This was a banner year for Saratoga trips, as I made it out for 4 of the 7 racing weekends. I had a great time and was able to stay with my friends Mark and Melody in their camper at a nearby campground. Saved a fortune on hotel rooms. There was a lot of great racing, and although I didn’t win money by the last day of the meet, I did place a lot of bets, and only ended up down $40. Not bad for 8 days racing.
All of my photos are up in my flickr gallery, but I’ll post one photo from each week to keep you interested. Jim Dandy day started out nice, but then rain moved in, and by the 5th race it was pouring out. Hiked the camera back out to the car only to have it clear up a few races later for some really nice races later that day. We saw a lot of great horses this season, Fort Larned (eventual Breeders Cup Classic Winner), Alpha and Golden Ticket battling to finish in a dead heat in the $1 million dollar Travers Stakes. Mucho Macho Man and To Honor and Serve in the Woodward. A really great season that I will remember fondly for a long time.
Saturday I took a trip to the Finger lakes Racetrack to practice taking photos with our camera for upcoming summer trips to Saratoga. It was really hot, but I had a good time and got some great shots. There is definitely a trick to getting good photos. I am still working at it. Its tricky to learn why some photos have better focus, color, and sharpness, while similar photos are a bit lacking. Here’s a few of the better shots. A gallery of all my photos from the Finger Lakes Race Track is available on my flickr page.
I’d been looking forward to this race for a few months, as my wife and I were going to be in Philadelphia for Thanks giving, and I knew it wouldn’t be too much trouble to go to New York City from there, rather than driving the 6 hours from Western NY. I was really surprised to see Harlem Rocker as the morning line 15-1 long shot. But I felt good because I knew there was money to be made. I met some friends in NY for the day and saw a couple other HR fans there too.
Took a lot of photos in the paddock area, and generally had a good time. The race was incredible. We were able to get right on the rail and watch Harlem Rocker go by. We were ecstatic and screaming like crazy. Did he win? Who won? And then when he was posted winner we were all yelling and high-fiving and running around like idiots. It was awesome. Then they took it all away. And we were sore losers. We called bullshit and called out Prado a bit.
From the replays at the track it really looked like Harlem Rocker had a half length lead when he cut over. Now that I watch the replay again, I can see Prado pull up a little. But still, like Pletcher said, he had every opportunity to run, and HR went past him. It begs the question, how much room do you need to give before taking the lane? I thought he had a half length at least. If these were two cars, and the white car had passed the brown car and pulled in front of him, then the brown car decided to speed up and go past the white car, would we have said someone got cut off here? Unlikely. Harlem Rocker had the speed, took the position, and then if Tale of Ekati wanted it back, he needed to move and take it.
My friend Mark’s brother John summed it up best, he said: “I’ve seen horses lose after doing less, I’ve seen them win after doing a lot worse, but not in a graded stakes race.”.
The most disappointing thing to me, is that at Aqueduct they have a wall where they post the winning silks for the last 5 years, and all the photos of last winners, and HR will not be up there, and probably nobody will remember how close it was, except us.
Harlem Rocker is quite a fine animal, and he has a lot more white than earlier this year. He’s a fine horse.
It was disappointing to see both Springside injured and Wanderin Boy breakdown.
We all made some money, with Harlem Rocker as such a long shot, and Tale of Ekati too. My friend Mark and I would have each been at least $200 richer had he won, and if I had boxed my trifecta instead of wheeling it, I would have hit that one too. Enjoy these photos of my day at The Big A. The photos are a bit “noisey” but with the time of the year and the time of the race, it was basically twilight and my digital elph doesn’t really do that well in low light situations. I am extremely happy with the photos I got, but you can see my Harlem Rocker photos from the summer time are much crisper.