the Maskette Stakes in...

    • Hopeful Stakes
    • King's Bishop Stakes
      King's Bishop Stakes
      The King's Bishop Stakes is a Thoroughbred horse race run annually at the Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. The race is open to three-year-olds willing to sprint seven furlongs on dirt. The race is a Grade I event and carries a purse of $250,000...

    • Personal Ensign Stakes
    • Ruffian Handicap
      Ruffian Handicap
      The Ruffian Handicap is an American thoroughbred horse race for fillies and mares ages three-years-old and up run annually on the first Sunday in August at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York; until 2009 it had been run at the beginning of September at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York...

    • Spinaway Stakes
      Spinaway Stakes
      The Spinaway Stakes is an American Thoroughbred horse race run annually at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. Open to two-year-old fillies, it is a Grade I event contested at a distance of seven furlongs on dirt...

    • Sword Dancer Handicap
    • Test Stakes
      Test Stakes
      The Test Stakes is an American Thoroughbred horse race open to three-year-old fillies and run each summer at the Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. It is contested at a distance of seven furlongs on the dirt and is an influential race in shaping the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint...

    • Travers Stakes
      Travers Stakes
      The Travers Stakes is an American Grade I Thoroughbred horse race held at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York.First held in 1864, it was named for William R. Travers, the president of the old Saratoga Racing Association. His horse, Kentucky, won the first running of the Travers...

    • Whitney Handicap
      Whitney Handicap
      The Whitney Handicap is an American Grade 1 handicap race for Thoroughbred racehorses three years of age and older run at a distance of 1⅛ miles. In 2007, the Breeders' Cup Ltd...

    • Woodward Stakes
      Woodward Stakes
      The Woodward Stakes is an American Grade I stakes race and is one of the premier races for older thoroughbred horses in the United States. Named for prominent racehorse owner, George Nicholas Woodward, it is run at 1⅛ miles on the dirt for a purse of $750,000.The Woodward was run as a handicap in...


  • Grade II Stakes races:
    • Adirondack Stakes
      Adirondack Stakes
      The Adirondack Stakes is an American Thoroughbred horse race first run in 1901. Held in the middle of August at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York, the Adirondack Stakes is open to two-year-old fillies willing to race six and a half furlongs on the dirt...

    • Amsterdam Stakes
      Amsterdam Stakes
      The Amsterdam Stakes is an American Thoroughbred horse race run annually at the end of July at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. Open to three-year-old horses, it is a sprint race competed over a distance of 6½ furlongs...

    • Ballston Spa Handicap
    • Bernard Baruch Handicap
      Bernard Baruch Handicap
      The Bernard Baruch Handicap is an American Thoroughbred horse race held annually in early to mid August at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. The race is for three year olds and up willing to race one and one-eighth miles on the turf and carries a purse of $200,000...

    • Fourstardave Handicap
      Fourstardave Handicap
      The Fourstardave Handicap is an American Thoroughbred horse race run annually at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. The Grade II race is open to horses, age three and up, willing to race one and one-sixteenth miles on the turf...

    • Honorable Miss Handicap
      Honorable Miss Handicap
      The Honorable Miss Handicapis an American Thoroughbred horse race run annually at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. The Grade II event is open to fillies and mares, age three and up, willing to race six furlongs on the dirt....

    • Jim Dandy Stakes
      Jim Dandy Stakes
      The Jim Dandy Stakes is an American Thoroughbred horse race. The Grade II race has been held annually since 1964 at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. The race is open to horses age three, willing to race one and one-eighth miles on the dirt. It carries a purse of $500,000. Prior...

    • Lake George Stakes
      Lake George Stakes
      The Lake George Stakes is an American Thoroughbred horse race held annually at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. It is open to three-year-old fillies and run at a distance of one and one-sixteenth miles on the turf...

    • Lake Placid Handicap
      Lake Placid Handicap
      The Lake Placid Stakes is an American Thoroughbred horse race held annually at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. It is run at a distance of one and one-eighths miles on the turf and is open to three-year-old fillies and carries a purse of $150,000...

    • National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes
    • Sanford Stakes
      Sanford Stakes
      The Sanford Stakes is an American Thoroughbred horse race held annually during the third week of July at the Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. A six furlong sprint race, the Grade II event is open to two-year-old horses....

    • Saratoga Special Stakes
      Saratoga Special Stakes
      The Saratoga Special Stakes is an American grade II thoroughbred horse race run annually in mid-August at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. The race is for two-year-olds willing to race six and a half furlongs on the dirt....


  • Grade III Stakes races:
    • Glens Falls Handicap
      Glens Falls Handicap
      The Glens Falls Handicap is an American Thoroughbred horse race held annually at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. Open to fillies and mares age three and older, it is run at a distance of one and three-eighths miles on the turf. A Grade III event, it offers a purse of $100,000...

