Friday, August 27, 2010

The Geyser is back and spouting away! Thanks to Mark and Jeff and the wonderful staff of Saratoga Spa State Park.

The spouting geyser is truly the heart of Saratoga Spa State Park. A $250,000 project is underway to rehabilitate the geyser area which was sorely needed. This is being financed primarily with private donations.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

TALK 1300 AM at the Victoria Pool

Talk Radio Station, TALK 1300 AM is broadcasting from the historic Victoria Pool today, Aug 24th, from 7 to 10 am.  The transmitting station was set up right on the porch of the Golf House at the Victoria Pool.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

help to replace some of our beloved lost stately pine trees.

Our region of NYS Parks is benefitting from a corporate contribution of about $5,000 worth of trees from the Odwalla beverage company. Potential projects include the purchase of replacement pine trees for the Avenue of the Pines at Saratoga, and the replanting of historic orchards at Johnson Hall.

You and your Friends can help boost this gift by going to and following the Plant-a-Tree links. You will be asked for a code: NY6000. So please help spread the word!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

"-heck, any day at Saratoga-is a good day." Palm Beach Post, 8/4/10

Miles from Miami, Saratoga racing puts everyone - even Bill Parcells - at ease
Photo by Hal Habib
Enlarge Photo Here at Saratoga, Bill Parcells blends in -- can you find him in the crowd? (Hint: He's wearing a tan sport jacket, sitting behind the middle pillar.)

Photo by Hal Habib
Enlarge Photo Bill Parcells checks the monitor during a race in the box seats at Saratoga.

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Florida Marlins sign free agent third baseman Chad Tracy 8:18 p.m.
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Miami Dolphins will hold a full scrimmage Saturday and a limited scrimmage Monday Updated 8:11 p.m.
Miami Dolphins' Patrick Cobbs knows how the injured Kory Sheets feels Updated 8:05 p.m.
Seantrel Henderson, the nation's top prospect who left USC for Miami, makes huge entrance Updated 8:03 p.m.
Suspended Marshall players from Palm Beach County will not be reinstated
More local sports headlines By Hal Habib
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Updated: 10:47 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2010

Posted: 5:11 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2010

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — The opening of Dolphins training camp was only a few days away. Word had just come that a starting defensive lineman was out for the year because of injury. Yet Bill Parcells had not a care in the world, it seemed.

Parcells had settled into the box seats at Saratoga Race Course. Even though he couldn't sit in his box - the rain had flooded it - it was opening day.

And opening day at Saratoga - heck, any day at Saratoga - is a good day.

"What really makes it special is every time I've ever been here, I've been happy," said Parcells, the Dolphins' executive vice president of football operations. "This is a happy place for Bill Parcells."

It must be. The last time Parcells spoke to the South Florida media was about the time this track was being constructed - following the Battle of Gettysburg.

But take Parcells out of aqua and orange and slip him into a summer-bright white shirt and yellow jacket, take away his football roster and hand him the Daily Racing Form, and, instead of the Colts, let him scout out colts. Then watch what happens.

"It's a great place to be in the summer," said Parcells, who has a home here. "The weather's good. The golf is good. The races are good. The town is excited. There are a lot of good places to eat. It's very relaxing and it's just a nice, upstate place to be."

Parcells first made the trip around the mid-'80s. He returned the following year, and before he knew it, "it gets to be a habit," meaning aside from having built Super Bowl champions, Parcells is just like the other 25,000 who show up daily in this cathedral of racing.

Maybe it's the mountains. Or walking amid the tall elms on the winding paths leading to a wooden grandstand - with an emphasis on "grand." The gentlemen in coats, ladies in exquisite hats and the pretzel-clutching children in heaven. It's fans showing up for the trackside buffet breakfast at 7 a.m. even though post times don't start until at least 1 p.m.

This is the nation's oldest racetrack, having begun operations across the street in 1863. You name them, they ran here. Secretariat. Affirmed vs. Alydar. Seabiscuit liked it so much, he ran both on track and onscreen (they filmed the movie here). Notorious gamblers ran here, too, using the joint to elude New York City authorities in the olden days.

"From New York City you drive north for about 175 miles, turn left on Union Avenue and go back 100 years," columnist Red Smith wrote. Today, it's closer to 150 years.

"Horse heaven," track announcer Tom Durkin said. "A bit of a social whirl in an authentic, Victorian place."

Trainer Nick Zito, inducted into racing's Hall of Fame across the street, added, "It's spiritual. Look at it. You don't get this anywhere else."

Blink and it's over. Such is the nature of this meet because it lasts roughly six weeks (July 23 through Sept. 6) and because only the swiftest survive.

"Even if you win a small (race) here, I think more people notice," trainer Ken McPeek said. "You could win 10 someplace else and nobody cares. But winning here, it's tough. It's the best horsemen, the best riders, the best of everything."

