07/28/2009 9:41PM

Spa Minus 1


AndsoitbeginsSARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- And so it begins.

Got here a couple of hours ago after an educational drive north: Who even knew that there's a drawbridge on the Hutchinson Parkway just before the Orchard Beach/City Island exit that stays up for nearly half an hour if you travel at the wrong time of day? It finally occurred to me to put the car into park and fish the as-yet-uncracked opening-day pp's out of my satchel, but I just wasn't feeling it. So I'm just diving in now, but I guess that's why they invented "Starbucks Doubleshot Energy + Coffee" (with "That extra surge to keep you energized and alert," according to the can.)

At least I have an extra hour and 15 minutes to do the work. I don't have to be ready for a 10:30 Siro's seminar because, as most of you have heard by now, there aren't any Siro's seminars this summer. Harvey Pack decided to retire and his apprentice seminar host, Andy Serling, got a full-time gig co-hosting NYRA's daily "Talking Horses" show. So we all decided to merge the old seminars with the NYRA show during Saratoga, and a DRF guest will join Andy and either Jason Blewitt or Eric Donovan each day in the Saratoga Carousel for a live handicapping show from 11:45 to 12:30. "Talking Horses sponsored by DRF" will be part of the NYRA simulcast signal and will also be streamed live over the Internet, I'll be the opening-day guest, followed by Dave Litfin on Thursday and David Grening on Friday.

GeneraltsoThe post-drawbridge portion of the ride was uneventful, and I got off the Northway an exit early to drive through town. I always enjoy a nostalgic moment looking at the tiny motels on the fringes of town like the Thorobred, an odd array of shacks that looks exactly the way it did when I came up here for the first time 30 years ago.

 I'll do some more extensive town reconnaissance tomorrow night, but the one thing I noticed was a new Chinese restaurant on Broadway. I have always thought it would be a brilliant business idea for someone to open such a place in a town that is swarmed with Szechuan-addicted downstaters for six weeks a year but where you heretofore could not find a decent plate of General Tso's Chicken for love or money. Full report by week's end on whether the dream has been realized.

OxygenlampAnother new establishment I have yet to sample is some sort of equine hyperbaric- chamber facility that has drawn the attention of state regulators, who yesterday hurriedly issued a new medication directive banning such treatments within a week of raceday. I guess that means we won't have to add a circled "PO" for First Time Pure Oxygen to the past performances just yet.

In the meantime, it's barely 16 hours till first post (and about 15.5 until the First Hattie's Fried Chicken Sandwich of 2009), so I better get to work on that 134-horse opening-day card.

ml/nj More than 1 year ago
Brain freeze. I wonder what I was thinking when I wrote Exit 24. I meant 13N.
Alex More than 1 year ago
One thing missing from your photo. Where are the Cheese Waffies?
Florida Larry More than 1 year ago
Nice DRF/NYRA opening day seminar. Although he was generally good, it would be 'OK' if Mr. D let the focus be more on his guest's personal picks/opinions/ideas and strategies.
daved More than 1 year ago
I like the "Talking Horses" feed from NY. Its straight gambler talk. I hope Saratoga is a good meet this year. The first week of Delmar was pathetic.
grasslover More than 1 year ago
I love to sit here and read about everyone recounting their memories of Saratoga, good or bad. I have never been there myself,never having been much of a traveler (my last trip anywhere was Florida in 1989, watching Easy Goer win the Wood Memorial sipping a drink at the poolside bar. Maybe I'll get there one day. If anyone has a web site or businesses that have travel packages to the Spa, please let me know. It would be very much appreciated. The best of luck to you all; let's get them good this year!
JD More than 1 year ago
Horrible, terrible, incredibly sad news about Siro's. Arriving early with donuts and coffee, to listen with a small crew of fellow devoted handicappers, has been my favorite part of the Saratoga ritual for so many years. I am incredibly sad about this and agree with above poster that Talkin Horses at the carousel is just not the same thing at all. I hope you guys will consider reinstating it in future years.
bobm toga More than 1 year ago
got in at 1 am this morning and am ready to go... i have 4 horses i like today. a thought about each.. race 1.. stepaside (4-1) loves the track and is perfectly set up to win the opening race where there is alot of speed to set up his closing kick.. race 3. gold trippi (12-1) has a chance to sit the outside trip just off riley and finallymadeit and bold start. gets the jump on the deep closers and ran big here almost exactly 1 yr ago..(102 beyer) race 6 midwatch (5-1) classy horse can sit just off lucky dreamer and open up before the closers get rolling. lost to big time mth horse get serious 2 back. that horse would be 2-5 here.. race 9 fanny freud (8-1) hoping he can sit off the murderous pace and come from about 3-4 lengths off. beat the boys 1st out (if form to be believed) and ran big in 11 horse field last out at woodbine. good luck to all.. i will be at the carousel 1130 am to hear who are fearless leader likes today..
Hammer More than 1 year ago
Steve, sitting here in Chicago, wishing I was at the Spa. Good luck and thanks for your blog
bochalls More than 1 year ago
What would happen if you gave that Starbucks Doubleshot Energy+Coffee to a horse on race day? That "extra surge to keep you energized and alert" would surely show up in the post race, and you'd likely get penalized with a $25 fine and a finger wagging "shame on you". Pretty tough medication rules, huh?....seriously though, do ya think So N So has a shot in the Schuy.? Strong pace numbers, but post may hurt her.
Wayne80 More than 1 year ago
Three in the booth works only if the man in the middle acts solely as a moderator. Harvey knew as much about the races as anyone, but was content to let his guests spew their knowledge. The NYRA commentators should follow his lead and refrain from giving their opinion.