10/01/2012 7:37PM

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.