Jack Knowlton arrived in 1969, Bill Heller three years later and Dave Smith 10 years after Heller. At the time, Knowlton and Heller were college students and Smith was an elementary school teacher seeking a summer job.

They haven't left yet. Probably never will.

"It's my summer home," said Smith, an usher. "The box-holders here are my second family."

Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson, Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino, Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, they're all here.

Smith also carries the trophy to the winner's circle for the daily feature race.

"Sometimes I've said I would do this for nothing," he said.

Parcells sits in Smith's section.

"Oh, he's a great guy," Smith said, bemoaning that Parcells is only able to come for the start of the meet since he joined the Dolphins.

Heller was an Albany State student when he arrived.

"On my first visit to a thoroughbred track, I got to see Secretariat win the Hopeful Stakes," said Heller, who covers Saratoga for Thoroughbred Style Magazine and has written several books, including Saratoga Tales and a recent biography of jockey Randy Romero.

"The Hopeful was amazing because he was last heading into the far turn, and he just swooped by the whole field like that (snapping his fingers). I said, 'Oh my God.' How could you not become a fan of thoroughbred racing after that?"

Knowlton was a grad student who incorporated trips to Saratoga into his curriculum. Somewhat.

"I got a lot of math in here," he said.

Addition or subtraction?

"Probably subtraction from my pocket, but I learned, and here we are, 40 years later."

Knowlton once found himself in the winner's circle at Churchill Downs when he was the managing partner of Sackatoga Stable, which owns Funny Cide, the 2003 Kentucky Derby winner.

"It all started here," said Knowlton, who credits Funny Cide for allowing him to obtain a box at the track. He said it also allows him to attend the No. 1 event of each summer in Saratoga Springs, the gala thrown by Marylou Whitney, the socialite who maintains a seasonal home in Palm Beach.

Whitney arrived in the late '50s with her previous husband, the late Cornelius Vanderbilt "Sonny" Whitney.

"We didn't intend to stay at all," she said. "It was so much fun. I said, 'This is wonderful. Let's move here!'" Whitney became known as the queen of Saratoga.

She and her husband, John Hendrickson, sponsor and attend an event for stable workers every evening from July 23 to Sept. 5, such as a bingo game awarding $250 gift certificates. That's in addition to parties.

"Sometimes, she has five events a night," Hendrickson said. "Last year, we were having dinner with (New York Gov. David) Paterson and Marylou said, in the middle of dinner, 'Would you excuse me for 25 minutes?'"

On a recent sunny afternoon a few days into the meet, fans wheeled in coolers and staked out picnic tables amid the trees and toteboards. Michael Geraghty was in the coveted spot he has had for 21 years, selling racing paintings.

"Having one of these spots is akin to an apartment on Fifth Avenue in New York City," he said. "You don't have this atmosphere at any other track in the country. It's almost more like a resort than a day at the track."

Saratoga is not immune to today's economy. The strapped New York Racing Association received a $25 million loan from the state in May to open the track.

"I never thought they would close," Zito said. "It's 25 minutes from Albany. That's where these guys (lawmakers) live. ... If they ever want to get elected, there's no way."

The population triples to 75,000 during the meet. Downtown, it's equines everywhere, from the "Remarkable Finish" beauty salon to colorful statutes.

"It's just a wonderful place," Parcells said. "It's hard for me to explain what it does for me. It's relaxing, but it's exciting."

Is it easier to pick a good horse or football player?

"For me, it's easier to pick a football player, because I know what I'm looking at," said Parcells, who has owned racehorses. "I don't know what I'm looking at here all the time."

But he was doing OK on opening day.

"I was lucky in the first race," he said.

In South Florida awaited the headaches of running a pro football team, including the injury to defensive end Phillip Merling, who is out for the year.

But on this day, Bill Parcells was 1,442 miles away.

That's 150 horse years.

Faux diamonds and Marylou, it must be Saratoga in August.

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Details released for Friday’s Whitney Gala
August 3, 2010 at 1:55 pm by Christen Gowan

Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's"

Saratoga Seen just got some latest details on the upcoming “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” themed-Whitney Gala, which is Friday night.

The annual rite of summer will feature Marylou, her husband John Hendrickson, and (possibly) invited guests Sarah and Todd Palin.

Here are some of the details of Saratoga’s social event of the season (if this city has one):

Be in place by 7 p.m. in front of Canfield Casino if you want to see Marylou’s entrance.
Marylou and John will arrive in a 1960’s-era New York City taxicab, just like the one featured in the classic Audrey Hepburn movie.
As always, there will be an outdoor stage for onlookers to enjoy entertainment before Marylou’s arrival. Singers and dancers will perform songs from movies from the Hepburn era, like “Moon River” and “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.”
Onlookers will be given Tiffany-blue bubble blowers and enormous faux diamonds as the giveaway.