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The Saratoga Experience
By John Rodat

Not an actual day at the track, but a reasonable—and affordable—facsimile thereof

Saratoga is the August place to be, they used to say—back before some genius noticed that gambling addiction works in July, too. But even without the compulsive drive to burn through your discretionary income or your kids’ college funds, whiling away a hot August day at the track can be a hoot. Thing is, even if you’re a cowardly gambler, as I am, you’ve got to scrounge up some change for a worthwhile day in the Spa City. Change I don’t really have.

But I wasn’t going to let that stop me, not this year. I was going to have a day at the track. After all, I deserve it. And I’m a resourceful guy, there had to be some way to make it happen.

This helped:

Ah, nothing says summer like beer with the word “summer” written on it.

Provisions secured, I loaded up the car and hit the Northway. Traffic was a bitch.

But I was so happy to be underway, that it didn’t faze me in the slightest.

I parked on some guy’s lawn, which I’m told is the thing to do—though, honestly, it took forever to slalom around the lawn jockey, those wooden cut-outs of bent-over gardening ladies, the lawn mower, and the wading pool of kids (I mean, that’s not safe). It was like they didn’t even want me to park there.

It was a short walk to the table, er, the track, and I was feeling lucky. I picked up a tip sheet and waited for inspiration. In the first few races, I bet cautiously: It’s the way I roll, first of all, plus nothing really struck me. I was up a little, down a little. I was having a good time, but still waiting for the electric moment when I felt I’d really picked a winner. Still, though, a couple of hot dogs, a few more bottles of summer—things were going fine. Then, in the final race, the line-up stopped me cold: On the field would be Expecting Brainchild, Jar of Cardinals (the favorite), Gleemer, Cool Off Kid Kilowatt and Sot. I felt, I felt . . . something. What was it? A hunch, a flash of intuition. I’m putting it all on Gleemer—the 20-1 longshot. I just felt it.

Jar of Cardinals came out of the gate like a rocket, maintaining a strong lead over Expecting Brainchild and Sot. It was a three-horse race, with Jar of Cardinals looking to fulfill his promise.

It looked bad for Gleemer. Really bad. I had to double check to see if he had actually left the gate at all. Meanwhile, Jar of Cardinals extended his lead. Crap.

Just when I had given up hope, though, there was a sudden darkness and rumbling in the sky. A ferocious downpour came out of nowhere, leaving the track a rutted mucky mess.

It was a long shot’s dream come true. Now, it was anybody’s race. And, look, there’s Gleemer taking the lead! C’mon, Gleemer! Run, run, Gleemer, you magnificent bastard!

The crowd went wild.

I was thrilled, elated, out of my head with anticipation, and track-induced glee. So much so, I didn’t even care, much, when I noticed that this guy was swiping beer out of my box.

You know, you can dress some folks up . . .

Anyway, sure enough, it was Gleemer at the wire—and at 20-1. Boy, there’s nothing like that feeling. I just felt a current going right through me. I was so jazzed I knew there was no going home. With my winnings, I was going to treat myself to a night out on the town, and I was going to pull out all the stops. This was free money, after all. I wanted something classy, something Saratoga, preferably something al fresco.

I may have overdone it a bit, truth be told. But it was all in good fun and even after the fine-dining splurge, I somehow managed to break even. Saratoga really is the naptime—uh, the summer place to be.



SARATOGA PERFORMING ARTS CENTER (Saratoga State Park, Saratoga Springs, tickets: 476-1000). Sun: Brian Wilson.


BAILEY’S (Phila and Putnam streets, Saratoga Springs, 583-6060). Thu: Juan + Corbin. Fri: Acoustic Circus. Sat: Pangaea. Sun: Chuck Kelsey.

BETTER THAN TOAST (454 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, Sun: Diane Cluck.

BRINDISI’S RESTAURANT (390 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 587-6262). Sat: the Heaters.

