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Flashback to 1987 at Saratoga
Before this year's Saratoga meet began, I scanned in a few negatives from - gulp - a quarter-century ago at the Spa. I thought some of you might remember these horses, people and times with the same fondness I do.
I ran out of time to post these back in July but, since they're from 25 years ago, this seems as good a time as any! Do any of you remember the lesser-known stars, especially? I also have a couple of "who are these" photos that, if anyone knows them, I'd love to know, too... (After all, some day, some poor sucker will be stuck looking through my old negatives - but wouldn't it be nice if they were IDed?).
Above: Saratoga doesn't look all that much different today than it did in 1987, although I know a few of the infield elms are now just memories.
Above: Among the 3-year-old stars who shone at Saratoga 25 years ago was Java Gold. He shone the most brightly, winning the Whitney and a very muddy Travers.
Above: There has never been a more popular outrider than Howard Reilly, shown here with his long-time pony Buck. He and Buck were teamed up for more than 20 years - maybe even 25? When Howard was riding Buck, Buck had all the nerve in the world. When Howard wasn't around, Buck was a bit shy (funny, isn't it, the things a person remembers?).
Above: I should remember these gents, especially the one at left whom I think was a regular. Jump jocks, perhaps?
Above: A pretty darned good racehorse and stellar sire, Gone West.
Above: Gone West's trainer Woody Stephens, on chestnut pony, visits with fellow trainers...is the man on the grey pony Warren Pascuma? The other is John Veitch (bottom left).
Above: The brilliant sprinter Once Wild with the brilliant rider Angel Cordero, Jr.
Above: Jeff Lukas was part of the daily morning scene at Saratoga in the late 1980s.
Above: Among the horses in Jeff's care in 1987 was a strapping 2-year-old filly named Winning Colors...
...as well as the 1986 champion 2-year-old colt Capote....
...and the oversized multiple stakes-winning mare Pine Tree Lane (above and below).
Above: Another top 3-year-old at the Spa in 1987 was Belmont Stakes' winner Bet Twice, who shipped in for the Travers. Here he is, being bathed in the area that nowadays is the Kimmel barn.
Above: Backstretch scene.
Above: I have no idea who this is, but I'll bet it was a stakes horse (simply because I photographed it, and the W is unfamiliar to me). Any ideas?
Above: E. T. Baird and a mischievous smile.
Above: Woody Stephens, one of the most popular trainers ever, visited regularly with the Saratoga breakfast crowd - yes, Mary Ryan was the morning announcer way back then, too! This pony is the one featured in the poster about Woody's five Belmont wins. I don't remember the pony's name, but he was beautiful.
Above: Champion sprinter Groovy was trained by Jose Martin. His son, Carlos Martin - now a successful trainer - leads Groovy in this photo. I feel as though it's even in the same barn Carlos uses now - but I'm not quite sure.
Above: Morning scene at the pony barn.
Above: How's this for an obscure one. Does anyone remember Dawn Revival? He ran 49 times over 6 seasons, with just 2 wins....but he sure looked grand in photos!
Above: Although I was a fan of each horse in the blog - and, of course, countless others - this one reigned supreme for me a quarter-century ago. It was dual classic winner Alysheba. How grand was he? He was 1987's champion 3-year-old colt. The next year, he earned both the champion older horse and Horse of the Year titles.
Barbara, 30 plus years following every aspect of horse racing and I feel like a baby next to your fellow horse lovers magnificent memories. Your photography is awesome and touches our hearts tremendously. I remember early on as a Limo driver bringing caterers to the Robert Brennan estate outside of Saratoga and spending the night in town. A bunch of us were having cigarettes outside in the driveway at Brennan's estate and Woody Stephens joined us and said not to let Lucille know he'd been outside with us sneaking a smoke. Got to shake his hand thought to myself I should never wash the hand that touched his 5 consecutive Belmonts. There's a record that will never be touched, Thanks so much for the wonder of it all.....
