Reflections on ten years of images that capture the allure and excitement of the Saratoga racing scene
Ortiz Brothers Up
When I looked at it this image the faces of future Hall of Fame Jockeys Irad Ortiz Jr. and younger brother José Ortiz jumped right out at me. What’s unique about the shot is that the brothers appear shoulder-to-shoulder and head on during a race. The fact that they are the only jockeys with “heads up” attests to the opinion that they have great vision for seeing a race as it unfolds before them. That skill often putting them in the best position to be the first to cross the wire.
Poor Past Performance
Every horseplayer has them. That’s right, losing tickets that go uncashed. One thing is for sure, this collage of Saratoga tickets from the 1950’s and 1960’s shows that these “old losers” sure had lot more character than the auto totes of today.
150 Years of Racing
This sepia tone image taken of horses and jockeys as they leave the backstretch on a seven-furlong race seems timeless. The unique ovals of the Saratoga 150th Commemorative emblems perfectly frame both sides of the starting gate in the distance.
Hail to the Chief
I’ve been told that this image of Hall of Fame Trainer, Allen Jerkens looks like it was from a Hollywood movie set. Not quite, but it does capture the early morning beauty of Saratoga. In it, a young stable hand looks up to “ The Chief” as he presides over AM chores. When I gave Mr. Jerkens a copy of the print many years ago, he studied it quite intently and was very appreciative of the gesture. He just seemed like a lovely and very humble man. This image was in Bloodhorse Magazine in 2015
American Pharaoh at Saratoga
After watching the Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah fly past me on the first turn with his ears pricked up and ready to run, most of the 50,000 on hand for the 2015 Travers Stakes were hoping for another win on his stellar resume. Sadly, there was little joy in Saratoga Springs that evening after the champion ran a gutsy race but fell victim to this historic racetrack’s ominous nickname; Graveyard of Champions
DRF- Dressed Real Fine
One of the undeniable attractions of Saratoga is the fashionable women that adorn the grounds. The patterns on the dresses of these young ladies just pop as their two arms cross at a precise moment linking these two friends in time. The kiosk that houses the staple of most serious horseplayers (the Daily Racing Form) juxtaposes the young women perfectly
TRAVERS 2016 - Arrogate on the Lead
This image shows eventual winner, Arrogate on the lead into the first turn of the 2016 Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course. Piloted by hall of fame jockey Mike Smith, Arrogate stayed on the lead for the entire race, won by 13½ lengths and set a Travers and track record for the mile and a quarter at 59.36 seconds. The New York Times quoted competing trainer, Steve Asmussen saying, “We ran into a freak today”.
Shoe and Brew
Half empty or half full? This image is a great metaphor for the annual Saratoga meet. Those of us that love the track and the good times associated with it can’t wait for the season to begin but at day’s close, you know we're inching nearer to its bittersweet end.
Quite a few outrider ponies at Saratoga but I don’t think I have ever seen a more perfect paint pony than, King Arthur. Like many people I thought the term was “painted pony” but that is only the name of the artistically painted horses that appear on Broadway.
Travers Dead On
Captured just after the finish line, jockey David Cohen under explicit instructions from trainer, Ken McPeek to ride the rail on long shot Golden Ticket are caught at the wire by Ramon Dominquez on the favorite Alpha to dead heat in the 2012 Travers Stakes at Saratoga.
Castellano and the Campbells
Late horse racing partnership pioneer Cot Campbell and his wife, Anne appear with other connections and Javier Castellano in the #Saratoga paddock. Anne has been quoted as describing Saratoga as a “magical” place. Who can disagree with that? @jjcjockey @DogwoodStable @theNYRA
Dusk at the Spa
As the last light leaves the sky after a full day of racing excitement, the stands are empty and quiet. The clean up crews work in the warm glow of the evening lights, as racing fans are long gone to enjoy the lively summer nightlife of the Saratoga city scene.
