Day 3 – Friday at the Track

Our second full day at Saratoga usually begins with another bicycle ride to the track for the morning workouts and then returning to Circular Manor for one of their beautiful breakfasts. At the large dining room table, we join three other couples from New Jersey whom we first met here in 2015 and who, like us have been coming up to Saratoga for the opening weekend ever since. This is another of the things we love about Circular Manor: meeting new people who quickly become friends and who return year after year.

Our hosts, Dieter and Michele, work as a team at breakfast, with Michele pouring juice and letting us know what magic Dieter will be performing in the kitchen. The choices usually include a freshly baked quiche, an omelet or scrambled eggs, and a third special creation. Dieter makes a marvelous frittata with scallions, cheese and herbs. His fluffy pancakes are some of the best we’ve ever had. Even though we will stay for a full week, we manage to have a different delightful dish every morning.

We enjoy catching up with our Jersey friends and having wide ranging conversations about their children, life on the Jersey shore, and how we did at the races yesterday. How did we do? Well, we had winners on the first three races. John got a $7.70 winner in the opening race with Grit and Glory for trainer Linda Rice, who won two races on Thursday. The winning jockey, Luis Cardenas, was an apprentice riding in his first race at Saratoga and won. He was so excited. Saratoga is the most prestigious meet in the United States, so winning the first race of the year is a big deal for any jockey. For Cardenas it was the equivalent of a rookie baseball player hitting a home run in Yankee Stadium in his first at bat.

In the second race, Barbara’s horse, Eternal Summer, was named the winner after the horse that crossed the finish line first, Price Talk, disqualified (“DQ-ed” in track parlance) for seriously bumping against other horses in the stretch. She won $12. In the third race, John’s pick., Palace Avenger, won and paid $6.30. For the remaining seven races, we hit a dry stretch. John’s picks in the fourth and fifth races all came in second. In the sixth race, his choice was third. Then we started betting on long shots and lost. John had 2 of 3 horses in a 50-cent trifecta in Race 8. For the featured race of the day, the Peter Pan Stakes, I had intended to bet on the winner of race 9, Country Grammer, but changed my mind at the last minute and picked a longer shot who came in 7th. It’s hard to make money at Saratoga betting against trainer Chad Brown. We ended $3.50 ahead for the day, which isn’t bad for us.

After breakfast we will set on the porch at Circular Manor for a bit looking over the past performances for horses set to run today. Then we shower and dress for another day at the track.

For lunch, we will likely stop at the Lobster Hut, one of the many food vendors scattered throughout the grounds of the race track. They make a lobster roll that is delicious. Between races we roam through the backyard, looking at the other vendors, who sell everything from horse-themed jewelry and T-shirts to paintings and posters. I will give more details about the diverse delights of the Saratoga backyard in tomorrow’s post.

After the races, we walk back to Circular Manor, relax with scotch and cashews on the porch, and begin looking at the horses slated to run on Saturday. Then it’s off to another delicious dinner in Saratoga’s downtown. Tonight we will go to the Blue Hen, in the recently restored Adelphi Hotel, the last remaining iron-front hotel from Saratoga’s time as one of America’s summer resorts. After dinner we will again stroll up and down Broadway, where many of the shops stay open late on weekends during the racing season. We may finish at Kilwin’s and sit at a sidewalk table enjoying the sea-salt caramel ice cream and the people watching.

Here’s a video highlighting our day with the soundtrack “Stewball (Was a Race Horse)” by The Hollies.