You shoulda been there…

The sun is shining on Saratoga today, 24 hours too late to make Travers Day 2009 an unqualified success. Though Saturday brought neither the fury of the Birdstone storm nor the inexorability of 2002’s rain, the promise of day-long precipitation suppressed both handle and attendance. The weather turned out to be not quite as bad…

Brian’s preview of the Ogden Phipps

The Ogden Phipps Handicap – Grade I — $300,000 – 1 1/16 miles – Fillies and mares –by Brian NadeauFormerly known as the Hempstead Handicap, the Phipps has for years been one of the most important stops on the calendar for the best females in training. Run at a one-turn 1 1/16-mile distance, it often…

Big Brown 1, Music Note 0

While a Big Brown-Music Note showdown on the racetrack might be a tantalizing idea, Big Brown won the PR battle hands down today…even though he was 70 miles away. Grade I races are a crowd magnet in the paddock: connections, friends, family, journalists, staff, executives…all turn out to see the cream of the crop warm…

The first Alabama

Saturday brings to us the second oldest race for fillies in the country; the Alabama Stakes, inaugurated in 1872, is younger by four years than the Ladies Handicap. The race is named for Captain William Cottrill, a Southern military man and keen horseman. Edward Hotaling, in They’re Off! Horse Racing at Saratoga, tells of the…

Saturday snapshots

Arrived at Belmont at 11:15; greeted by three fire engines (not, as it turned out, a harbinger for the Hook and Ladder first-time starter who finished fourth in the second race) and a mess of people hanging outside the clubhouse. We were nearly instantly cleared to enter the building; a transformer fire had knocked out…