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Saratoga 2014; Opening Day Excites Nostalgic Fans

Saratoga 2014; Opening Day Excites Nostalgic Fans: As the 2014 Saratoga meet approaches, simply mention “Saratoga” to anyone that has ever attended a race at the historic Saratoga Race Track and almost instantly you’ll see a mysterious smile come across their face as they recall a happy magical memory or two. You may even notice your own heart beating a little faster as they convince you that visiting Saratoga is the best life decision you could ever make. The 2014 Saratoga Meet begins with Opening Day this Friday, July 18, 2014 in Saratoga Springs, New York, which will surely lure in everyone from nostalgic fans to fresh beginners looking to create new enchanting Saratoga memories for themselves.

Saratoga 2014

The 2014 Saratoga meet begins on Friday, July 18, 2014. In addition to stakes races, the celebration of opening day includes Taste NY, a craft beer and cider festival, and Hats Off To Saratoga, a party all weekend long in Saratoga Springs, New York.
Photo: Coglianese/NYRA

Lady and The Track sat down with a few experts to get the scoop on what really makes Saratoga Race Track so special to them, besides being established in the mid-1800’s, and what every fan should know before making plans to visit the spellbinding racetrack.

Handicapper Kevin Cox, who is the most interesting character on the hit TV show Horseplayers, has a sentimental history with Saratoga Race Track. Kevin Cox, nicknamed the Brooklyn Cowboy, expressed what it feels like to return to Saratoga after all of his success this year saying, “Saratoga is like Hawaii. When you get there for the first time you wonder what took you so long, and when you leave it’s ingrained in your soul and you can’t help but go back.” (see Kevin Cox’s Saratoga selections)

Tom Flaws recommended Saratoga as a short getaway weekend for anyone in the Boston area saying, “I grew up within an hour of Saratoga and it’s really a place that has withstood the test of time and only improved with age. If you’re a horse racing aficionado it’s a place that can’t be missed. Even if you don’t care about horse racing at all there really is no better place to spend a summer afternoon.”

Flaws, who is an attorney in Cambridge, MA added, “It’s been a few years since I’ve been to the track and I really miss it. I can’t wait to get back. If you’ve been to Saratoga a hundred times or have never been, you shouldn’t miss the Saratoga Race Course.”

Bob Gusty, a patron of Saratoga for over thirty-five years, explained how Saratoga is a familiar place with tradition saying, “Last Christmas, I bought my nephew a small picture of an old man, fedora and trench coat, tipping his hat in the direction of the Saratoga flat track. The track is barren in the photo. The leaves on the trees have fallen and turned to shades of brown. The caption reads, ‘See you next year.’ For me, this picture captured the feeling I get when mid July rolls around. The comfort of something reliable, something familiar, that in a world full of chaos and uncertainty, is as much welcomed as an old friend. People need to have things to look forward to in life. This is what I look forward to. After paying my fare and walking through the turnstile, the feelings rush back to me. People from all walks of life socializing, figuring out their favorite horse to wager, Tom Durkin announcing the scratches, music playing, eating, drinking and being merry.”

Saratoga 2014

Saratoga Race Meet begins on Friday, July 18 and concludes on Monday, September 1, 2014. The Whitney Invitational and the Travers Stakes will highlight the season with fan favorites. Photo: Coglianese/NYRA

Gusty shared that Saratoga caters to the senses stating, “Be sure to visit the paddock, the horses, and the jockeys and take it all in. The sounds, the colors, scent in the air, the tastes and feel. Let Saratoga fill your senses. And when it’s post time for the first race of the summer meet, when Tom requests, for the final time of his career, to join him in celebrating the kick-off of Spa season with ‘They’re off at Saratoga,’ know that you’re part of a special tradition. It’s next year…your old friend is back. It’s good to see you.”

Owner, handicapper, and analyst for $ure Thing Selections David Gonzalez, Jr. has been a regular at Saratoga since the mid-80’s and offered up a bit of advice for beginners saying, “I have been going to Saratoga since 1972. I was only four-years-old. I have missed only one day at Saratoga since 1986 and haven’t missed a single day since 1999. I love Saratoga because the prices are good for bettors and the racing is still the best in the world.”

Gonzalez added advice for Saratoga first-timers saying, “My tip for beginners new to Saratoga would be to limit your play on Todd Pletcher to the 2-year-old races and to pay attention to the tote board in all baby races. Money speaks volumes at Saratoga in these races. During opening week also remember to pay attention as early speed can win a lot of races early on!”

The 2014 Saratoga meet begins on Friday, July 18, 2014. In addition to stakes races, the celebration of opening day includes Taste NY, a craft beer and cider festival, and Hats Off To Saratoga, a party all weekend long in Saratoga Springs, New York. View a complete calendar of Saratoga events or visit NYRA for additional information.