Section: Inside Saratoga
to beat the Saratoga system with limited resoures
in charge of this joint? What kind of sick trap is this?"
I'm shouting out my window at anyone who will listen. And,
at this point, the only one who might is a horse that's giving
me the "I'm-a-better-listener-when-I'm-chewing-a-carrot"
here on this godforsaken sand circle, unsure where to park,
unsure when to stop, all jacked-up on Mountain Dew and espresso.
The bored parking attendant handed me a ticket that said something
about parking on the Oklahoma practice track, but clearly
this was an attempt to pen me in, get me in an inescapable
circle, let my gas run down, and let my wits seep away before
the vultures swoop in to peck at my dignity and cash, the
sun's rays beating down on me just like the fuzz, certainly,
I'm drawing too much attention to myself, I assure the horse,
"I'm with the mainstream press, none of that shifty alternative
stuff they are peddling these days! I don't even know what
a blog is! I swear!"
This was supposed to be a simple assignment: Head to Saratoga
with only $25 and try my best to make money while having a
comfortable trip. I remember the guy who pitched it saying,
"Any Metrolander could do it. It'll be fun!"
that deceptive, careless brute who shackled me with this deadly
assignment!" I think as I finally bring my vehicle to
rest in front of the fence. I hop out, acting as normal as
possible. I check the trunk; normal-person shirt? Check. Wallet?
Check. Average Joe cap? Check. Water bottle? Check.
I spill the contents of my water bottle all over the front
of my black-striped shirt as I'm herded onto a bright yellow
school bus with an all-too-happy and courteous, mustached
driver. "Damnit!" I think. "I'm going to have
to try the lemonade."
I and the rest of the chattel are delivered to the gates of
my first mark, the Saratoga Race Course.
"Just one?" a smiling woman asks as I hand her my
precious $20. An officer observing the crowd turns and locks
my darting eyes in a deep stare. He seems to be looking past
me into my nervous heart. I look around behind me, under me,
above me, unsure what she might be implying, and then when
I'm satisfied it's just an innocent mistake, I nervously reply,
"Yes, just us." She laughs, and I try to make my
getaway. But the officer holds out his hand.
"This is it! It's over already," I think to myself
as I hang my head down and turn my arms to the officer, ready
to be shackled and dragged away. But instead the woman hands
me a slip for a free Saratoga shirt.
"Up on these shifty bastards already!" I think to
myself as I scurry off to claim the first of my bounty. The
proud new owner of a handsome, blue Saratoga T-shirt, I feel
triumphant, but something still isn't right. "This place
is getting to me. I think Igetting . . . thirsty."
my gains by sampling some sweet trackside lemonade for $4.50.
Then I head to the general-admission trackside area, where
I am struck by the charms of an ice-cream vendor and wooed
into spending another $4.50 on a waffle cone full of chocolate
With my lemonade and ice cream in hand, I settle in to watch
the race. "Look, Dad, a cow-horse!" some demon child
shouts from the stands. "My god! What are they teaching
these monsters?" I wonder as I quickly wipe the cream
off my face and discreetly discard my lemonade. Then I see
the brown-and-white-patched horse the kid must have been referring
to get a glimpse of the angry beasts, to see if perhaps the
one I was conversing with earlier might be in the race. But
the members of the trackside herd hop up, standing on their
seats, their posteriors in my way, and then they are off.
Grandma-hips is in the lead, shaking her rump, followed by
drunken biker with stinky cigar, barely keeping his balance,
and up comes top-heavy blonde, spilling her beer onto her
ample cleavage. I walk away not knowing whether a race has
even taken place, except for the announcer's incoherent jibber-jabber.
Three dollars plus $4.50 plus $4.50 equals $12. I'm down to
$13. It's time to play the odds.
With a crisp, new $10 bill in hand, I make my way to the betting
window with great purpose. Only one step before getting to
the teller, it hits me: I don't know how to play the odds!
I don't know how to bet on horses!
"Oh, God, what do I do? You can't let these animals know
they've outwitted you! Hmmm. What horse should I bet on?"
I muse out loud on the chance that some pure-hearted schmo
will point me in the right direction. "Oh, you haven't
bet before?" asks the woman behind me. "You should
get a tip sheet!" she says, smiling. She and her companions
offer theirs and ask, "What size bet are you starting
on all sides. The teller is glaring at me, waiting for me
to drop my $10 into her dark, black abyss. The bettors chatter
around me like prowling cats.
your paws off me, you silly track panthers!" I mutter
as I slip away from them. I duck into a line of departing
jockeys, accompanied by police officers who are too busy helping
little children get the jockeys' autographs to bother with
me. And then Ifree and headed toward a true gamblers' refuge-the
money from machines is not the science some would have you
believe. No, my friends, it is an art. It takes the right
finesse and flair to convince a machine to cough up the dough.
Under the mood lights and flashing gaming signs, I feed my
crisp Hamilton into a receptive video-poker machine. I press
"Deal," and there are two Queens staring at me;
I hold them and an Ace, discard the rest. The machine makes
a purring sound, and then tells me I have doubled my money.
