Saratoga wrap-up

On Friday, August 14th, steeplechase trainer Janet Elliott became the first woman trainer elected to the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame.

On Saturday, September 5th, Rachel Alexandra became the first filly or mare to win the Woodward.

And on Monday, September 7th, Linda Rice became the first woman to win the Saratoga training title.

Some of my favorite moments of Saratoga 2009 focused on the fillies and mares:

Icon Project winning the Personal Ensign…


…Careless Jewel winning the Alabama…


Mushka winning the Glens Falls…


And when Rachel Alexandra won the Woodward, it officially became the summer of the distaff at Saratoga.

Break of the Woodward…

…and the finish…


Danielle Hodsdon won a flat race with a jump horse, Sermon of Love, on a Monday; three days later, she won a jump race with Mixed Up—no jockey had ever won a race on the flat and over the jumps in the same meet. And a few weeks later, she brought Sermon of Love back, in a jump race this time, to get second.

Sara Louise came back from Dubai to win her first start in nine months, in the Victory Ride. Music Note rebounded after a dreadful performance in the Phipps to win the Ballerina. Worstcasescenario was a surprising and impressive winner in the Adirondack.

Though there was no shortage of memorable performances from the two- and three-year-old males, it was the older males whose races stay with me. Saratoga Russell, second off a layoff, won on opening day. Macho Again, who seems to love Saratoga, turned in two great races in the Whitney and the Woodward. Naughty New Yorker—we all thought he was done, and late in the meet he just missed winning with his patented late run, becoming a millionaire in the process.


Pyro rewarded his loyal followers with a win in the Grade I Forego…


…and Commentator went for a third Whitney. He didn’t get there and retired, bidding farewell from the track where he won his first race, and three more after that.


And someone there on Woodward Day wanted to make sure that we didn’t forget the 2007 Woodward winner:


We stand in awe of the beauty of Thoroughbreds in motion, and of the beauty of this grand old track, which offers no shortage of stunning vistas…

The Travers canoe, in the colors of Summer Bird…

…the magnificent view from the roof…


…and morning workouts…

By virtually any measure, Saratoga 2009 was a success. And for me, it was a summer beyond my wildest imaginings. The opportunity to write for the iconic Pink Sheet was not something I could have considered when Brooklyn Backstretch was launched two years ago; thanks to Brien Bouyea, the sports editor who gave me a shot, and to Nicole Russo, Chris Fitz Gerald, and Michael Veitch, whose wisdom and experience were invaluable to me throughout the meet. My articles for the Saratogian are available here.

Thanks, too, to Jeanne Wood and Seth Merrow, for opportunities to talk about racing on TV and on the radio, and to all of the writers who offered advice, humor, insight…and a drink when the situation called for one.

Today is the second day of school; the transition is complete. Instead of talking about stakes races, breeding, and cat horses, I’m talking about sonnets, short stories, and opening paragraphs, and that, too, is rewarding and fun.

And hey…Belmont opens tomorrow!

9 thoughts on “Saratoga wrap-up

  1. Great shots, by all accounts, a mostly great meet. Enjoyed seeing you at the Spa…and reading your work here and at The Pink Sheet.

  2. that's a great body of work covering saratoga 2009; i was an avid reader. i know about public school openings and the new fall routines in NY, too, with one son in HS in Manhattan, the other in the 8th grade in Brooklyn.i'd hope they get a teacher who can write like you this fall.

  3. Teresa: It was a great meet and your pieces, both here as well as in the Saratogian were among the best I read this summer. I really enjoyed your race recaps, and it was nice to see you get a shot at that type of assignment.You mentioned some wonderful highlights from the past 6 weeks, but don't forget about Flashing's Test with The Mig aboard. The emotion and joy shared between jockey and fans that afternoon was really special to see. And I also thank Brian for all the work he puts into his weekly P4 write-ups. Sure, we all could have used a few more winners, but the journey was great, and was made better by your work. Good luck w/the school year and I'm hoping to make it out to Belmont this Sat with my 2 girls, so we will look for you. I hope the rain won't kill the day, but rain on Sat at BEL came too often during May and June.

  4. Thanks for the Saratoga re-cap. Bummed because this was the first season in years I couldn't make it up for a weekend. Your pics helped me see what i missed. Definitely next year . . .

  5. Thank you so much, Spa–great to meet you, too, finally.Sid: Truly, that's the nicest thing you could say. Thank you. BSaint: Thank you for pointing those two egregious oversights–which will be remedied in tomorrow's post. I'll be there Saturday, too, rain or shine.Thanks, Steve…hope you can make it next year.

  6. TeresaI always enjoy reading your posts. I spent a week in Saratoga this year and it just wasn't long enough. I was heartbroken to leave and drive back to Virginia. I wanted to get back for the Woodward but couldn't make it, but I did get to see Rachel work on the Oklahoma track. Thanks for all the commentary and pictures, it's almost as good as being there.

  7. You always write so beautifully about Saratoga, it’s always a pleasure to read. Every year I say I will get out there (I’m in Boston) and every year it doesn’t happen for some reason. It’s a travesty really. Next year!

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