Best Game in Town
early anticipation of next August’s race season, our crack
Saratoga experts propose an exciting new pastime
By Metroland’s Saratoga Bureau
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.
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.
Alley Bar (Long Alley Road, Saratoga, 587-9766). Sun:
karaoke with Wayne from King Entertainment.
Tue: karaoke with Mark the Shark.
(Phila and Putnam streets, Saratoga Springs, 583-6060).
Thu: Pete and George. Fri: Mullaney/Torey Trio.
Sat: True Tones. Sun: Jeff and Becky Walton.
Restaurant (390 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 587-6262).
Fri: the Accents.
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.
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.
Club House (30 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 580-0686).
Fri-Sat: DJ Daniel Van D, hiphop, club mixes.
O’Dwyer’s (15 Spring St., Saratoga Springs, 583-6476).
Fri: North Allen.
Inn At Saratoga (231 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 583-1890).
Sat: Ria Curley Jazz Group.
Maple Avenue (9 Maple Ave., Saratoga Springs, 583-CLUB).
Fri: Mark Capon Quartet. Sat: Joe Barna Quartet.
Saratoga Brew Pub (14 Phila St., Saratoga Springs, 583-3209).
Fri: English Garden.
Springs Brew Pub (14 Phila St., Saratoga Springs, 583-3209).
Thu: Kevin Mullaney and Electric Life.
(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.
(30 1/2 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 584-9618). Mon:
Tom Evans Blues Band.
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.
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,
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.
County Arts Council Arts Center, 320 Broadway, Saratoga
Springs. Imagination Rules, a half-day program for children
ages 5-7. 584-4132.
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).
By Martin Benjamin
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,