I slap the "Print Ticket" button, and briskly make
my way to the teller.
"Let's keep this on the up-and-up. I'm not a sucker,"
I assure the woman behind the counter as she slides me my
brand-new Jackson. The woman next to me seems to be changing
in tickets for some exorbitant sum of money, but rather than
stick around feeling inadequate, I run from the building like
a madman, laughing all the way. Then, it's off to Broadway
to celebrate with my newfound riches.
as it came, it is gone again, as I hand my Jackson over to
a Last Vestige employee in exchange for a used, deluxe copy
of Futuristic Dragon and a bad metal CD.
over to Borders and slump down in front, utterly defeated,
wondering if I should do a little panhandling or simply wait
'til the fuzz drag me off for a free, city-sponsored stay
in lockdown. But then I realize that I have not come unprepared
for this moment. A like-minded free-thinker had handed me
tickets to Willie Nelson at SPAC earlier in the week. With
the tickets as leverage, I place a call to my attorney, and
soon we are dining at one of the city's better restaurants.
Then, later, with my stomach full and arms sunburned, I fall
asleep under a tree as Willie Nelson reminds Saratoga: "Mamas,
don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys."
BEEKMAN STREET ART DISTRICT (Beekman
Street, Saratoga Springs). Sat: Willie the Moak (3
PARK (Saratoga Springs, 587-3241). Tue: George Fletcher’s
Bourbon Renewal (7 PM).
GAZEBO AT SARATOGA RACE TRACK (Saratoga Race Track, Saratoga
Springs, 238-1331). Wed: Sonny and Perley, Tom Charlap,
REEL MEALS (86 Congress St., Saratoga Springs, 583-8883).
Sun-Thu: Sinatra—An American Icon with Val Peters.
SARATOGA GAMING AND RACEWAY (342 Jefferson St., Saratoga
Springs, 584-2110). Thu: TS Ensemble.
SARATOGA PERFORMING ARTS CENTER (Saratoga State Park,
Saratoga Springs, tickets: 476-1000). Sun: the Tom
Petty & the Heartbreakers, Allman Brothers Band.
ON THE ROOF (815 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 580-8080).
Fri: SKP and the Shaggy Rollers.
9 MAPLE AVENUE (9 Maple Ave., Saratoga Springs, 583-CLUB).
Fri: John Blood Band. Sat: Jazz Factor.
ALLEY BAR (Long Alley Road, Saratoga, 587-9766). Tue:
karaoke with Mark the Shark.
BILLIARDS (63 Putnam St., Saratoga Springs, 583-2503).
Sat: the Empire State Troopers, Buzzard and the
(Phila and Putnam streets, Saratoga Springs, 583-6060).
Thu: Jeff and Becky Walton. Fri: Pangaea. Sat:
Rich Ortiz. Sun: Nate.
RESTAURANT (390 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 587-6262).
Thu, Sun: Al Bruno. Fri: the Heaters. Tue: Richie
Ortiz. Jimmy Kelly. Fri: Mooncat.
LENA (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs, 583-0022). Thu:
open mic (7 PM). Fri: Adriondack Night with Peggy Lynn,
Dan Duggan, Dan Berggren. Sat: Danny Kalb,
Jeremy Wallace Trio. Sun: Sonny & Perley.
Wed: Tobias, Joe Nacco and the Crappuccinos.
ON THE LAKE (251 County Route 67, Saratoga Springs, 581-3928).
Thu: Sensemaya (6:30 PM).
SOPHIE (Saratoga Hotel, 534 Broadway, Saratoga Springs,
583-3538). Fri, Sun, Tue: Cole Broderick.
CAFÉ (392 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 583-1106). Sat:
karaoke with A-Man Productions.
TAVERN (43 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 584-1338).
CLUB HOUSE (30 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 580-0686).
Fri-Sat: DJ Daniel Van D, hiphop, club mixes
GROTTO NIGHTCLUB (388 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 584-CAVE).
Thu: Deadboy and the Elephant Men
MARE RISTORANTE AND OTTO LOUNGE (17 Maple Ave., Saratoga
Springs, 583-6955). Thu: Bobby Dick and the Sundownders.
Fri: Robonic Raggae Band. Sat: IMI. Sun: Pangea.
CAROLINE STREET (1 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 587-2026).
Thu: Masters of Nostalgia. Fri: Sarah Pedinotti.
Sat: Brian Patneaude Duo. Tue-Wed: Chuck D’Aloia.
PARTING GLASS (40-42 Lake Ave., Saratoga Springs, 583-1916).
Fri: Bluz House Rockers. Mon: the Back40 Band.
SPORTS BAR (Phila Street, Saratoga Springs, 583-4214).
Thu: open mic with Mike Grutka.
(168 Lincoln Ave., Saratoga Springs, 584-4030). All shows
at 6 PM. Thu: Groove Syndicate. Fri: the Big
Smoothies. Sat: the Burners UK. Sun: the Heaters.
NIGHT CLUB (30 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 580-0686).
Fri-Sat: DJ Daniel Van D, hiphop, club mixes.