CAFFE LENA (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs, 583-0022). Thu: open mic . Fri: Racquette River Rounders. Sun: Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion. Sun: Sonny and Perley.

CIRCUS CAFÉ (392 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 583-1106). Sat: karaoke with A-Man Productions.

THE CLUB HOUSE (30 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 580-0686). Fri-Sat: DJ Daniel Van D, hiphop, club mixes.

E. O’DWYER’S (15 Spring St., Saratoga Springs, 583-6476). Fri: Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad.

GAFFNEY’S (16 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 587-7359). Thu: Garland Nelson and Soul Session. Fri: Tim Wechgelaer and Sherri Nolan. Sat: Acoustic Circus. Sun: Erin Harkes.

HORSESHOE INN (1 Gridley St., Saratoga Springs, 587-4909). Thu: Jill Hughes Band. Fri: Burners UK. Sat: Big Smoothies. Sun: Tom Healey Band. Mon: Jeff Walton. Wed: Soul Provider.

THE INN AT SARATOGA (231 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 583-1890). Sat: Ria Curley Jazz Quartet.

KING’S TAVERN (241 Union St., Saratoga Springs, 584-9643). Fri: the Vicaros, the Wasted, Mike Hotter. Sat: North Allen. Wed: New Thrill Parade.

9 MAPLE AVENUE (9 Maple Ave., Saratoga Springs, 583-CLUB). Fri: Jazz Works. Sat: Sensemaya.

O’CALLAGHAN’S (14 Phila St., Saratoga Springs, 583-3209). Sat: Mudfunk.

ONE CAROLINE STREET (1 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 587-2026). Thu: Mike Dimin; Saratoga High School Jazz Ensemble. Fri: Joe Finn; Brian Patnaude Trio Sat: Joe Gitto; Azzaam Hameed Duo. Sun: Chuck D’Aloia. Mon: John Nazarenko. Tue: Masters of Nostalgia. Wed: Peg Delaney.

THE PARTING GLASS (40-42 Lake Ave., Saratoga Springs, 583-1916). Thu: Goin’ Nowhere, Vesper. Fri: Good for the Soul. Sat: Allan Payette Band.

PRIME HOTEL (534 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 584-4000). Fri: High Definition.

REEL MEALS CABARET (86 Congress St., Saratoga Springs, 583-8833). Fri: the Decadent Royals, Erin Harkes.

SARATOGA CITY TAVERN (Caroline Street and Maple Avenue, Saratoga Springs, 581-3230). Thu: Rick Bolton. Fri-Sat: DJ Chris. Tue: Dark Day Blues, George Fletcher’s Bourbon Renewal. Wed: happy hour with Jeff Halstead.

SIRO’S (168 Lincoln Ave., Saratoga Springs, 584-4030). All shows at 5:30 PM. Thu, Sat: Barrence Whitfield and the Savages. Fri: New York Players. Sun: Johnny Rabb and the Jailhouse Rockers. Mon: the Heaters. Wed: Good For the Soul.


Life is a Musical, Arts Center Theatre, 320 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. Semi-autobiographical one-man production about “the life and mind of a musical playwright.” Through 8/31. $15, $12. 584-4132.


New York City Ballet Workout, Total Body Trifecta Studio, 61 Lawrence St., Saratoga Springs. Mon, 6:15-7:15 PM; Wed, 5:15-6:15 PM. With Mary Ann Fantauzzi. 581-8025.

Tropical Swing, Maui Wowi Surf Shack, 441 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. Wed, 9 PM. 580-1433.


Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga Springs. 8/11, 8:15 PM: Philadelphia Orchestra will present their Tchaikovsky Spectacular, with pianist Alexander Melnikov and cellist Daniel Müller-Schott. 8/12, 8:15 PM: Philadelphia Orchestra will perform Mahler’s Symphony No. 5, and, with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Grieg’s Piano Concerto. 8/13, 8:15 PM: Pianist André Watts will join the Philadelphia Orchestra for Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Also, Ravel’s Bolero and works by Strauss and Franck. 8/17, 8:15 PM: Philadelphia Orchestra will present Van Cliburn, An American Legend. Works by Sibelius, Rachmaninoff and Beethoven. $60-$15. 587-3330.

