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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


By Peter Applebee

SARATOGA SPRINGS, July 11, 2021 — Have you ever seen the movie The Perfect Storm? If you haven’t, check your local cable listings and streaming networks.

Simply stated, via the magic of studio technology, the film features arguably the greatest scene of a ship caught in perilously high seas.

A personal highlight was a monologue delivered by George Clooney as the ship’s Captain, Billy Tyne, conveying what the experience is like.

There is no direct relationship to Saratoga here, but there can be if you put your imagination to work.

And so we have paraphrased Tyne’s thought process in relation to Thursday’s Spa opener. Now, to begin our return to history and tradition…

Cross over the Twin Bridges.

Slip off Northway Exit 13.

It’s getting hot now, the sun high in the sky.

Head to Wright Street for parking.

Scratches and changes are up: Fast and Firm.

Mark up the Form and take in the last bit of A/C.

Join the cooler and chair brigades – slouching towards equine Mecca.

Wave to the homeowners parking cars on their lawns.

Their smile widens a bit – ‘Great to see you!’ they offer

Stop and see who’s around at the Trackside Grill.

Hey, how’s your meet going so far?!

Roll through the turnstile and step inside.

A beehive of activity as far as the eye can see.

The light is somehow a bit different now.

Without prompting, a touch of moisture forms in the corner of the eye.

How long has it been? Seems like only yesterday.

You’ve got ideas in a couple of spots and you’re ready to fire.

You’re a horseplayer and it’s Opening Day at Saratoga!

Rhetorically, is there anything better?

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9 Responses

  1. Peter, it all sounds romantically familiar. As soon as I finish the Sunday missive, going to take down the PPs for opening day. Per usual, we’ll be back at Channel 13 and with Rodger Radio with some frequency. Have a great meet, you and everyone else!

    1. JP,

      Have a great meet! Thursday can’t come soon enough. The place is magical and I have missed it greatly. It’s nice to have the PPs so far in advance. That’s been an welcome improvement in recent years.


  2. Peter has described it perfectly for all of us Saratoga Horseplayers. There is no place like Saratoga. Made even better this year because we haven’t been there in two years. I for one cannot wait for Thursday.

  3. When I walk in with my daughter on Thursday …. Jack, Dave, and others who have departed will be with me (and with you too) … they are always alive at the track…it’s like Field of Dreams…they are still there, they will always be there… especially on Opening Day. Here’s to a great meet, and a free bench or two to rest weary legs of a $2 bettor weighed down by a massive bankroll as he sweeps race after race!!!!

  4. Field of Dreams it is! Especially if I can hit a big pick three at Saratoga…..and Del Mar!

  5. Dan, have just downloaded the PPs; Friday is up, too.

    If I know you Chuck, you’ll probable get out with a Pick 3 from Del Mar as I know you follow the West Coast, too.

    Stay liquid, you’ll be good. Meanwhile, kudos on Powerscourt and waiting for some updates on the trotting baby girl…

  6. At the 2020 Saratoga meet, the average $1.00 Exacta paid $37.39

    However, in the final 6 days of the meet, the average $1.00 Exacta paid $46.53

    Note that the 5 highest paying Exactas of the meet occurred on 3 racing days: JUL 25, AUG 14, SEP 04

    20200904 Race 4 $1.00 Exacta paid $559.00
    Step Dancer (Dylan Davis) 24 to 1
    Pivotal Run (Kendrick Carmouche) 54 to 1

    20200725 Race 9 $1.00 Exacta paid $405.00
    Turbo Drive (Irad Ortiz) 17 to 1
    Sanctuary City (Kendrick Carmouche) 16 to 1

    20200814 Race 10 $1.00 Exacta paid $387.50
    Mopolka (Eric Cancel) 9 to 1
    Rosey’s Invasion (Mike Luzzi) 42 to 1

    20200904 Race 9 $1.00 Exacta paid $332.50
    Big Package (Luis Cardenas) 23 to 1
    More Like It (Dylan Davis) 21 to 1

    20200814 Race 9 $1.00 Exacta paid $327.00
    Say The Word (Junior Alvarado) 52 to 1
    Argonne (Luis Saez) 7 to 1

    Lowest paying Exacta of the meet:

    20200808 Race 10 $1.00 Exacta paid $1.80
    Gamine (John Velasquez) 3 to 10
    Venetian Harbor (Joel Rosario) 3 to 1

    As always, please point out any errors.

  7. Love this by-the-numbers stuff, always interesting. Keep’em coming when motivated Dan…

  8. On my other favorite horse racing site they First headlined ” 7 Angles that no longer work at Saratoga”, you know,horse x course,jockey switch,etc.. and now 10 reasons for Delmar which is a track that I thought would have been condos by the sand by now since it’s location is prime real estate value maybe more so than some of the Hamptons ‘ overpriced brick and sand castles. With so many competing interests,trainers,owners and varied outfits running for the $$,exposure and photo ops,for just a few weeks, I never thought that Saratoga was like Belmont,that is,with so many horses coming off layoffs,different parts of the country with so many new,and temporary outfits, the board money,more than ever before takes a precedent over PP s,workouts and who riding whose horses,after all, it’s not a place for tertiary owners,trainers nor jockeys. If you are here with an entry at post time it means that it was worthy of its expense to be here at Saratoga and ride to win here.Same with jockeys: not many are waiting for pity,or leftover rides that’s why lots of them switch circuit.They don’t belong here.Ps: Randy Persaud,as bad a trainer as he was a jockey,had not been in the $ in his last 30 some races at Saratoga. Why bother showing up ? Could mention a couple of other names but why waste undeserving time and space ? W. Ward,that former great bug,will be my trainer to follow this season.Asmussen,20 wins from a record while Baffert bites his nails..

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