I took this shot a decade ago, on my very first visit to the Saratoga backstretch where I fell in love with the pastoral serenity of this historic racetrack. When I took this shot I was obviously not the only one with amorous notions that misty morning.
Rice and Wooley
Mind That Mind trainer, Chip Woolley with his familiar black hat and crutches enjoys a late day bite at the Spa in 2009. Although I was well aware of the slender woman on the phone across from Chip, I did not realize it was Linda Rice until I was reviewing my paddock shots from the day and then made the connection. 2009 was a big year for Rice. She became the first woman to ever win the training title that summer at Saratoga.
Except for the two days of Breeders Cup action once a year, the summer Saratoga Meet probably hosts the most competitive races in the country. There’s lots of pride and pressure on the line for jockeys and trainers to bring home a winner while at the prestigious Spa. A day a “the Spa” is not very relaxing for these individuals on the front line. The concentration and intensity seen in the face of Eclipse Award winning jockey, Jose Ortiz truly burns in this image.
Okay I am exhausted! How about you? By this time, all our friends that work to broadcast, report on and tell us the stories and get us pumped up every new day #Saratoga racing: Are also WIPED OUT! Thanks for it all. Chill with this image. @MaggieWolfndale @andyserling @TheNYRA
Always lots of talented people at #Saratoga. Musicians, dancers and artists of all kinds bring plenty of life to the party of the meet. Anybody know these gents? Enjoy this "swan song" of the summer. @saratogacom
Taken in 2013, the unique ovals of the Saratoga 150th year Commemorative emblems perfectly frame both sides of the starting gate in the distance at America’s oldest sporting venue.
With bars open til 4:00 AM, the night time scene is lively after the day’s racing is done. Fans gather to celebrate or commiserate their wagering with libations around Broadway. The bright neon lights at this tavern reflect good times in this horse lover’s town
Blue and Shoe
This image gives a nod to Saratoga’s famous claim to fame as the city of "Health, History and Horses" seen on many plaques around town. The connections what brought visitors here for many, many years are linked in a simple arrangement of color and form.
The power, speed, grace and beauty of the Triple Crown champion are celebrated in the magnificent frame of the champ caught in mid air and striking form at the Saratoga Race Course.
Saratoga Shoe In
The title of this piece is really two-fold. It describes this Saratoga Brew Pub that garners a strong following as one of the “must visit” establishments in town. Secondly, the location on Broadway is well "shoehorned" between buildings and can be easy to missed.
A Rosie Profile
This young woman was one tough jockey who was well respected by most knowledgeable horseplayers. Rosie Napravnik’s top ten national earnings and ranking while racing, spoke to her notable success in a profession dominated by men.
Back to Clare Court
After an early morning workout, an exercise rider and his mount quietly clop back to the pastoral confines of Clare Court on the Saratoga backside. This image from this historic track captures the charming beauty of these old stables and bucolic setting.
Although the call for "Riders Up" is heard around tracks all across the country, this image of a pensive jockey on the way from the paddock along the shaded walkway to the post parade is distinctly Saratoga.
The statue of Sea Hero (1990 Derby & Travers champ) and the captivating hat of a young woman are illuminated in the afternoon sunlight of the paddock at the Spa. The familiar green rooftop of Big Red Spring can also be seen in the shaded picnic grounds beyond.
Frankel and Friend
Hall of Fame Trainer Bobby Frankel passed away in 2009. The image was taken at Saratoga in the summer of 2006. The following summer, I gave Bobby a copy of it one morning. I said, “I have a print of you and your dog”. In what sounds true to form, he said, “that’s not my dog” as all of his assistants chuckled around us. That being said, he was gracious enough to sign a second copy for me with the note. “To Jim, Robert Frankel”. I think that was a pretty big deal for him to do that.
Full House Turn
With a full house crowd lining the rails, a tight pack of runners makes their initial pass of the grandstand as they enter the first turn on a 1 1/4 mile race. This small print captures the start of the "Classic Distance" at a classic angle on a picture perfect afternoon!
