Saturday, August 11, 2012

From the Jersey Shore to The Spa

Looking out over the crowd near the finish line on
Haskell Day at Monmouth Park
 To most of the country, the weeks leading up to the Kentucky Derby are the biggest horse racing days of the year. Not to take anything away from the weeks that surround the Triple Crown season, but my racing calendar is a little different. My season, the few weeks I look forward to the entire rest of the year, happens at Saratoga.

This year, though, in addition to Saratoga, I was treated to a lovely girls day trip with friends to "The Shore's Greatest Stretch" also known as Monmouth Race Track. When we'd initially discussed attending The Haskell there was an abundance of equine possibilities. Union Rags, Bodemeister, Hansen were all in the mix. And it was the thought of being within a few yards of handsome and talented Union Rags that originally prompted me to even consider a drive down the Shore for Haskell day.
There's a real mid-century feel to Monmouth
 As happens in racing, though, more often than not lately, the "big" horses didn't make the trip to New Jersey. Union Rags was injured and retired, Hansen's connections decided for West Virginia (perhaps a blue-tail friendly Utopia?) and the million-dollar Haskell day was suddenly a little quieter. I'm so pleased I went to spend time with fun, horse-loving friends, see the track and just enjoy a good day of racing. With fewer big-draw type horses, the crowds were a little smaller so I was able to really walk around and see the pretty paddock and get a better feel for Monmouth. A very good day was had by all--once we finally found someone who could show us to our seats--and I'll look forward to more racing days enjoying those soothing ocean breezes.

The good and the great are represented with banners
hung under the grandstands

A classic Saratoga view
 A few short days after my Monmouth adventure, I departed for what passes for heaven for me, the horsey mecca that is Saratoga Springs, New York. The Spa.

The instantly recognizable peaks and rafters of the Saratoga
I've waxed (repeatedly) rhapsodic on the virtues--great and small--of Saratoga, so I'll spare you that in this post. From the architecturally iconic grandstand to the beautiful white ironwork, though, it's hard not to love this place.

I love the signage, beadboard ceilings, and last century
feel that you can't help but soak up in Saratoga
And that's not even mentioning the horses. Horses, **sigh.** This summer I had promised myself that I was going to spend some time at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Selected Yearlings Sale. The closest I've ever been to the sales is when, at an Arabian auction, my parents very nearly bought me an expensive horse while gesturing that it was time to go. Luckily, this time I had a very skilled guide and I got the best possible introduction to the sale and process of getting yearlings ready for the sale. Seeing all the colts and fillies close up, browsing the catalog for interesting and eye-catching pedigrees was great fun. There's just nothing like being able to see the youngsters up close and really get a look at how they move, how they walk, what their bone structure is. 

The Fasig-Tipton sales area is just a block or two from the track
in Saratoga, so parking is at a premium

The beautifully bred and all-class
Bernardini colt that I fell
in love with at the Four Star Sales barn
Needless to say, I fell in love with more than one yearling in the sales barns. I'm totally on board with equine polyamory, by the can't help but love more than one horse. I was like a schoolgirl meeting the classy and handsome Bernardini colt in the Four Star Sales barn. 

The other colt I fell for, hip 182
And then there was this little Arch colt. While I love a dappled grey, I'm also a sucker for a dark bay and this Arch colt just caught my eye.

I look forward to spending more time at the sales, watching and learning, and getting a firsthand look at these young horses, some of whom may be stars some day. If you're interested in any of the other photos, stop over to my flickr page right HERE.

1 comment:

Accessories said...

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