Jay DiLorenzo, president of the Preservation League of New York State, announced yesterday that the Saratoga Race Course was added to the 2008 list of Seven to Save Endangered Properties.

Seems like a quaint notion but this development actually could have some impact on current franchise negotiations between the New York Racing Association and the states lawmakers.

Before making his announcement, DiLorenzo spoke of the luxury suites that recently were built at the new and improved Churchill Downs, and how the suites obscured the views of the famed, trademark twin spires.

The first time I saw it, I gasped, DiLorenzo told the Albany Times Union. That cannot happen here.

The first time I saw the twin spires was 24 years ago, Sunnys Halos year. There were terrorists in 1983, too, and they took the lives of some of our best Marines in Beirut.

And the people back in the day still cared about the space program, and a filly with the appropriate name Sally Ride became our first female astronaut.

I was at Newsday then, their handicapper and handicapping columnist. I didnt yet have an opportunity to cover the big events. But Steven Jerkens, Allen Jr. and Jimmys brother, and the Chiefs son, had Pax In Bello in the Kentucky Derby, Jeffrey Fell in the boot.

Sunnys Halo, bidding to become historys second winner of the Arkansas Derby to repeat two weeks later in Louisville, was the tepid favorite. Actually picked him to win, too, ($7.00 wasnt much value). But Stevens colt had a punchers chance despite his long odds.

My friend Jack Shelley and I de-planed in Louisville to root for Stevens horse. Two days later, early morning on the first Saturday in May, our rental car passed the building line on South 4th Street and as it reached the corner of Central Ave., I looked right, and there they were, reaching high into the Louisville sky.

I felt my stomach jump, my eyes well up and--not trying to be melodramatic here--I felt something like what my grandparents must have when first they layed eyes on the Statue of Liberty. Of course its not the same thing! All Im saying is that it might be close. Loves funny that way.

The Downs are the twin spires. But Saratoga has spires, too, and DiLorenzo expressed the fears every Saratoga fan has no matter where he was born, reared, or presently lives.

Saratoga is Nirvana for horseplayers, now and then. Saratoga is where a Revolutionary battle was fought, where racing has been conducted for the past 144 years. It needs to be protected and preserved.

It is hoped that some of this history will be on the minds of lawmakers before they figure out just how to slice this New York racing pie and who gets the biggest piece. Thats the reality now.

In 1983, Pax In Bello beat more than half the field, finishing seventh. It was a very good effort and the connections where proud of their horse. And there really is nothing to compare with that first Derby experience.

Coincidentally, or not, I havent been back to Churchill since the recent reconstruction. Maybe Im just afraid to go back.

For now, old memories will have to enough. But thats because Im spoiled, living in the Union Avenue Historic District. And not long ago, the Saratoga City Council had the good sense to officially preserve the race course under that same umbrella.