Down the Stretch

Over the years, I have taken many photos at the Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, NY. It is one of the most beautiful and family friendly race tracks in the US. Opened officially in 1863, it is the oldest race courses in the country that runs a full season with the top horse flesh and jocks.

The Travers (named after one of the founders of the course – another founder was Cornelius Vanderbuilt) is considered the “4th leg” of the Triple Crown and is also sometimes called the Midsummer Derby. It is televised on national TV. And many of the famous horses have failed at Saratoga – the first was triple crown winner Gallant Fox bested by a horse called Jim Dandy. Thus, Saratoga’s nickname of “the graveyard of champions” was born. BTW, the “Jim Dandy” is another of the race courses big races. At least seven major motion pictures had scenes at the course, including the bond flick, Diamonds are Forever.

For locals, the advertising slogan – the August place to be – means summer fun, not to mention those wonderful give-a-ways. Now that the racing season was extended to July, we have “the summer place to be” (ugh! as a slogan). The best place for the average photographer who does not have press credentials is at the top of the stretch. The photo to the left was taken from this position. It is easy to reach if you shove past the diners at the restaurant there. It has a great vantage point of the horses full throttle at the turn. The next best place is just before the finish line – see the photo above. But get there early because the crowds will get you (Saratoga can get 50,000 people on the best dates). Both images here were converted into a digital painting using my magic fingers.

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