The Saratoga Special et al.

As expected, the Women’s Day Expo lacked the sexy elements that Gentlemen’s Day included last weekend, and as expected, it was located all the way at the back of the track, near the Big Red Spring, while the Gentlemen’s Day exhibit was placed just inside the main gates off of Union Avenue.

While the men (and the women who stopped by) enjoyed about half a dozen exhibits, including cigars and bourbon, the women were treated to far more presentations, featuring at least two types of laser-provided body enhancements; lots of jewelry; some clothing; a spa; and infertility and gynecology treatments. And it was pretty busy…a steady stream of women (and a few men) entered the tent (at least during the brief time I was there, early in the day), and most of the exhibiters looked pretty busy. Women’s Day had the benefit of being held on one of the rare gloriously sunny days when the backyard was packed; the Saturday of Gentlemen’s Day was likewise beautiful, while Sunday, when I was there, was, as has become customary, soggy and muddy.

Turning to females and males on the track, this fourth week at Saratoga features two graded stakes for two-year-olds, both of which were first held in 1901. Yesterday we had the Grade II Adirondack at six and a half furlongs, won in front-running fashion by Steve Klesaris’s Mani Bhavan; today, the colts go the same distance in the Grade II Saratoga Special.

The first running of the Special was on August 10th, 1901, and the Travers was held the same day. As the NYRA website notes,

When first run in 1901, the Saratoga Special was a winner-take-all event for
two-year-olds in which owners could nominate their horses in sets of three for
one fee. However, each owner could only run one horse in the race, regardless of
how many good two-year-olds he had in his stable; in other words, no entries
were allowed. These conditions were changed in 1959, when the Special was turned
into a regular stakes race, with individual nominations and entries.

In that first running, the boys and the girls came together, as William C. Whitney’s colt Goldsmith beat “the champion filly of her age and year,” Blue Girl, the leading money-earner in 1901. Blue Girl, carrying three fewer pounds than Goldsmith, was favored in the betting and lost by a “scant head,” after leading by a length at the eighth pole.

The New York Times article that recaps the Special includes a report from a meeting of the Stewards of the Jockey Club:

August Belmont, J.H. Bradford, F.R. Hitchcock, Andrew Miller, and J.G.
Follansbee were present. The Secretary was authorized to correct the
registration of the two-year-old Coldstream from Onondaga-Lady Dixon to
Onondaga-May Dixon. The investigation of the Fingal case was postponed
awaiting copy of the official ruling of the Fort Erie Jockey club.

Fifty dollars was appropriated from the jockey fund for ex-Jockey Charles
Ossler. AT the request of the Stewards of the National Steeplechase and
Hunt Association Jockey Jerry Murphy was reinstated for steeplechase and hurdle
races. In the matter of the charges preferred by Trainer William Karrick
against Jockey McGinn the Stewards decided the same were unfounded.

Further research on some of the above yielded mostly frustration; Coldstream of the corrected registration doesn’t appear anywhere I looked, nor could I discover the details of the Fingal case.
The Karrick/McGinn case, though, sounds like a quite a juicy early twentieth century racing story. A story in the Times on August 4th, 1901, reports on the closing day of the Brighton Beach meet, when Lady Radnor ran for the second consecutive day:

In connection with the matter of riding the one scandal of the meeting to be
aired in public cropped up. This concerned the effort of Jockey McGinn on Lady
Radnor the day before. Yesterday Trainer W. Karrick put up another jockey and
Lady Radnor won from better horses than those that beat her in the former race.
Karrick, after comparing results, declared he would appeal to the stewards of
the Jockey Club for investigation and would ask release from his contract with

Several days later, as noted above, the stewards found the trainer’s claim “unfounded”…but that clearly did not put an end to the disputes between Karrick and McGinn. From October of 1901:

A new complication was added to the controversy between Jockey T. McGinn and the horse trainer, W. Karrick, yesterday, when announcement was made that a stable boy employed by McGinn to furnish perjured testimony in the jockey’s suit
against Karrick for slander had confessed. McGinn’s suit grew out of the charge
made by Karrick that the rider had ridden a dishonest race on the filly Lady
Rodnar, at Brighton Beach. According to Karrick, McGinn, to support his action,
hired one of Karrick’s stable boys to swear that Karrick “doped” or drugged his
horses, to cause them to win or lose as suited his bets. The boy who is said to
have confessed, will be introduced as a witness in the case.

This relationship makes Dutrow/Desormeaux look like a playground squabble. I was unable to find any further information on how the case was—or wasn’t—resolved, but clearly, that Stewards of the Jockey Club meeting, held on the day of the Saratoga Special 107 years ago, didn’t settle things.

None of the nine colts entered into today’s stakes race will have the opportunity to repeat Goldsmith’s 1901 victory over a filly; the morning line favorite is Lyin’ Heart at 3 – 1, from the never-to-be-ignored duo of Asmussen and Bridgmohan.

3 thoughts on “The Saratoga Special et al.

  1. “..when announcement was made that a stable boy employed by McGinn to furnish perjured testimony.. “Lyin’ Heart for sure!

  2. Instead of marginalizing the patrons by employing hackneyed themes such as Men’s day or Ladies’ day, might I suggest that NYRA try fan day.Reduced takeouts, good customer service and decent food.

  3. Ernie’s at it again…Winston–having spent approximately the last twenty-five race days at the track, the cost of programs, at $3 per, is killing me. I know that I can download and print at home, but toner’s expensive, too. I’d kill for a “frequent buyer” program that might knock down the cost of my programs…

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