Part two of our New York trip update will revolve entirely on the third main objective of our trip: horse racing (if you missed yesterday’s post, I blogged about the first two: food and family). Since my husband was a child, he has spent days upon days researching jockeys, horses, and owners. It was through small bets growing up, that he says he actually learned how to do math. I don’t doubt that his ability to analyze odds didn’t attribute to him eventually earning a degree in computer science. Oddly enough, until I met my husband, the sport of horse racing was just an annoying sporting event that replaced shows that I wanted to watch on random Saturday afternoons.
It didn’t take much for me to be convinced that I was missing out. I went to my first race at Saratoga during the summer of 2010 (see picture above). It was the first time that I actually visited my husband’s home. At the time, the track was only open during a few weeks in August (which is ultimately why we make plans to visit during track season). Since then, the track has added some additional days to the schedule in July. Even on a dreary day, the excitement and anticipation of every race is incredible. Not to mention the people watching.
It was around the time that I started going to races that my sister-in-law Lindsay also started becoming a fan. Having her in town to go to some of the races while we were there made it a completely different experience. The girl has style, and she wins!
My first day at the track, myself, my husband, my father-in-law, and sister-in-law got to spend a beautiful afternoon betting horses, having drinks, and people/horse watching. Over the years, I have started to figure out how to “handicap”, but let’s just say I have more fun checking out what horses look good in the paddock and who has the best name. If I miss betting on a race, no big deal. Overall, the first day most of us came out as winners (I won’t name the loser)!
Days at the track can be long, as well as the drive home. We stopped for dinner at a unique pub in Ballston Spa called The Factory. Everyone was hungry, so we ordered the smothered nachos appetizer. I had to take a picture and share because it really hit the spot after a long day.
My second day at the track involved less betting and more tourist activities. After leaving my daughter the entire first day, we figured that we should probably take her with us the next visit. With that said, we also wanted to go at a time that was less crowded, so that we could take pictures of her first visit. The facility offers a trackside breakfast during morning workouts for the horses.
Instead of getting the fancy sit down breakfast, we grabbed Dunkin Donuts (also open in the facility) and took a seat in the boxes by the finish. Not only did we have a great view of all of the activity, but we also snuck around into some of the restricted areas during race time. Check out these views.
My daughter was smitten by the horses. The beautiful weather gave us the perfect opportunity to take several great family photos. The photos didn’t stop at the track. From there, we walked to Congress Park and took my daughter on her first Carousel Ride (we also took a family selfie). What a trooper she was.
At this point, my daughter, my husband, and I split from the rest of the group to head back to the track. Would you believe that she was still tolerant of us? We took her into the track just in time for her to check out the paddock and horses up close. We even bet on a horse for her (based on the excitement she gave us when they walked by). She ultimately was a loser, but she did witness her first race!
Although my husband made it to the track several other days, I only went back one more day. Between the drive up and back and the time it takes to run all of the races, a day at the track, is a long day. If you are there with someone who knows anything about handicapping, buying a full size program is worth the money.
It is also worth taking time to walk over to the paddock. There is nothing like a close up look at both the horse and jockey. You also get to check out the owners that congregate in the middle. Over time, I have learned that there are two important things to observe when watching a horse in the paddock. One, is the horse “washy”.? Look it up. TMI. Two, is the horse “on its toes”? Think prancing (like the way I run). Spending quality time at the track with my husband (and now my daughter) is very special. Not only do we get to enjoy exciting entertainment, but there is enough time between races to really enjoy each others company without using technology. Pull up a chair, grab a cold drink and some snacks, and you are all set for a day at one of the most beautiful tracks in the world.