Saratoga Race Course has hosted major horse racing events since 1864. The most famous racing horses in history have run there including Man’o War, Secretariat and this year’s Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah, who is scheduled to run the Travers Stakes this year. The place has grown over the years and is often referred at as the Grand Old Lady. Crowds of over 35,000 often attend during the races run 6 days a week every August until Labor Day.
A big thanks must go out to photographers Dennis Donohue and Robert Dungan who got me a backstretch pass which allowed me to photograph near the Start/Finish line and from the less crowded Backstretch. The Backstretch is also the home to the horses who come to Saratoga to race. I walked through a few of the stables in between races. The horses were curious about me and poked their heads out.
You knew I could not resist taking a motion photo with all the horses running around. I took this panning photo at 1/60th of a second which gave a nice blur to the background and the horse’s legs. I did these on the cool down laps as I only had a few race starts on the day close enough to photograph. This is the reason the horse above is going in the wrong direction.
Besides the Travers, the other big race at Saratoga is The Whitney which was run the day I was there. The winning horse gets a spot in the $5 million Breeder’s Cup held in November. The prize purse for The Whitney is not bad either totaling $1.25 million with the winner taking home 60% of it.
While many people watch the races at Saratoga from the grandstands or clubhouse, thousands spend the day in the Backyard Picnic Area where people are allowed in at 7AM to claim a picnic table and/or area. There are monitor kiosks located throughout the area for people to watch the races and locations to bet on the races. I witnessed people coming into the track with big or multiple coolers, pop-up canopies, blankets and folding chairs of every type. It was one big party in the backyard.
Not to long ago, Sports Illustrated named the Saratoga Race Course as the 10th Best Sports venue in the United States. After spending a day there, I completely agree and hope to go back again.