Nunsensations . . . The Nunsense Vegas Revue, Saratoga
Springs City Center, 522 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 8/10-12,
8 PM; 8/12 also at 2 PM. $15. 581-9401.
Vagina Monologues, Saratoga Arts Center, 320 Broadway,
Saratoga Springs. 8/10-12, 7:30 PM. $16, $14 seniors and students.
Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Spa State Park,
Saratoga Springs. 8/10, 7:30 PM: Charles Dutoit conducts the
Philadelphia Orchestra in works by Mozart, Debussy and Ravel.
Violinist Sarah Chang will be featured on Bruch’s Violin
Concerto No. 1. 8/11, 7:30 PM: Christoph Eschenbach conducts
the PO in works by Beethoven and Pintscher. 8/12, 7:30 PM:
Charles Dutoit conducts the PO, with guest pianist Jean-Yves
Thibaudet, in works by Rossini, Liszt, Debussy and Musorgsky.
$63-$30, $18 lawn. 587-3330.
Little Theater, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga
Springs. 8/13, 2:15 PM: Pianist Dr. Richard Kogan presents
recital-lecture on Robert Schumann, titled Schumann: Music,
Mood Swings and Madness. $40, $35. 587-3330.
62 Beekman Street Bistro Gallery, 62 Beekman St., Saratoga
Springs. 683-1631. Works by Zachary Lobdell. Through 8/31.
Beekman Street Fine Art Gallery, 62 Beekman St., Saratoga
Springs. 542-6688. The Summer Show 2006—Salem Art Works. Through
100, 468 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 580-0818. Get
Your Beverages Here, a juried exhibition. Through 9/10.
at Wesley, 131 Lawrence St., Saratoga Springs. 587-3600.
Works by Barbara Riehle. Through 8/31.
Museum of Dance, 99 S. Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 584-2225.
Eleanor Rigby’s Resurrection: Images Inspired by Music’s
Icons. Through 9/6. Reception 8/11, 5:30 PM. Also,
Dancers on the Edge. Through 8/15. Also, Dance of the
Iroquois, an exhibit exploring the social traditions of
the Native Iroquois; also, Young Dancer, photographs
by Mark Sadan; also Memoirs of a Lake George Showboat Performer.
Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, 191 Union Ave., Saratoga
Springs. 584-0400. California Images: the Racing Photography
of Bill Mochon; also, Golden Memories; also, paintings
from the Charles H. Thieriot collection. Through 12/31. Springs.
587-1935 ext. 20. John Fitch: An American Racing Hero.
Through 11/14. Also, East of Detroit, and New York
Racing exhibit. Ongoing.
Cardiology, 6 Care Lane, Saratoga Springs. 587-4101. Works
by Preston Babcock. Through 8/31.
County Arts Council, Members Exhibition Hall, 320 Broadway,
Saratoga Springs. 584-4132. Works by Judy Drake. Through 8/31.
County Arts Council, Arts Center Gallery, 320 Broadway,
Saratoga Springs. 584-4132. Saratoga: Inside Out, a
juried exhibition. Through 9/3.
Hospital Medical Library, 211 Church St., Saratoga Springs.
583-8301. Works by Viviana Puello. Through 8/31.
Springs Amtrak Train Station, Station Lane, Saratoga Springs.
Works by Marianne Szuberla. Through 8/31.
Saratoga Springs Public Library, 49 Henry St., Saratoga
Springs. 584-7860. Works by Christina Sokolow. Through 8/31.
Traveler, 400 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 583-2929. Works
by Cynthia Whitman. Through 9/4.
Saratoga Visitors Center, 297 Broadway, Saratoga Springs.
587-3241. Works by Judy Rosell. Through 8/31.
College, Schick Art Gallery, 815 N. Broadway, Saratoga
Springs. 580-5049. Misleading Trails. Through 9/22.
Tang Teaching Museum and Gallery, Skidmore College, 815
N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 580-8080. Opener 11: Nina
Katchadourian: All Forms of Attraction. Through 12/30.
Also, And Therefore I Am, an exhibit that questions
the nature of human consciousness. Through 9/10.
Center of Saratoga, 6 Care Lane, Saratoga Springs. 583-6821.
Works by Pam Malsan. Through 8/31.
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.
Glens Falls/Saratoga Farmers Market, Village Park, Spring
Street, S. Glens Falls. Mondays, 11 AM-2 PM. Saratoga Race
Open daily through Sept. 4, except Tuesdays
267 Union Ave., Saratoga Springs, 584-6200.
$3 grandstand, $5 clubhouse; children under 12 free; seats
are $6 and $7, respectively
$10 per car at the trackside and $5 across the street at the
Oklahoma Training Track. General parking is free.
Nine or 10 races a day; pari-mutuel wagering on every race.
Race Post Time is at 1 PM (except Travers Day, Aug. 26,
when it’s at 12:30 PM).
Stakes Races The Sword Dancer Invitational (Aug. 12);
the Alabama Stakes (Aug. 19); the Travers Stakes (Aug. 26);
the Woodward (Sept. 2).