Pricci's Saratoga Diary
For the next 40 days of New York racing, Executive Editor John Pricci will provide his insights on all things Saratoga for the 35th consecutive year in his original "Saratoga Diary." It debuted in 1977, the year Seattle Slew won the Triple Crown and Jatski was placed first in the Travers Stakes following the disqualification of Run Dusty Run. So keep up with the cold exactas, hot issues, and build your own stable of live horses, all from John's unique perspective, exclusively at

Friday, August 29, 2014

Welcome Back Champ; Welcome Back, Visitors

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, August 29, 2014—In the past, we have been critical of the connections of two-time defending Horse of the Year champion Wise Dan for taking a road less sporting.

But as to the remainder of Wise Dan’s 2014 racing schedule, which commences in Saturday’s Grade 2 Bernard Baruch with the storied gelding seeking a three-peat, trainer Charlie LoPresti is properly impatient when it comes to questions regarding a title defense.

"I don't know how many people have said, ‘You need to do this,’ or ‘You need to do that’ to get Horse of the Year’” LoPresti said to a NYRA press staffer on Thursday. “I'm not even thinking about that right now.”

Nor should he have to.

After seven workouts following his return to training after having colic surgery—to repeat, colic surgery—the 7-year-old Morton Fink homebred, a winner of six Eclipse Award titles in his career, will be spotting eight to 13 pounds to seven turf rivals in the 1-1/16th miles Grade 2 beneath 127 pounds.

“I'm thinking how lucky we are to get him back to the races, have him out [there] breezing, getting the chance to get him back in a race... I'm just glad he's back in training and has a chance to run. Horse of the Year is the furthest thing from my mind right now.”

Amen. First things first; let’s see how it all goes at 3:15 p.m. tomorrow

Happy Holidays

Could it be that finally a longer Saratoga meet will come to fruition, possibly as soon as next year?

That eventuality might have been trial-ballooned yesterday and it has not, according to reports, officially been seriously discussed by NYRA’s Board of Directors.

The Fourth of July to Labor Day schedule was something the Diary suggested about two decade ago in Newsday, claiming that a bad attendance day in Saratoga is better than an average day on Long Island—these days, much better.

As usual, the knee-jerk has been predictable. Too much of a good thing? Well, Saratoga hasn’t been the “August Place to Be” in some time, giving way to the “Summer Place to Be” since the schedule crept into the last week of July.

The leak, published in the Troy Record, quoted a hotel general manager as saying that the Saratoga market has reached a saturation point in terms of the number of hotels needed.

Maybe so, but they keep building them, and the high-priced condos put up in downtown Bonacio Ville have not been sold given the crazy asking prices, but that hasn’t stopped realtors from writing short-term leases rather than have the spaces remain empty.

It is true, modern day Saratoga is not the one-horse town it once was, but it still generates far and away the greatest amount of revenue and puts Saratoga on the world class map.

Concerts and ballets are great, but they don’t do that. And neither do they command world class prices for a relatively short period of time. Many of the locals have retired on what their properties have sold for, particularly in the last decade.

Yes, Saratoga is now one of the world’s biggest small towns and expansion is inevitable. The only question that remains is when.

Written by John Pricci

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