Hi Barbara, I think the saddle cloth with the W on it is for trainer Robert E. Wheeler of Maryland. Mr. Wheeler had a real nice 2 year old filly at Saratoga that summer named Bold Lady Anne. I think she ran 4th in the Adirondack and 2nd in the Spinaway. She was a nice filly winning 7 of 14. She was owned by Edward Connor. I think Boldy Lady Anne had a sales topper at Keeneland one September. I don't know if that is Bold Lady Anne in the photo. But I would bet the saddle cloth belongs to Mr. Wheeler.
Wish you had been able to depict TALAKENO, trained by Dickie Dutrow, which won the '87 Bernard Baruch under Angel Cordero. The Saratogian pink sheet headline was "TALAKENO: The MANILA Killer," and went on to describe the result as one of the greatest upsets in Saratoga history, behind only UPSET defeating MAN O' WAR and ONION defeating SECRETARIAT. The loss, ending MANILA's 9 race winning streak, prompted his sore loser trainer Leroy Jolley to say "...It had to be the heat...these horses don't belong in the same race with him," reminding fans of the tactless conditioner's words when RUFFIAN broke down in her match race with FOOLISH PLEASURE: "This game isn't for people in short pants..."
Awesome collection of Saratoga photos! I really enjoyed perusing them.
Jump Jocks Gregg Ryan, Jimmy Day, Benny Guessford, Gregg Morris
Thanks for the wonderful photo's, it brought back a lot of memories! Treasured the Alysheba - Bet Twice rivalry in the '87 Triple Crown events. Still amazed how Alysheba took a bad step and almost went down mid stretch in the '87 Kentucky Derby - yet regained his composure and momentum and still won the race under Chris McCarron ! CLASSIC!!!!
What a great champion Alysheba was. In 1988 as a 4 year old, he raced all over the country and broke 3 or 4 track records. His BC Classic loss in 1987 as a 3 year old , by a head to 4 year old Ferdinand was redeemed by his stubborn stretch run in 1988 in near darkness, beating Seeking the gold. My all time favorite horse!
Ah! Groovy! Many years ago my family and I visited him at WinStar. We were told his favorite treats were doughnuts with maple syrup flavored icing. He was quite a character! We were thrilled to have met him.
Well Barbara, now you've gone and done it. This photo spread got me into the trunk for my old Saratoga programs. What a trip down memory lane. The Whitney that year was quite a group of 3 year olds (Gulch, Gone West, Lac Ouimet, and of course Java Gold) against the favorite Broad Brush. As I recall Gulch looked like he had it won until the Rokeby horse ran him down late. I have an old habit of noting the attendance in my programs and they had over 50,000 at the Spa that day. So wonderful to she the shots of Woody Stephens. What I wouldn't give to be able to go back and hear him talking to a crowd of breakfasters gathered at the rail. He was always so generous of his time at Belmont or Saratoga. As an aside, and relating to the shot of Woody and Warren Pascuma, my program tells me that on opening day 1987 Mr. Pascuma trained the winner of the 6th race, a MSP for babies in which a grey cold by Icecapade named Red Scamper won paying $19.80 (I didn't have him). One of my fondest memories of the 1987 meet is Mel Stute sneaking in and winning the Test with Very Subtle. She was one of the fastest of the fast I've ever seen. Also, Java Gold was far from the only star Mack Miller sent out that year. He had Crusader Sword in the 2 year old division, and I saw him win the Saratoga Special against the likes of Forty Niner, Tejano and the above pictured Once Wild on opening Friday. Lastly, I'll take a wild shot at who the on the bit mystery horse is. Since most of the photos are off horses active early in the meet my guess is a horse named Why Not Try. He ran in the A Phenomenon on Whitney day. Trained by Dick Dutrow, ridden my Angel Cordero. The owner was Henry T. Waring, whose colors were "dubonnet, gray panel." Confidence is not high, but maybe it will jog your memory banks. So many thanks for the trip down memory lane.
is that tommy skiffington reading a paper on the bench
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