Spa Little Theater, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs. 8/14, 2:15 PM: Saratoga Chamber Music Festival presents the premiere of Ranjbaran’s Piano Quintet, and works by Mozart, Poulenc and Brahms. 8/16, 8:15 PM: Martha Argerich Presents, an program featuring the legendary pianist and guests performing works by Bartók, Shostakovich, Franck and Kreisler. $34.50-$29.50. 587-3330.

St. Clement’s Church, 231 Lake Ave., Saratoga Springs. 8/14, 7 PM: Saratoga Choral Festival annual concert. $15, $10 students. 791-0185.


Arts Center Gallery, 320 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 584-4132. Saratoga Inside Out.

Circus Café, 392 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 583-1106. Works by Pierre Bellocq.

Congress Park, Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 584-4132. Also, Public Art Works, featuring works by Lee Nicholls, Bill McTygue, and Michael L. Noonan.

Craven Books, 441 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 583-0025. Horses on Broadway, paintings by Sharon Crute.

Gallery 100, 445 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 580-0818. Photographs by Phillip V. Caruso.

Gotchya’s Trading Co., 68 Beekman St., Saratoga Springs. 584-5772. Truth Be Told, paintings by Chris Murray.

National Museum of Dance, 99 S. Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 584-2225. Dancing Rebels, an exhibit highlighting the work of the New Dance Group.

National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, 191 Union Ave., Saratoga Springs. 584-0400. Peb: The Art of Humor, featuring cartoons and caricatures by Pierre Bellocq, celebrating horses and racing personalities. Also, 11th Annual Horsing Around with the Arts student art show. Also, Golden Memories: Fifty Years of the Racing Hall of Fame; also, paintings from the Charles H. Thierot Collection.

New York State Military Museum, 61 Lake Ave., Saratoga Springs. 581-5100. New York’s Fighting Zouaves. Also, Battleground for Freedom: New York during the Revolutionary War. Also, To the Standard: Civil War Cavalry Flags from the NYS Battle Flag Collection.

Saratoga Automobile Museum, 110 Avenue of the Pines, Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga Springs. 587-1935 ext. 20. East of Detroit, and New York Racing exhibit.

Saratoga County Arts Council, Member Exhibition Hall, 320 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 584-4132. Works by Paul Arnold.

Saratoga Springs Public Library, 49 Henry St., Saratoga Springs. 584-7860. Works by Monique Lemaire.

Saratoga Visitors Center, 297 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 587-3241. Works by Robert Ewell.

Skidmore College, Schick Art Gallery, 815 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 580-5049. Anything But Realism, group exhibition.

Spring Street Gallery, 110 Spring St., Saratoga Springs. 587-6433. Pathways, paintings by Joanne K. Murphy.

Tang Teaching Museum and Gallery, Skidmore College, 815 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 580-8080. Weapons of Mass Dissemination: The Propaganda of War. Also, Opener 9: Michael Oatman.


Malta/Saratoga Farmers Market, Dave Meager Community Center, Route 9, Malta. Tuesdays, 11 AM-2 PM.

Saratoga Farmers Market, High Rock Park, High Rock Avenue, Saratoga Springs. Saturdays, 9 AM-1 PM; Wednesdays, 3-6 PM.


Saratoga Mountain Bike Association. Informal rides Tuesdays 6 PM, Sundays 10 AM. 788-0847,

Saratoga Polo Association, Bloomfield and Denton roads, Saratoga Springs. Matches every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday through 9/4, weather permitting. Gates open 4 PM, start time 5:30 PM. Post-game dinners 7:10 PM. $8 per person or $20 per carload. Under 16 free. Season passes available. 584-8108,



Saratoga SHOTS

In the paddock area before the Whitney Handicap.




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