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The Best Game in Town
In early anticipation of next August’s race season, our crack team of Saratoga experts propose an exciting new pastime

By Metroland’s Saratoga Bureau

All current meteorological evidence to the contrary, summer must come to an end. We’re fast approaching the leaf-peeping season, and soon enough the area will be inundated with Sunday-driving slowpokes all agog at the leafy light show. Sweat-slick and surly as you are, you may find this difficult to believe, but the telltale signs are falling into place: The college kids are back, hogging up your parking spaces and transforming formerly quiet, favorite watering holes into cacophonous petri dishes of sexual confusion and urban slang; your own younger children are being sent back to their daytime custodial institutions (just in time to prevent a longer-term institutionalization for mom and pop); and the Saratoga Racetrack is preparing to end its summer season, thereby freeing up the casual gambler’s cash for the rest of the year for stuff like groceries and insulin.

Now, the dedicated hardcore gamblers will be just fine: There’s always something to bet on—J. Lo’s marriage, say, or the preservation plans for downtown’s Wellington Hotel (lots of folks took a beating on that one). And the billion-

aire set will hold up alright, because . . . well, specifically, because of complicated synergy between the NASDAQ, trickle-down economics and the Rent-a-Center corporation—but basically because they’re billionaires. But for the rest of us, the workaday slobs for whom a trip up the Northway can provide a much-appreciated sliver of glitz and glamour, the close of the season can be a little sad.

So, as both nostalgic sendoff to this season and a hopeful (with any luck) look forward to the next, the members of Metroland’s Saratoga Bureau have rifled the files, racked their brains, consumed several small buckets of Pineapple-tinis in tribute, and devised a pastime sure to become a staple of upcoming Saratoga Augusts: Spa City Bingo.

The game is simple: Gather some friends, clip the accompanying card (one per player if you’re truly competitive, or per team if you like to roam in packs), head to Saratoga and keep your eyes peeled. First player, or team, to check off every box on the card wins. Wins what? Well, that’s up to you. High rollers could stake the winning team a night at the Adelphi, complete with breakfast; hipsters might offer to pick up the winner’s tab at Desperate Annie’s, inclusive of all the winner’s selections on the jukebox; cheap bastards might wait ’til midway through the season and hold out as incentive last Sunday’s totebag, T-shirt, umbrella or other such Racetrack swag. Feel free to modify the rules in accordance with your situation—play over the course of August, or focus a game into a frantic daylong sprint, for example. If you want to increase the degree of difficulty, you could establish a set order in which the sights must be obtained—or you could play in February, when these sights are going to be fewer and farther between.

Horses and/or horse iconography/are a given. Pretty much year-round, you’ll be able to fill those “gimme” boxes on your card. (So even your less-observant or drop-down pissed friends will have a minor sense of participation and accomplishment at game’s end). And the brazenly cigar-smoking dufus is prevalent—almost ubiquitous—in modern nightlife, smoking ban or no. Those shouldn’t be too tough. The lawn jockeys tend to be pretty stationary (though you can treat that panel as merely representative during track season, if you like, and force players to capture the real deal—metaphorically, of course. They are awfully cute, true, but that doesn’t mean you get to take ’em home like Beanie Babies, OK? Just make an “X” on the card.)

Celebrities will be harder to acquire, though not necessarily limited to the balmier weather. Rumor has it that David Cassidy’s got a place in Saratoga; he may woodshed away his winters from time to time. Members of the cast of The Sopranos, on the other hand, who have made appearances over the last couple of weeks, don’t strike us even remotely as cross-country skiing types.

And the funny hats—the really funny hats, the parade-float hats—that’s summer all over. And the savvy and opportunistic room/apartment for rent signs posted by year-round residents salivating at the prospect of pocketing a spare leisure-class $5k—August, again. The guy who plays what seems to be the same song on the banjo over and over on Broadway may hone his chops in the chillier air, but chances are you’ll have better luck with all the buskers when the town is truly bustling. The drum circle kids are a little heartier, in general, but given the fact that at least one member of a drum circle is required by some secret code of djembe ethics to be barefoot at all times, think summer. Same goes with the condescending hippies, whose self-esteem is inextricably linked to the running of the ponies, as one of Metroland’s Saratoga research assistants pointed out: “They think they’re better than you based only on the fact they don’t go to the track.”

Fortunately, that type of mean-spirited judgment represents only a minority’s reaction to the draw of the August Place to Be. But given the centrality of the racetrack to Saratoga’s personality, it’s inevitable that there might be some backlash, some negativity—well, to each his own. With the addition of Spa City Bingo to the town’s repertoire of entertainments, perhaps, attention will be called to the richness and variation of Saratogian summer life, the great, human pageant that is Saratoga Springs in August.

