Opening day at Saratoga requires no small amount of preparation under perfect conditions: What to wear? Where to sit? What beer should stock the cooler? How many sandwiches should we bring? What’s the bankroll for the day (gotta plan for 39 more days!)?
Opening day 143, though, looks like it’s going to require even more careful planning than usual, under conditions that are going to be less than perfect—maybe even adverse.
For starters, plan to leave some extra travel time if you’re coming from the south. On July 12…yes, ten days before the start of Saratoga’s busiest time of year…construction began on the exit 14 ramp from and bridge over the north-bound Northway…yes, the very exit located most closely to Saratoga Race Course.
As of this morning, the right lane of the Northway is closed about a mile or so before the exit, and traffic on the ramp itself has been reduced from two lanes to one.
Off the exit and heading up Union Avenue, traffic is routed off the usual west-bound lanes, with two lanes leading west towards the track, and one lane leading east towards Saratoga Lake.
One might hope that in the evenings, travellers will get two east-bound lanes, but I’ve not heard anything to that effect.
Here’s the July 9 story Saratogian story on the construction.
And then, of course, there’s the heat.
Possibly the most miserable day I have ever spent at a racetrack was Street Sense’s Travers. The track was crowded, the backyard was packed, and brutal heat and humidity made walking to the clubhouse and back an enervating experience. I vividly recall dipping discarded T-shirts (not my own!) into coolers of ice and wrapping them around my head.
And if the current forecast is even close to right (and we can take heart that weather forecasters nail it about as often handicappers are, right?), we’ll be feeling like it’s about 100 degrees as we watch the awesome James Marvin go off late Friday afternoon.
We’ll have to hope that the caretakers of the clubhouse take pity on the gentlemen race fans who will be wearing their obligatory jackets (commenter Lynne on the previous post assures us that such things happen), and make sure that those coolers contain at least some beverages that are neither caffeinated nor alcoholic.
No plans as of now to cancel, and let’s hope that that stays the case, that the weather permits both humans and horses to kick off Saratoga 143 with style, pleasure, and safety.