10/08/2012 8:13PM

Saratoga 2012 - one more look back

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The autumn leaves are falling here in Saratoga, most of the marquee horses have shipped out, and racetracks across the country have settled into their fall meets.  Although the Saratoga season ended just over a month ago, it seems worlds away already.

It's high time to remove this year's Spa photos from my computer and store them away on hard drives.  Toward that end, here's a final group from this season that I hope are as fun for you to view as they were for me to assemble.

Happy autumn!  

Above:  Alaura Michele, Bill Mott's handsome stakes winning filly, can't wait for the action to begin.  

Above:  This matched team seems content to quietly watch the action.

Above and below:  Poseidon's Warrior made the Spa season a memorable one for Butch Reid and his wife Ginny (below), winning the G1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt.

Above:  This long-faced, beautiful colt sports an odd name - yet Violence reigned supreme in a maiden race on August 18.

Above:  Hellllllllllooooo, says multiple Grade I winner Point of Entry, eyeing the photographer.

Above:  Can you guess whose eye this is?

Above:  It's Hall of Famer Johnny Velazquez, who here gets a hug from his long-time friend, mentor and agent Angel Cordero, Jr., on Hall of Fame day.

Above:  Fire On Ice, at left (as it if matters which horse is which, in a silhouette), was back in training at the Spa, a year after a very impressive maiden win here.

Above/below:  Oh, hai!  (any other Icanhascheezburger.com fans on here?)  Seth Benzel's young kitten, Lucky, might be a terror at times....but she loves her friend Glory in Motion.

Above:  Breeders' Cup winner steam wafts from Stephanie's Kitten.  And because the Spa seems to inspire lots of steamy photos....

Above:  ...here's Archwarrior.....

Above:  ...and Dreaming of Julia.....

Above:  ....and Whitney winner Fort Larned.

Above:  Turbo Compressor lets off his steam, figuratively, by smiling.

Above:  And the appropriately named Mischief Maker let off steam by trying to chew her way out of her stall.

Above:  A very interesting, hmmm, good luck charm?, at Rick Dutrow's barn.

Above:  Breakfast for a beautiful track pony.

Above:  I'm guessing this is the garden used for the backstretch tomato contest....does anyone know?  No matter what, it looked nice each day, and birds loved the sunflowers.

Above:   Many fans will miss the famous forelock of Get Stormy, a.k.a. Clyde.  Have a happy retirement!

Above:  Marylou Whitney and John Hendrickson do countless things to help racing - including sponsoring wonderful dinners for the backstretch workers.  This is Marylou and John in the Whitney winner's circle.

Above:  Allen Jerkens brought countless fans to happy tears with Emma's Encore's win in the G1 Prioress.  Although Emma can be a handful, even she knows to stand pretty, and politely, for Allen.  Go, Chief!

Above:  I loathe the new golf cart craze (simply because it makes good portraiture difficult, and, at times, impossible) - but I don't mind Allen Jerkens cruising around in one.  Above, John Kimmel has, oddly, gotten out of his cart.  What's up with that?

Above:  Gotta love Rosie and her happy Ripcord....even in a golf cart.

Above:  And Julien Leparoux and his agent cruise by the Wilkes' barn to visit with Ian and Moose.

Above:  The Stay Thirsty 2011 Travers' canoe is now owned by Mike Repole.  Hey, Mike, maybe you can slap it on top of a golf cart and cruise around in it next season.

Above:  First morning light, on withers.

Above:  Stakes winner Dancinginherdreams looks like she's made of marble.

Above:  Dog day morning for Graham Motion. 

Above:  Two ponytails, including the highly unusual tail of Lucky Chappy - who is, believe it or not, a bay (not grey).

Above:  Speaking of odd...what's missing in this photo?  Look closely.  (OK....#6 is on his own)

Above:  Cutting toward you through the fog, it's Flat Out - who in September won the Jockey Club Gold Cup for a second time.

Above:  Heading away from you are Palace Malice (left) and stakes-winner Maristar.

Above:  Guess how Jena Antonucci's pony Joker got his name.

Above:  Kiaran McLaughlin spends a comforting moment with his quirky Questing before the Alabama....

