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Barbara Lombardo of Saratoga Springs, NY, is a journalism adjunct at University at Albany and retired executive editor of The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News. Follow her on Twitter @Barb_Lombardo.

Friday, August 28, 2015

American Pharoah: Watching history stroll around Saratoga Race Course

American Pharoah rounds Saratoga Race Course
shortly before 9 a.m. the day before the Travers Stakes,
in which the Triple Crown winner will be running. 
If you bring him, they will come. And did they ever. Well before 9 a.m., Saratoga Race Course was filled to the gills with people who didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.
As the crowd waited, the New York Racing Association replayed American Pharoah’s wins in the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont. Then out came the star, strolling around the track in preparation for tomorrow’s Travers Stakes.
My husband and I were on line with hundreds of others as the gates opened at 7 a.m. We had arranged to meet Joe and Kathy Condon for our annual breakfast buffet at the track before AP’s appearance was announced. We never saw the grounds fill up so fast and with so many people this early.
As AP time grew closer, people staked out their spots at the rail and in the seats. It looked like the busiest day of racing, with no races going on. Why not, for this chance to see a historic horse? Thirty-seven years ago, a year into my career in Saratoga, was the last time a horse won the Triple Crown. Add another 30-plus years to last time a horse did that and won the Travers, too.
So now I can say I’ve seen American Pharoah up close (and that the eggs benedict with salmon was very good). I must confess I wouldn’t recognize him if he galloped past me in the cereal aisle at Price Chopper (er, Market 32) without his blanket. But I’m glad I was at the track this morning, to see the horse and all the excitement he’s generated.

Hats off to Todd Shimkus, the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce president, who revved up the bandwagon to bring AP here. Glad NYRA upped the ante. And happy that AP’s owners decided to bring the horse across the country to run in the nation’s oldest racetrack. Looking forward to another historic day on Saturday. 


Blogger James Hamilton said...

Good for you Barb, wish I had the time to participate in such lavish activities! Are you going to watch him race? I don't follow the ponies that closely but you're right... this is a perhaps once in a lifetime event for many. Would have been a great time to be up there. Hope you're doing well in "semi-retirement".
Jim Hamilton

August 28, 2015 at 9:13 PM 

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