(Find details on our Saratoga Selection Service at end of this article and also here.)
The name conjures up so many pleasant memories. Of course I first think of handicapping the races, which I have always enjoyed over the years. But I also think back to the wonderful times Mary and I, (and in later years our daughter), attended the races and visited the surrounding area. We went twice before our daughter was born and then twice more with our daughter. We had a grand time on each of those trips, making each one part work and part vacation.
First, there is the Saratoga Race Course experience. Just awesome! From visiting the morning training tracks - to watching the post parade up close - to hearing the thunder of the horses as they race by us railbirds - to enjoying the beautiful grounds - are all incredibly exciting components of being at Saratoga on a picture perfect summer day! And we were fortunate to have many of those over the times we've stayed there.
Second, there is the tourist experience. There is so much to explore and do, including the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame - a must see! Saratoga, a beautiful and historic town, is so wonderful in which to walk around and to poke into the used & rare book shops with their many interesting finds. There is the beautiful Saratoga Spa State Park as well as the peaceful Yaddo Gardens - both such memorable places. The first time we went, we stayed up in Lake George which was quite pretty. The next few times we stayed about 20 minutes from the track at a motel which had a water/amusement park next door, just perfect for when our daughter was with us.
In fact, our third trip to Saratoga was engineered by our then 8 year old daughter, who pushed for it. We did our best to interest her in more “kid friendly” vacations, but she was steadfast and determined as she repeatedly announced, "I want to see a horse race.”
Since we had been there a couple of times prior, we knew that the nearby Queensbury and Lake George area offered mini-golf, go karts, an amusement park complete with a water park and a drive-in movie theatre would offer ample distraction for us should she find out she didn’t really care for the racetrack.
However, she absolutely loved the trip and the horse racing! We went to the meet all the days it was open plus we did swimming, went to the amusement/water park, went on the go karts, walked around town and went in the book shops and simply had fun just being together.
Our daughter loved the picnic atmosphere at Saratoga and was in awe as the horses walked by on their way to the post parade as we handicapped and relaxed in our lawn chairs in the shade of the trees. She also loved walking the grounds, shopping for keepsakes, being a bit of a railbird and people watching.
One afternoon, over the course of a couple of hours, we had been observing a group of five people, three men and two women, sitting and talking together. Two of the men were in suits. Their conversation was ongoing, at times animated, only stopping when every so often someone would stop by and greet them, stay a few moments and go on their way. There was something familiar about two of the men that I hadn't yet picked up on. Elizabeth and I had passed them a couple of times. About the third time we passed by it finally hit me! They were NY trainer Gary Sciacca and Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel.
We were amazed and pleasantly surprised to see them sitting so casually among the crowd rather than being in the clubhouse. One of the men had even been enjoying an ice cream cone. Their discussion seemed lively as they sat at their picnic table for about two hours. I would have loved to be in on that conversation! However, while I have rarely been shy about introducing myself, even just to say hello and relay how I admire their work, it did not seem to be the time to intrude on their afternoon fun, despite seeing a few others do so. It was just simply so interesting observing them there.
Saratoga is considered to be if not the premiere thoroughbred meet in the U.S., then one of the top two with Del Mar being the other. Handicappers and horse racing aficionados alike look forward keenly to these two meets every year. While it is fascinating to see the very best of the best horses and trainers compete at these two meets and to do a bit of people watching as you never know who you might see there.
One morning we enjoyed a clubhouse breakfast in the box seats while we watched a few early morning workouts on the track. We were amazed at some of the nameplates on the reserved boxes. Among the most memorable ones I spotted was the Phipps family, one of the most famous in thoroughbred racing annals. If you go to Saratoga, definitely attend the "Clubhouse Breakfast at the Track." It's fascinating and certainly enriches the Saratoga experience!
Now, all of this up to now has been a wonderful trip down memory lane with perhaps a few reasons you should go to Saratoga if able! However, now I want to share a story that could serve as a bit of a lesson for us all, one that longtime readers may remember.
Elizabeth was nine the second time she went to Saratoga. It was 2005. On that trip she just didn't want to see a horse race - she wanted to learn how to handicap them! So we showed her how to read the past performances in the Daily Racing Form, introduced her to a few handicapping basics, explained what a bankroll is and talked to her about the importance of money management. She had brought her own money. She handicapped a number of her own races by focusing on the basics, mainly trainer stats and workouts. I also kept an eye out for what I termed an “Elizabeth” horse, which was simply an entry I thought had a very high % chance of finishing in-the-money and reviewed them with her. We found a number of those during our several days there.
She managed her bankroll and did not get carried away in wanting to make wagers on every race. It was amazing to see her study the Daily Racing Form! By the end of the week she had almost tripled her bankroll. She earned enough to buy books for herself in town, (she was and still is an avid reader and lover of books), as well as to purchase souvenirs for her and a couple of friends. She was thrilled, and we were impressed with her business like approach to handicapping and wagering!
In fact, Elizabeth's handicapping at Saratoga that year is documented in the July/August 2005 TIPS Report, one of our five most popular of the over-125 issues we’ve published. It's one all handicappers should read because the lesson here is the importance of going back to the basics of handicapping, money-management and placing wagers on sound selections. In other words, being mindful rather than rash with your handicapping and wagering decisions.
Just think! A nine year old newcomer to handicapping almost triples her bankroll in a matter of days by way of simple handicapping. Certainly there are lessons to be learned from that for all of us!
As much fun as it is to handicap, attend the races at Saratoga and enjoy the family atmosphere, be mindful that your main goal should be the same as it should be every day you handicap, and that is to earn a profit. Then take the time to explore the area and enjoy the Saratoga experience!
I believe the following two issues of the TIPS Reports, each related to Saratoga, will help you mentally prepare in staying on track for making a profit from the meet's races. Info below on how to order.
♦ Get Exotic with Show-a-Profit
♦ Battle of Saratoga: Importance of Wagers
♦ Q&A: Resolving Tied Beyer FiguresTherefore, as a special offer for the upcoming
♦ Handicapping Saratoga: A Week at the Spa!
♦ Our 9 year old more than doubles her bankroll using handicapping basics!
♦ One of our most popular issues ever!
Find more info here:
Get both issues by mail for $19.95 or one issue by mail for $12, ($16.95 & $10 now on sale).
Get both issues via download for $16 or one issue via download for $9, ($14 & $7 now on sale).
Please visit our website worthhandicapping.com or call us at 401-921-5158 if you have any questions at all or wish to place an order.