Behind the Break
Anyone who has closely watched what goes on to load the gate knows what a dangerous task this can be for the men and women that work on these crews.I love the framing and spacing of the starters, overlooking their charges as they spring from the gate!
First Winners Circle
Taken after the first race on the first day of racing at Churchill Downs in the 2010 Spring Meet, Hall of Fame Jockey, Calvin Borel celebrates in the winner’s circle with a young girl in her First Communion dress. The following week, Borel rode Super Saver to victory in the Kentucky Derby making him the first jockey to win three Derbies in four years. Lots of firsts here including my first winner’s circle image. I later learned that Calvin and I share the same birthday.
Jan Rushton was the paddock analyst and popular television host for NYRA since 1995. Sadly, she resigned her post in 2009 to attend to her ailing brother. The title of the image, expresses a statement that Jan’s fans would exclaim If they saw her at the Spa again.
Breakfast of Champions
If you have been fortunate enough to have access to the Saratoga morning workouts, it is an experience you will never forget. A hot cup of coffee and the simple pleasure of watching the sights and sounds on even one visit provides a lifetime of memories.
Just A Boy
I love the colors and activity in this print. All the connections of the runners for the next race congregating in the paddock. Most of the fans around the outside of the paddock would love to have this opportunity to be so close to all of this pre-race pageantry and excitement. In the middle of this scene is a young boy who does not seem to appreciate how lucky he is. Some say the horseshoe in the tree above crowd makes this a lucky print
Grazing in the Irons
With all of the excitement and activity that surrounds the Saratoga Race Course during the summer meet, it’s easy to over look some of the beautiful ironwork that subtly embellishes the outside of the clubhouse design. Installed as part of racetrack renovations in 1937, this distinctive iron art and architecture serve as added reminders of the distinctive character and charm of the Saratoga mystique.
For the most avid of Saratoga fans what’s better than an afternoon at the Spa’s backyard with a copy of the Daily Racing Form, the track program and a couple of “Buds” with some friends? American Pharaoh adorns the cover on “the form” in this image.
The power of this image comes from the wonderful spacing of the of horses as they head into the clubhouse turn. The viewer’s eyes are drawn to the pointed ears of the eager runners and their rustling hooves as they rumble over the lines of the well-groomed track.
Blue Striped Hat
Who is the mysterious young woman under the blue striped hat? Not sure but she has the attention of a young man under the familiar awning of a Saratoga paddock area bar. The “Spa” is surely one of the best places in the world for summertime people watching!
In addition to the reds a plenty in this image, the long morning shadows truly help to bring this piece together. This composition also captures both the peacefulness and wealth of beauty on the Saratoga backstretch.
Just after the paddock call for “riders up”, young jockey Alan Garcia is captured in a private moment. Minutes later his mount, Cocalero, stumbles badly out of the gate almost throwing Garcia to the ground. Horseracing is recognized as one of the most dangerous sports in the world. It is no wonder that superstition and prayers for protection are common practices around the racetrack.
Okay, this little guy doesn’t look that menacing but he sure looks ready to size anybody up that approaches these stables on Clare Court. I am pretty sure I heard someone call this pint-sized character, “Biscuit”. Anybody know? What a great name for racetrack dog.
Linda Rice, Julien Leparoux, and Alan Garcia walk the paddock before the call for “riders up”. Linda had both jockeys in this race and the riders finished one, two. The amorous couple in the upper right background is an intriguing part of the composition. Rice has said herself that her personal life has taken somewhat of a backseat to the dedication required for her success in the very competitive world of thoroughbred horse racing. Linda was the first woman ever to win training title at the Sa
Day at the Spa
On a picture perfect afternoon in Saratoga Springs, the stage is set for another day of racing at the oldest sporting venue in the US. One of the most picturesque racecourses in the world, “the Spa” is a haven for casual fans & dedicated horseplayers alike.