hoof beats: the ponies in action at the Saratoga Polo
Time for All
Saratoga’s polo matches, the upper and middle classes enjoy
the fun from opposite sides of the field
long Whitney Polo Field in Saratoga Springs, one of the oldest
polo fields in the United States, separates two classes of
spectators: the general admission tailgaters and the VIP clubhouse
goers. On the general admission side, cars back right up to
tailgate parking spots along the field, pop the hatches of
their vehicles, set up their matching stadium chairs and folding
tables, and lay out all kinds of refreshments, from brownies
to pulled-pork sandwiches. They stare across the field at
the VIP side, which has a separate entrance, an air-conditioned
clubhouse, a de facto dress code, seats along the field, and
a higher admission cost. There’s no discernable class tension;
this is polo after all, and the well-behaved, well-heeled
tailgaters lounge in the beds of their brand new pickup trucks
or on the roofs of their fire-engine-red Hummer H3s, or sit
by the sidelines holding the leashes of their blond Labrador
retriever puppies. They could just as well be picnicking on
the lawn at the opera or the ballet.
itself acts as an effective partition though, keeping the
two sides separate for all but two occasions during any given
match. While play is underway and horses thundering up and
down the field, you cannot cross it without risking a stomping
from flying hooves, a walloping from a player’s windmilling
mallet, a crack in the head from a polo ball lofted high in
the air—or a possible ejection from security personnel. But
the two sides of spectators, who reach the field through separate
entrances, do come together at halftime, when both sides are
egged on to the green field to tramp down offending chunks
of brown sod, known as divots, which are kicked up during
play by the quick-turning polo ponies. And then at match’s
end, after the conclusion of six “chukkers,” or periods, the
announcer demands another round of applause for “the players
and ponies,” and the victory podium is trucked over to the
VIP side. Any still-lingering tailgaters are invited to cross
the field to watch the awarding of the trophies and catch
a closer glimpse of the sweaty polo players.
dressed tailgaters find that the view is about the same from
the other side, but there are sweet strains of jazz music
filtering from the VIP tent, and a young Saratoga Polo employee
offers up delicious looking cups of purple sangria, knowing
how to delicately sidestep anyone who clearly doesn’t belong
to the clubhouse side. The clothes are the dead giveaway:
The clubhouse women are in dresses and hats, the men in jackets
and open collared shirts or ties, both genders distinguished
from the general population by their shameless wearing of
pastel: a man in bright yellow pants and a yellow checked
shirt stands next to a woman in a dress patterned like an
elaborate Easter egg. This is the social side, where polo’s
reputation as “the sport of kings” is realized. The polo players,
dressed in tall brown boots and white jeans, with builds more
akin to baseball pitchers than to horse-racing jockeys, mingle
about, sipping champagne, signing autographs and making social
plans for later. Many are Spanish speaking and split their
polo seasons with warmer locales: Aiken, South Carolina; Florida;
and Argentina, a country that dominates the world of professional
side may lack this feeling of organized socialization, of
a group, albeit an exclusive one, coming together over a shared
recreation. But it has more to offer for the fans that enjoy
preparing their own elaborate picnic feasts and socializing
among themselves with families and pets, or watching the trailers
of polo ponies that line the tailgate side, horses waiting
to enter the match or getting washed down after a busy chukker.
But the pleasures of the game are largely the same from either
side: the swift action of the field as a team sends the ball
flying down the field on a fast break, the ground-vibrating
thundering of galloping horses, the threats of stray balls
flying over the sidebar, or the sounds of heckling yelled
Polo matches are played every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
and Sunday at 5:30 PM at Whitney Polo Field until Labor Day.
General admission is $10 per person or $20 per carload; VIP
admission is $20 per person. For more information, call (518)
SARATOGA PERFORMING ARTS CENTER (Saratoga State Park,
Saratoga Springs, tickets: 476-1000). Thu: Velvet Revolver,
Alice in Chains, Kill Hannah. Fri: NextFest
2007 with Aly & AJ, Corbin Bleu, Drake
Bell, and Bianca Ryan. Sat: Toby Keith,
Miranda Lambert, Flynnville Train. Sun: Poison,
Ratt, Vains of Jenna.
UPBEAT ON THE ROOF (Rooftop patio, Tang Teaching Museum
and Art Gallery, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, 580-8080).
All shows at 7 PM. Fri: Doc Scanlon with Colleen
9 MAPLE AVENUE (9 Maple Ave., Saratoga Springs, 583-CLUB).
Fri: Tim Olsen Quartet. Sat: Joe Barna Group.
ALLEY BAR (Long Alley Road, Saratoga Springs, 587-9766).
Tue: karaoke with Mark the Shark.
BAILEY’S (Phila and Putnam streets, Saratoga Springs,
583-6060). Thu: Rick Bolton, the Dwyer Sisters.
Fri: Ernie Williams. Sat: Pangaea. Sun: Nate.
RESTAURANT (390 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 587-6262).
Thu, Sun: Al Bruno. Fri: Standing Room Only.
Sat: the Heaters.
CAFÉ (392 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 583-1106). Thu:
open mic with Nate Solomon. Fri: DJ Tommy. Sat:
George Boone Blues Band. Wed: Jeanne O’Connor.
CLUB HOUSE (30 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 580-0686).
Fri-Sat: DJ Daniel Van D.
GROTTO NIGHTCLUB (388 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 584-CAVE).
