Saratoga infield (2)

“The town is the track, and the track is the town.”

Heady words, from a man who should know. Roberts writes about the history and architecture of racetracks, recently collaborating with the New York Racing Association and the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation, creating an inventory of Saratoga’s buildings and landscape. With Isabelle Taylor, he publishedThe Spa: Saratoga’s Legendary Racecourse, an architectural history of the track that…

The Preakness and the Lost New York Years

The Preakness is Maryland’s race: it’s “Maryland, My Maryland” and black-eyed Susans and blue crabs. It’s so important to the state that when financial difficulties threatened racing in Maryland,the governor stepped in to make sure that the Preakness would stay in Baltimore. But 124 years ago, when financial woes imperiled the racing industry in Maryland, nothing…

Peter Pan, & Handicapping According To The Tides

There is something unsettling about the name of Peter Pan, the 1907 Belmont Stakes winner by Commando out of Cinderella. Thinking about Cinderella giving birth to Peter Pan is the stuff that childhood nightmares are made of, and “Commando” certainly brings up rather a different image from Prince Charming. Peter Pan’s racing career was relatively…

So who was this Wood guy, anyway?

The New York racing calendar is full of races named for the men instrumental in bringing the sport to life in our state. The roles in racing history of Belmont and Travers, Jerome and Dwyer are well documented, and these men leave an easy-to-follow trail for contemporary race fans to follow. Not so Mr. Eugene…

A filly on the Derby trail: Cicada in 1962

Before Secretariat, there was Cicada. A decade before Secretariat became the first colt in 25 years to win the Triple Crown, Christopher Chenery (father of Helen) campaigned a filly who was setting her own records. At two, Cicada started 16 times, winning eleven races and never finishing worse than third; among her victories that year…

“It is now post time”: Fred “Cappy” Capossela

There is no sound more exciting to the racetrack customer than the trenchant, nasal exclamation of “They’re off!” by Fred Capossela. With this brief expression, the New York track announcer sums up the promise of clamorous jockeys, flailing whips and eager-to-race horses springing from the starting gate. (Tuite) Capossela was NYRA’s track announcer for 37…