For the third consecutive year, I was lucky enough to be at the Saratoga Race Course for the Alabama Stakes. This was my longest visit ever - getting to the track for the 3rd race on Thursday and seeing every race through the 8th on Sunday. I thought it would be too much, but I was actually craving more while back at work on Monday.
Those that know me also know that I am not much of a gambler. The dime super is my thing (hit 2 on Friday). I have generally been a fan of the stakes races and the connections that compete in them. However, this weekend turned everything upside down. The stakes races were not great but the gambling in many of the other races was. Sure, the Alabama was significant, but as a fan of Devil May Care (Malibu Moon), I was let down.
But, when you get race after race of big fields and nice odds, the gambling becomes a lot more interesting. For a rare moment, I was more into the wagering than the sport. I "got crazy" and started in with the rolling Pick 3's and barely even went out to the paddock.
So, I have seen this message to the industry around the internet but I will deliver my own version of it now - MARKET THE GAMBLING. Horse racing is dramatically more exciting, glamorous and sophisticated than slots. Let people know this. You can bet many different ways. Don't like the win bet, try a trifecta. Want to solve a big puzzle, try the Pick 6. And the ladies can wear big, fancy hats if they would like to. Win - win.
The people and the stories are still my favorite part, so it was great to be there when Nick Zito won his first race of the meet with Mountain Town. Marylou Whitney (in the red below) owned the winner until he was claimed by Rick Dutrow for Paul Pompa for $75,000.
On Thursday, I also discovered a great Saratoga secret. When Hattie's Chicken closes after the races, they bring whatever is left over to the paddock bar. If you are nice to the bartenders, they will share some of the goods with you.
And they're off in the Alabama. Can you believe that Blind Luck was purchased at auction for $11,000? Wow.
How did NYRA manage to line up the umbrella giveaway with a rainy day? Not just rain, but major rain? You would think they would use these super powers for greater problems. Anyway, I really like my umbrella. And I took only one, unlike the spinners with their 10 each. It was fun watching them drop their armfuls into puddles. Gluttons. The umbrellas are selling for between $5 and $10 on Ebay tonight.
Good luck with Wednesday's carryover!