As the heat wave continues to blanket the country sending record temperatures soaring, the racing world begins to heat up with the opening of one of the most historic and legendary race tracks in all of North America. Saratoga Race Track, located in Saratoga Springs, NY, is the oldest organized sporting venue in the United States and its doors officially open for business this afternoon.
Traditionally Saratoga opens in late July and runs through early September. The meet is home to several prestigious Grade 1 races with the centerpiece being the mid-summer derby, The Travers Stakes. This season, Saratoga will run 52 stakes races with 17 Grade 1 races at the forefront. The Travers will be held on Aug. 27.
Saratoga continues to define horse racing in the United States. A great amount of attention is paid to the sport during the winter and spring months leading up to the derby, but once Saratoga opens, the focus begins to sharpen once again. The 3-yr. old crop resurfaces and takes aim at accolades and a possible start in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Older horses continue their pursuit of championship blankets and the ‘Win and You’re in System’ is very much in play. Saratoga is a spring board to bigger and better things. It also offers the chance for redemption. Uncle Mo is currently back in training at Saratoga as are many other 3-yr. old Triple Crown competitors.
Known as The Spa due to nearby mineral springs, Saratoga is also known as the Graveyard of Champions. Man O’War suffered his only defeat in 21 races at Saratoga. Secretariat was also defeated after winning the Triple Crown. The racing at Saratoga is absolutely stellar and on any given day, each horse that enters the gate has a chance to win. The fields are usually full and very competitive. Opening weekend will be no different. Today, the highlight of the card will be the $75,000 James Marvin Stakes, tomorrow will be the G.1 $250,000 TVG Coaching Club American Oaks, and Sunday will be the G.2 $150,000 Sanford Stakes.
Saratoga is special. It is a tribute to the past and it will continue to flourish in the future. As for now, we have an opportunity as race fans to witness great things this summer. I’ve always felt that the opening of Ellis Park was the precursor to the summer, but summer didn’t actually begin until Saratoga opened. Summer begins today. Get your programs and your pens and let the handicapping begin once again as we shoot for the Travers and the plethora of racing being held at Saratoga.
Written by Big Brink