Or, maybe it’ll be perverted into a killer drinking game by smart-alecky Skidmore students—which would be OK, too.

Saratoga CALENDAR

Concerts

Sept. 2-8

Saratoga County Arts Council (320 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 584-4132). Sun: Marlene VerPlanck and Jazz Trio.

Saratoga Performing Arts Center (Saratoga Springs, tickets: 476-1000). Fri: Journey.

Clubs

Sept. 2-8

The Alley Bar (Long Alley Road, Saratoga, 587-9766). Sun: karaoke with Wayne from King Entertainment. Tue: karaoke with Mark the Shark.

Bailey’s (Phila and Putnam streets, Saratoga Springs, 583-6060). Thu: Pete and George. Fri: Mullaney/Torey Trio. Sat: True Tones. Sun: Jeff and Becky Walton.

Brindisi’s Restaurant (390 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 587-6262). Fri: the Accents.

Caffe Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs, 583-0022). Thu: open mic (7 PM). Fri: Paul Geremia. Sat: Barebones and Wildflowers. Wed: Albany Free School Benefit with Hamell on Trial.

Club Caroline (13 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 580-0155). Thu: Thirteen Four. Fri: karaoke with DJ Chris. Sat: Good for the Soul. Sun: karaoke with DJ Chris. Tue: karaoke with DJ Chris. Wed: DJ.

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: North Allen.

The Inn At Saratoga (231 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 583-1890). Sat: Ria Curley Jazz Group.

9 Maple Avenue (9 Maple Ave., Saratoga Springs, 583-CLUB). Fri: Mark Capon Quartet. Sat: Joe Barna Quartet.

Original Saratoga Brew Pub (14 Phila St., Saratoga Springs, 583-3209). Fri: English Garden.

Saratoga Springs Brew Pub (14 Phila St., Saratoga Springs, 583-3209). Thu: Kevin Mullaney and Electric Life.

Siro’s (168 Lincoln Ave., Saratoga Springs, 584-4030). All shows at 6 PM. Fri: Bluz House Rockers. Sat: Electric City Horns. Sun: Ali Jean and the Struts.

Sperry’s (30 1/2 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 584-9618). Mon: Tom Evans Blues Band.

Museums & Galleries

Opening

Beekman Street Artists’ Co-Op, 79 Beekman St., Saratoga. 366-6706. Unglued, mixed media works by Martha Starke, Christa Ellis, Leah McCloskey, Linda Van Alstyne, Kathy Spain, and Amejo Amyot. 9/2-26.

Gallery 100, 445 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 580-0818. Works on Paper, featuring works by Willie Marlowe, Deborah Morris, Peter Stake, and Wendy Ide Williams. 9/2-10/3. Reception 9/3, 6-8 PM.

Tang Teaching Museum and Gallery, Skidmore College, 815 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 580-8080. Paradise and Plumage: Chinese Connections in Tibetan Arhat Painting. Exhibition featuring 14th-18th century paintings and objects from China and Tibet. 9/5-1/2/2005.

Kids

This Week

Saratoga County Arts Council Arts Center, 320 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. Imagination Rules, a half-day program for children ages 5-7. 584-4132.

Saratoga Race Course

Open daily through Sept. 6, except Tuesdays.

Location 267 Union Ave., Saratoga Springs, 584-6200.

Admission $3 grandstand, $5 clubhouse; children under 12 free; seats are $6 and $7, respectively.

Parking $10 per car at the track side and $5 across Union Avenue at the Oklahoma Training Track. General parking is free.

Racing Nine or 10 races a day; pari-mutuel wagering on every race.

First Race Post Time 1 PM (except Travers Day, Aug. 28, when it’s 12:30 PM).


Saratoga SHOTS
By Martin Benjamin

Birdstone, the eventual winner of last Saturday’s $1,000,000 Travers Stakes, goofing off two days before his big race after an early morning jog, during a bath. Though not the betting favorite, despite running as a New York-bred horse before the local crowd and being the only horse to ever beat Smarty Jones, Birdstone prevailed in a thunderstorm under jockey Edgar Prado. Betting favorite Lionheart, who suffered a career-ending broken foot during the race, and other contenders proved to be no match for the Mary Lou Whitney Stable-owned and Nick Zito-trained 3-year old. Birdstone earned his owner, trainer and jockey $600,000 for his little over 2 minutes of running [2:02.45, official time].


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