Sep 11 2015

Intangibles Make Saratoga Special

Welcome to Saratoga

By Guest Author: Nancy Meyers

When Neal asked me to submit a series of articles about Saratoga, the initial idea was that I would focus on specific topics about where to stay, where to eat and what to see at the track and around town. I’ve enjoyed writing the articles and thank Neal for the opportunity to assist him during his time of recovery. My husband and I once again traveled to Saratoga earlier this month with our Corgi for another week to enjoy racing, the Philadelphia Orchestra at SPAC and a city that we felt we knew and love. It would have been easy to simply write about specific topics and leave it at that, but our recent trip to the Spa compelled me to ask Neal to allow me to write a final installment about the intangibles that make Saratoga so special.

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Sep 5 2015

Kentucky Downs – A Pastoral and Primal Experience

Gate Break Kentucky Downs

Kentucky Downs Starting Gate

REPRINTED ARTICLE from September 22, 2014.

LIVE Racing in 2015 on September 5, 10, 12, 16, 19.

I recently returned to Kentucky Downs for the 2nd consecutive year, and I’m happy to report my experience was exhilarating. At one point I said to my wife, “This is becoming my favorite racetrack to visit.” Without missing a beat, she replied, “You say that about EVERY racetrack that we visit.” Touché.

We do visit a lot of racetracks. Just in the past year, I counted ten altogether. From Saratoga, down to Gulfstream, and all the way up to Emerald Downs in the Pacific Northwest. But Kentucky Downs is different, and in this case I mean “different” in a good way.

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Aug 30 2015

Head Trainer Tom Morley – Honesty Is His Trademark

Tom Morley2 Spa 2015

Head Trainer Tom Morley

When we last visited with Tom, nearly two years ago, his stable consisted of himself, Maggie Wolfendale, one groom, one hot-walker, and about a dozen horses. Since that time, his stable has grown to around fifty horses, with 33 stabled on the grounds at Saratoga and Belmont, a dozen two-year olds in nearby training centers where Tom visits them on a regular basis, and about five older horses turned out at farms (having a mid-season break). His staff now consists of two full-time assistants, eight grooms, eight hot-walkers, and, of course, now lady of the castle – Maggie Wolfendale-Morley.

Tom Morley Stable remains a New York based operation, but will soon be expanding into other racing circuits. Tom told us “Fifty horses is a good competitive number to divide the stable”. After Saratoga, Tom plans on leaving some horses at Saratoga and moving the rest back to Belmont. In the fall, he intends to send some horses to Keeneland for the first time. Then over the winter he plans to ship a division to Florida and stable them at either Payson Park or Palm Meadows. In Florida, his two assistants, Pearl Hagadorn and Sarah O’Brien, will manage the operations while Tom runs the New York division. Tom added “In the future, when my staff has been with me longer, I wouldn’t be afraid to let the number of horses grow larger. At the end of the day, it’s not just a numbers game, but you need to have the numbers because there is always a level of attrition, when horses get hurt, sick, or taken away by an owner.”

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Aug 23 2015

Know Your Trainers – Pletcher vs. Mott

Includes data through July 23, 2015 (with a recent update on a Bill Mott turnaround category).

A frequent question asked by new fans trying to learn more about horse racing is, “Where do I begin?” My immediate response is generally, “Get to know your trainers.” While learning about topics like distance, class, and pace are important … in my opinion, none are as important as learning about the tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses of trainers. With that thought in mind, last year we started a new series of articles called “Know Your Trainers.”

In this series we will dig into the statistics of some head trainers and try to make sense of the numbers we find. We thought it might be fun to present the numbers in a “competitive” manner by pairing trainers. With that said, we are not trying to judge the trainers or claim that one is better than another. Our intention is to pair trainers who have statistics in comparable categories and present some plausible reasons why they might differ.

Here is an update on two of the big names in the business, Todd Pletcher and Bill Mott. Our focus will be on two main areas; Graded Stakes and First Time Starters (FTS). The statistics presented were gathered with Daily Racing Form’s online software Formulator. We limited the data to the past two years, but you can go back five years if you want a larger sample of data.

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Aug 17 2015

Heading to Saratoga: Where to Eat and Drink

Welcome to Saratoga

By Guest Author: Nancy Meyers

Part 1 of this series gave some tips on things to think about when selecting a location to stay in Saratoga. Click here to read that article.

Part 2 of this series offered some “Must See and Do’s” while you are visiting the Saratoga Springs area.  Click here to read that article.

So now that you have found a place to stay, and have outlined a plan of things to see while traveling around Saratoga, where will you enjoy a meal with family or friends?  In full disclosure, my husband and I do not have children, so if it’s family friendly places you are interested in, we can’t be of much help, except to acknowledge restaurants that appeared to have a lot of families in them.  In addition, I am only offering commentary about restaurants or bars or lounges in which we have enjoyed a cocktail or eaten a meal.  Reports from other friends about their experiences are not included. Finally, we usually rent a place within walking distance of downtown, so there are few restaurants that require a drive out of town.   Here they are, in no particular order.

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Aug 10 2015

Attacking The Spa With Negative Stats

By Guest Author: Jim Mazur

Back in the good old days when I first started playing the horses (’72), this used to be an easy game to wager on. After handicapping the race, one simply went to the window and bet the selection to win, place or show. If a player really wanted to get exotic, then he or she could tie up two selections in a daily double.

