Such a joy being able to visit Saratoga Springs again – if even just for a day! It’s been three Summers since I last visited and I distinctly recall it being a trip that changed my life.
Saratoga Racecourse is the hub of the City, a magical place where the best in the industry congregate for a Summer meet that delights as much as it excites. The energy is electric, the passion from fans is palpable every corner you look. I realized what I’ve been missing my entire life after visiting this – a City where everyone is just as obsessed with Horse Racing as I am. Saratoga possesses old school charm yet is modern in its amenities and sensibilities. It’s easy to see how in a weekend over 100k+ people can flock to the races.
These past couple years have been rough and by no means is this isolated to myself. We’ve all had a tough go. Till now, travelling has been out of the question for me. I’m a certified Germaphobe and terrified of getting sick. Dealing with both my parents getting Covid earlier this Summer, my Dad hospitalized even, we could definitely have used a pick-me-up and Saratoga was the answer. The same way it cured my blues after losing my beloved dog Billy a bit before my last visit in 2019. I remember seeing his Doppelganger at a Gift Shop on Broadway, who was demanding my attention. Milo was his name and after his Owner let me pick him up, that’s when it all began to make sense. I was meant to be here and maybe I should have opened my heart to starting anew with another dog (who eventually would be beanie). And maybe it was okay not to be sad anymore. If I could give my parents even just a glimmer of the light this place gave me, traveling the seven hours from Toronto each way was worth it.
This little guy Milo kept following me around #Saratoga. Had to give him a big hug. Does he remind you of anyone? pic.twitter.com/t62EkQIytu— MR. WILL WONG 📸 (@mrwillw) August 2, 2019
Sending-off emails to my friends out that way, I’d start planning my visit. And the more I planned, the more restless I got. Of course, in a good way. This was my first proper trip in a long time.
My biggest challenge was accommodations. I’m told the Housing Market in Saratoga is “insane”. Literally anything close to the Racecourse was booked fully – hotels, motels and Airbnbs. Anything with avails was way out of my budget. I had to begin expanding my search a little outside the City and was able to find a couple beautiful properties for our stay about 30 minutes away. At first, that extra commute felt like an inconvenience but after realizing how peaceful these backroads are just outside Saratoga, it actually came to reveal itself as an actual blessing. I would have no issue driving that far every day if it were that relaxing and scenic!
Back home in Toronto, we’re used to seeing traffic and volume at the races mostly on big race days, like the Queen’s Plate. But at Saratoga every day of its 40 day meet is like the Queen’s Plate. Literally people filling the grandstands and picnic tables during standard work hours and I’m here for that life! T-Shirt Giveaways drive people out in masses and I admit, I wanted one too! After a bit of pleading with the lot attendant, who witnessed our struggle finding a spot, finally we were able to park the amazing 2022 Passport Touring we were travelling in, courtesy of Honda Canada. Walking through the Marylou Whitney Entrance, those feelings all came back again. It was three years since I last visited only, but there already was a comforting sense of nostalgia seeing those red and white stripes, a motif throughout the venue.
It was only a regular Friday, no big marquee races, but my one day back at Saratoga was exactly what I needed to feel realigned.
Some Snaps from my star-studded visit.
Steve Asmussen continues to thrive with an incredible roster of talent who are heading into their Fall campaigns in top form. While he only has a limited number of runners in his Saratoga charges, he is hitting an incredible average 54% in the Top Three with his starters.
Todd Pletcher continues to be a major force at Saratoga, currently second in Trainer standings, and a stable filled to the brim with starpower.
Chad Brown once again leads Trainer standings at the Saratoga meet, ready to surpass $4 million in earnings this Summer. Another incredible meet for him and his Team.
Canada’s reigning Top Trainer is working with a leaner roster of emerging talent at Saratoga, but is experiencing success, ranking #15 currently in standings. After having seen the retirement of some of his recent top stars, the focus is on up-and-coming names, some familiar to Woodbine bettors.
Thank you, to the NYRA for an unforgettable visit. Will definitely will be back!
While in Saratoga, you cannot miss a visit to Morrissey’s Lounge & Bistro at gorgeous The Adelphi Hotel. We were so pleased about their dogs-allowed-on-patio policy. Impeccable service, phenomenal flavours and a relaxing ambiece. We love people-watching and this is the spot for it!
Glancing over across the road from the patio, we see the exact Gift Shop we saw Billy‘s Doppelganger, Milo. He led us here today. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
See our Highlight Reels:
More here on The Adelphi Hotel and Morrissey’s.
Plan your visit to Saratoga Racecourse. More here.
(Photo/video credit: Mr. Will Wong)
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