    • Saranac Stakes
    • Schuylerville Stakes
      Schuylerville Stakes
      The Schuylerville Stakes is an American Thoroughbred horse race held annually at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. Open to two-year-old fillies, it is contested at a distance of six furlongs on dirt. A Grade III event, it offers a purse of $100,000. In 2006, the race was...

    • Victory Ride Stakes
      Victory Ride Stakes
      The Victory Ride Stakes is an American Thoroughbred horse race for three-year old fillies run at a distance of six furlongs on the dirt at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York...

    • With Anticipation Stakes
      With Anticipation Stakes
      The With Anticipation Stakes is an American Thoroughbred horse race run annually near the end of August or early September at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. Raced on turf at a distance of one mile, it is open to two-year-old horses. Formerly a Grade III race, the American...


  • Ungraded stakes
    • De La Rose Stakes
      De La Rose Stakes
      The De La Rose Stakes is an American Thoroughbred horse race run annually in late July/early August since 2004 at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. An ungraded stakes race, it is open to fillies and mares, 4-years-old and up...

    • Saratoga Dew Stakes
    • Union Avenue Stakes
      Union Avenue Stakes
      The Union Avenue is an American ungraded Thoroughbred horse race race run annually at Saratoga Race Course. The race is restricted to fillies and mares 3-years-old and up who were bred in the State of New York...

    • Funny Cide Stakes
      Funny Cide Stakes
      The Funny Cide Stakes is an American Thoroughbred horse race for horses three-years-old and up bred in New York, approved by the New York State-Bred Registry, and run at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York...

    • Curlin Stakes

  • Steeplechase:
    • New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Grade I)
    • A. P. Smithwick Memorial Handicap (Grade II)

Burials


Buried at Clare Court Jogging Track are Fourstardave
Fourstardave
Fourstardave was an American Thoroughbred racehorse.Fans called him "The Sultan of Saratoga" because he'd won at least one race at Saratoga Race Course each year from 1987 to 1994. He died of a heart attack in October 2002 at the age of 17 on the Belmont Park track yet is buried in Claire Court at...

, Mourjane (IRE) and A Phenomenon. Champion filly Go For Wand
Go For Wand
Go For Wand was a champion American thoroughbred racehorse.Sired by Canadian Hall of Famer Deputy Minister, out of Obeah . Go For Wand was foaled and raised at Jane du Pont Lunger's Christiana Stables...

, who suffered a fatal injury during the stretch run of the 1990 Breeders Cup Distaff, is buried in the Saratoga Race Course infield.

TV personalities

  • Harvey Pack (1995–1999)
  • Paul Corman (1995–1999)
  • John Veitch
    John M. Veitch
    John M. Veitch is an American Hall of Fame Thoroughbred horse trainer. The son of U.S. Racing Hall of Fame trainer Sylvester Veitch, his family has been part of the horse-training business for three generations....

     (1995–1999)
  • John Imbriale (1995–2005)
  • Jan Rushton (1995–2009)
  • Jason Blewitt (2006–present)
  • Eric Donovan (2006–present)
  • Andy Serling (2008–present)
  • Rich McCarthy (1995–1999)
  • Mike Watchmaker (1995–1999)
  • Michael Sherack (1997–2000)
  • Kelly Gecewicz (2000–2005)
  • Mary Ryan (1995–1999)
  • Maggie Wolfendale (2011-present)

In fiction


The Race Course is the setting of a scene early on in the Ian Fleming
Ian Fleming
Ian Lancaster Fleming was a British author, journalist and Naval Intelligence Officer.Fleming is best known for creating the fictional British spy James Bond and for a series of twelve novels and nine short stories about the character, one of the biggest-selling series of fictional books of...

 James Bond
James Bond
James Bond, code name 007, is a fictional character created in 1953 by writer Ian Fleming, who featured him in twelve novels and two short story collections. There have been a six other authors who wrote authorised Bond novels or novelizations after Fleming's death in 1964: Kingsley Amis,...

 novel Diamonds Are Forever
Diamonds Are Forever (novel)
Diamonds Are Forever is the fourth of Ian Fleming's James Bond series of novels. It was first published by Jonathan Cape in the UK on 26 March 1956 and the first print run of 12,500 copies sold out quickly...

where the mob he is trying to infiltrate attempt to use a fixed race to pay him for a job.
It also is the setting of Sherwood Anderson's short story "I want to know why".

External links



Other reading

  • Heller, Bill
    Bill Heller
    Dr. Harold William "Bill" Heller is a Florida educator and Democratic politician who serves as the state representative for District 52 in Pinellas County Florida. He was first elected to the Legislature in 2006 and was re-elected in 2008. Before entering politics, he had a long history of...

    . Saratoga Tales: Great Horses, Fearless Jockeys, Shocking Upsets and Incredible Blunders at America's Legendary Race Track (2004) Whitston Publishing Company ISBN 978-0878755516