Ever get the feeling you are in exactly the right place? That's what it feels like to be in Saratoga Springs, New York during Travers Week. And, as usual, Sarah K. Andrew, a.k.a. Rock and Racehorses, says it all with one little press of her finger on her camera's shutter. And yes, even the dirty horses are beautiful in Saratoga.
I could have used Sarah the other day. Or even my own camera. I turned off the Northway onto Union Avenue to head into town, running late as usual. The beauty of the entrance to the racetrack was a blur.
Then I saw it. Bombing up Union Avenue in the other direction was a shiny new BMW convertible with the top down. Every available inch of front and back seat was stuffed with about five bales of prickly, sticky straw.
The soft glove leather interior of that megabucks-costing car was getting a permanent pock-marking.
The woman at the wheel had her head thrown back, she was laughing at the racetrack in her rearview mirror. It was a beautiful summer's night in Saratoga and she had all the straw some horses somewhere needed.
You can be part of Saratoga this weekend. Find a television that will show the broadcast of the Midsummer Derby, the Grade 1 Travers Stakes for three-year-olds on Saturday. Let's hope they show a replay of the town's favorite underdog overachiever, Lisa's Booby Trap, who is running in a stakes race for fillies on the undercard. Assuming she wins, of course.
And on Sunday, 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra runs in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign. It's a small field...she's a front runner...she's been training at Saratoga all summer...but for the first time in her life she'll be asked to run the classic distance of a mile and a quarter. And breathing down her neck coming for home will likely be the Pletcher-trained Life at Ten, winner of her last six races and a successful veteran of the classic distance.
Saratoga loves Rachel Alexandra and she certainly didn't disappoint anyone last summer when she beat older male horses in the Woodward Stakes on the same track over Labor Day Weekend. That was a challenge, too.
Thanks to our favorite photographer Sarah K. Andrew for this beautiful photo from one of her recent sunny mornings at Saratoga. That's one sudsy horse, but yes, at Saratoga something as common as a sudsy horse becomes a thing of beauty. Everything sparkles, everyone's on the verge of dancing. It's the tipping point of summer and it doesn't get any better than this. Rachel Alexandra knows that too.