Above:  ...and Irad Ortiz, Jr., gives Questing an appreciative hug after their Alabama win.

Above:  Hessonite says, "I believe I can fly," as David Donk tries to convince her otherwise.  Approximately 15 minutes later, she won the Yaddo.

Above:  I believe I can fly, part 2 (a James Bond trainee).

Above:  I believe I can fly, part 3 (seagulls, ever-present at the Spa).

Above:  I believe I can....well, actually, they don't seem to want to.  Pigeons on the backstretch.

Above:  Jimmy Baker's 20(?)-year-old cat Peppy probably got her name in her earlier years...but she still gets around just fine, thank you, and enjoys a sunlit morning.

Above/below:  So Many Ways added a G1 Spinaway score to her G3 Schuylerville win, and, below, Tony Dutrow's wife Kim gives her some loving

Above:  Girls of all ages love horses.  Here, Chad Brown's daughter Ava reaches out to Dayatthespa in the winner's circle.

Above:  What time is it, Shaun Bridgmohan?  

Above/below:  It takes nerves of steel to ride the jumpers.  Divine Fortune - a two-time stakes winner at Saratoga - took a header in the 2012 New York Turf Writers Cup, causing favored Left Unsaid to fall, too.  Demonstrative, #3, went on to victory.

Above:  This praying-mantis-of-the-turf-course-bush was watching over Divine Fortune and Left Unsaid, as both left the course seemingly fine.

Above:   Just another heavenly morning gallop at the Spa.

Above:  A not-so-heavenly afternoon walk through the paddock for Javier Castellano.

Above:  Simon Harris puts the finishing touches on Travers' runner Liaison.  

Above:  Danny Ramsey and Travers' winner Golden Ticket on a pastel morning.

Above:  Travers' starter Nonios gets close and personal with Christina Jelm.

Above:  Ignoring the pre-race chatter about a sub-par Travers, Alpha (left) and Golden Ticket did the best they could to create a race for the ages.

Above:  Team McPeek, minus McPeek, with Golden Ticket after the race.  

Above:  If this Nick Zito colt ever wins by a nose, it'll be worth mentioning.

Above/below: Ramon Dominguez - winner, winner, chicken dinner - wins on Saratoga Snacks.

Above:  Morning training can be for the birds.

Above:  2-year-old beauty Kauai Katie, still undefeated.

Above:  A seemingly endless parade of yearlings drifted through the Fasig-Tipton ring during the sale nights.

Above:  Newton Crescent gets a hosing.

Above:  It's Tricky scrambles at the start of the Personal Ensign.  Love and Pride, left, was the winner.

Above:  Ron the Greek, looking like quite the adonis.

Above/below:  Bill Mott was unusually happy after his To Honor and Serve won the Woodward (Johnny V. up).

Above/below:  Orphaned baby squirrels Alfred, Theodore and Simone (yep, I trust Leah when she says that one's a girl!  Although don't ask me to pick her out) with their godsend Leah Gyarmati.  

Above:  This track kitchen sign has made me laugh for years.  Who wants that kind of muffin?!

Above:  Twice as nice.  2012 Travers canoes for Golden Ticket and Alpha.  Each night, they were brought in (anyone else remember the old pranks played on poor, innocent Travers' canoes?).  Each morning, they were brought back out - and their order was reversed.  That took some thought!

Above:  The side of Bruce Levine's barn in mid-August (above) and at meet's end (below).  The horses, two horseshoes and golf club are gone - but three shoes and two trees remain.  What's up with that?

Above:  After the last.  Final day of racing 2012.

Above:  My nemeses, the golf carts, were all left abandoned at meet's end.  I resisted the urge to beat them all with a hammer.

Above:  As the meet wound down, a rare blue moon created a beautiful, surreal scene.  

Above:  Goodbye to Saratoga 2012...and here's looking forward to 2013....

Travers' replay.  In my opinion this was, hands-down, the best race of the season:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqHU-WYjHWo&feature=plcp

With a most heartfelt thank you to Dan Silver, who is moving on to a new adventure at Penn National.  We will miss your generous assistance, good spirits and kinship.