Thu: DJ Tec Nic. Fri-Sat: DJ JB. Sun: Poison
after-party with C.C. DeVille, Nervous Wreck.
Wed: DJ Boy Boy.
INN (1 Gridley St., Saratoga Springs, 587-4909). Fri:
CONFIDENTIAL (38 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 584-0130).
Thu: Rocky Velvet. Fri: Bluz House Rockers.
Sat: Groove Syndicate.
LODGE (1 Nelson Ave., Saratoga Springs, 584-7988). Thu:
Roger Held. Fri-Sat: George Giroux. Wed: Mark
HOUSE (1 York St., Saratoga Springs, 226-0014). Thu: Joe
Gitto and Mo Rancourt. Fri: Darren Lyons Trio.
Sat: Sarah Pedinotti Band. Tue: Mouzon House Band.
Wed: Colin McCoy and Frank Orsini.
CAROLINE STREET (1 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 587-2026).
Thu: Peg Delaney Duo. Fri, Mon: Sarah Pedinotti
Band. Sat: Adrian Cohen Trio. Sun: Joe Finn.
Tue: Joe Gitto. Wed: Azzaam Hameed Duo.
RESTAURANT (Route 9P, Saratoga Lake, 584-6882). Fri: Peg
Delaney. Sat: Colleen Pratt and Peg Delaney.
CITY TAVERN (19 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 581-3230).
Mon: Vesper CD release.
(168 Lincoln Ave., Saratoga Springs, 584-4030). Thu-Wed: piano
bar with Roger Morris. Thu: Capital Soul Review.
Fri: New York Players with Jill Hughes. Sat:
the Refrigerators. Sun: Johnny Rabb and the Jailhouse
Rockers. Wed: Blue Hand Luke.
(13 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 581-1316). Tue: Mike
NIGHTCLUB (Saratoga Gaming and Raceway, 342 Jefferson
St., Saratoga Springs, 584-2110). Fri: Powerhouse.
NIGHT CLUB (30 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 580-0686).
Fri-Sat: DJ Daniel Van D.
The Mop & Bucket Company, Caffe Lena, 47 Phila Street,
Saratoga Springs. “Improv Jam,” an evening of audience-interactive,
improvised theater. 8/26, 7 PM. Adults $15, $12 students and
462 Broadway, 2nd Floor, Saratoga Springs. 584-4132, (888)
ART-1969. Come Together: The Artwork of John Lennon.
Beekman Street Fine Art Gallery, 70 Beekman St., Saratoga
Springs. 542-6688. Works by Richard Kane Ferguson.
100, 462 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 580-0818. Horse
of a Different Color, works by Audrey Romano.
on the Hudson, 92 Broad St., Schuylerville, 695-6131.
Early and recent paintings by New York City artist Tom Vincent.
Also, works by Susan Reynolds and Joyce Vincent. Ongoing.
Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame, 99 S. Broadway, Saratoga
Springs. 584-2225. On Browaday. Also, The Dawn of
Modern Dance: Music, Myth and Movement, chronicling the
lives of Ruth St. Denis and Isadora Duncan; also, works by
Frank Ohman. Also, Two Dancers, photography by Charles
Bremer and poetry by Robert Bensen. Also, The Moving Figure.
Ongoing. Also, Just Black and White, dance photography
by Clifford Oliver.
Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, 191 Union Ave., Saratoga
Springs. 584-0400. The Voss Family, Artists of American
Sporting Life; also, California Images: The Racing
Photography of William Mochon; also, the Racing Art Collection
of Charles H. Thieriot Collection.
York State Military Museum, 61 Lake Ave., Saratoga Springs.
581-5100. Worth a Thousand Muskets: Civil War Field Artillery;
also, Battleground for Freedom: New York during the Revolutionary
War; also, World War II: United for Victory; also,
Fiery Trial and Sacrifice: New York and the First World
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. Ongoing. Also, Barn
County Arts Council, Arts Center Gallery, 320 Broadway,
Saratoga Springs. 584-4132. Saratoga Inside Out.
Springs History Museum, Canfield Casino, Congress Park,
Broadway, Saratoga Springs. Along the Winding River: A
Natural and Human History of the Kayderosseras Creek.
Saratoga Visitors Center, 297 Broadway, Saratoga Springs.
587-3241. The Backstretch, Mostly, paintings by R.C.
Art Gallery, Skidmore College, 815 N. Broadway, Saratoga
Springs. 580-5049. Regis Brodie: A Retrospective.
Teaching Museum and Gallery, Skidmore College, 815 N.
Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 580-8080. West African Masquerade,
photographs by Phyllis Galembo.
National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, 191 Union
Ave., Saratoga. 8/23-24, 10 AM-noon: Steve Davidovitz
will sign The Best and Worst of Thoroughbred Racing;
Murray West will sign Dreams of Roses; and William
Galvin will sign Ballads of the Turf. 584-0400.
Saratoga Spa State Park, Route 9, Saratoga Springs. 8/30,
11 AM: Preschool Naturalists: Fish. Listen to stories, create
crafts and play games associated with the outside world. $3/$5.
584-2000 ext. 119.
Saratoga Farmers Market, High Rock Park, High Rock Avenue,
Saratoga Springs. Saturdays, 9 AM-1 PM; Wednesdays, 3-6 PM.
future’s so bright: A thoroughbred fan at the Saratoga Race
Calvin Borel celebrating on Lady Joanne after winning the
$600K Alabama Stakes, Saratoga Race Course, Aug. 19.