With track season fast approaching, I’ve been feeling super nostalgic lately. I routinely have flashbacks to an easier time and strategize how to best impart this same nostalgia onto my son. It’s not a common thing – growing up in a thoroughbred town – and like so many other memories specific to ‘growing up Saratoga’ (much of which will be covered in this blog or our sister blog it has become part of my DNA. Because my family shared a box that had been passed down from my Grandfather, every trip was infused with not only Saratoga tradition, but family tradition.
As a small child, going to the races was a family thing. My parents would dress us up and embark on a day of what seemed like endless waiting-between-races; with the warmth of the sun, whirr of the clubhouse fans, and contagious enthusiasm from racing fanatics setting us all into a tizzy. My Dad knew all the best places to park without too much walking for a gaggle of young kids. He also taught us the fine art of picking a horse despite our inpatient and exaggerated sighs while reviewing their stats. As I matured, I came to appreciate this art after repeatedly losing bets based on superstition (go lucky # 11!) or because the jockey wore my favorite color. And, like any young girl, my predilection for certain things was inherited. I was a fan of Pat Day and preferred a trifecta box bet to the standard win, place or show.
When I was a little older, I worked as a runner in one of the clubhouse restaurants. As my perception changed, so did my appreciation for the energy of the town and the racetrack. Like a film set or concert, the preparation involved was hectic and infused with dizzying anticipation …. and then, as the racing day came to a close, everyone deftly transitioned to the downtown scene only to start the whole thing over again the next morning. But, that’s a piece for another day.