Easy game. Can of corn. Now fast forward 43 years. The wagering menu has grown leaps and bounds both vertically and horizontally. From a vertical standpoint, there are now exactas, trifectas, superfectas and super5s. Horizontally, the game has evolved first into the Pick 3 and then wider into sequences demanding winners in 4, 5 6 and sometimes 9 consecutive races.

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Aug 4 2015

Dime A Day – Fun Tournament for Saratoga and Del Mar

Dime A Day

On Xpressbet.com there is a tournament called Dime-a-Day. It is offered for two race tracks (Del Mar and Saratoga) during the summer months. There is no registration fee, but you have to register and be a member of Xpressbet.  After registration, you make “live” wagers of $10 per day on a single Win, Place, or Show bet. Live meaning the money you are betting is real money from your account, not mythical money as in some tournaments. Of course that also means that if your bet wins, you get the money added to your account regardless of what happens in the tournament.

The format is fairly simple. Each racing day you place a single contest wager of $10 to Win, Place, or Show on a any horse in any race. At the end of the day Xpressbet awards $1,000 in prize money to the person(s) who won the most money with their $10 wager. In the event of a tie, the prize money is evenly distributed to the winning players for each position.  The top three payoffs for daily prizes is the following:

Position Daily Prize Money
1st $700
2nd $200
3rd $100

At the end of the season additional prize money is distributed to competitors with the most cumulative contest earnings over the course of the entire season.  The top three seasonal prizes are:

Position Season Prize Money
1st $6,000
2nd $3,000
3rd $1,000

I have played in this tournament the past three years at Saratoga, and have shared in the prize money multiple times.  Even if I didn’t, I still would have enjoyed the experience. Read More >>

Jul 30 2015

Heading to Saratoga – Must See and Do’s

Welcome to Saratoga

By Guest Author: Nancy Meyers

Part 1 of this series gave some tips on things to think about when selecting a location to stay in Saratoga. Click here to read that article.

So now you have a place to stay and know that you are going to be spending most days at the track.  That leaves a little time to sample a lot of what makes Saratoga special especially if you complete your handicapping the night before or wait until arriving on track.

Excluding the dining and bar scene, (which will be covered in a later post), here are the various things that can make your stay extra special:

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Jul 23 2015

Heading to Saratoga – Where to Stay?

Welcome to Saratoga

By Guest Author: Nancy Meyers

Let me begin by stating that  a lot of websites can better describe the history of Saratoga, the race track, parks and tourist options  than I can in this blog.  A quick Google search can probably provide excess information in that regard. But once you’ve decided to take the plunge and travel to Saratoga, one of the most critical decisions has to be selection of accommodations.

Saratoga Springs has multiple housing options from “Mom & Pop” motels, chain hotels, B&B’s, one room efficiencies, condos, and house rentals.  If you stay on or near the main thoroughfare, Broadway, realize that a walk from downtown  Saratoga Springs to the track is a solid 20 minutes.  On a humid, salty day in August, the walk at midday or at the end of a day at the track can be a bit taxing and even result in a race through a thunderstorm – something we have experienced from time to time. Depending on the relative fitness of you and your guests and all that you want to take to the track, you may find yourself driving and parking near the track anyway.

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Jul 14 2015

Saratoga and Personal Update July 2015

Saratoga

Saratoga is just around the corner, 10 days away. That means it’s time to change the photo on our homepage to be the starting gate for Saratoga race course. Like all horse racing fans who live in upstate New York, I feel this is the “most wonderful time of the year.”

Unfortunately for me, I might have to enjoy it from a distance this year. For those of you who have been following the website recently, you know that I had medical problems early in the year, which were resolved with surgery in May. However, after recovering from those issues, I had a serious back injury that I am still dealing with to this day. With that said, there is some hope. Tomorrow I am going in for a series of injections in my back that hopefully will relieve some of the severe pain in my facet joints, and allow me to return to physical therapy, where I am trying to regain the strength I lost from the prior surgery.

OK, so enough of the bad news. Here is the good news, I have the good fortune of several friends, family members, and people I have met through this website that are going to help me produce material throughout the course of the Saratoga meet. In fact, it will be very interesting to present some material that I probably would not have written due to my own ignorance of the subject matter.  For example, in a survey I did last year there were several requests from readers wanting to learn more about the housing options when visiting Saratoga. Since I’ve lived in this area my entire life, I really had no expertise in providing this information. So, our first contributing author is going to provide an article about housing options in Saratoga.

Following this first article, she will write about sights to see and things to do beyond the race track. Also in a third installment, she will discuss important information for people who are relatively new visitors to Saratoga racetrack. I truly feel these will be a valuable series of articles for people who are not from this area and can use some guidance on what to do when they arrive here for the first, second, third, or tenth time.

In addition to these articles, we will have traditional racing information for our experienced fans, with the help of some experts in the field. And hopefully as my condition improves, I will be able to resume producing the type of material I have been doing for the past two years. And with any luck, I’ll make it to the races for the latter half of the meet. If you happen to see me in the paddock with one of my Getting Out of the Gate T-shirts, feel free to say hello, but hold off on any pats on the back!


Neal Headshot2
By Neal Benoit