Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Archive of the Day

From Tarnished Crown: The Quest for a Racetrack Champion by Carol Flake:
"Saratoga and Suffolk both begin with S," Peter Fuller once told me, "but that's where the resemblance ends." Every year, when racing in New York moves north, Saratoga's brief season inspires railbirds to rise to the occasion with plaid pants and boaters, and stirs turf writers to flights of rapture. There is a special intensity to Saratoga, as James Agee observed, due to both the shortness of the season and the history and location of the town. Saratoga, said Agee, "grants none of that leisure for the gentle build-up and the dying fall which is the typical rhythm of more typical seasons but is brutally shear-lopped fore and aft." When fans "come to a small town thirty miles north of Albany in the foothills of the Adirondacks for thirty days' racing," he said, they "come to sit down and stay the time out, night and day."

For four weeks in August, Saratoga becomes...a place of pilgrimage, thronging with believers, swells, and touts who come to revive their spirits and renew their faith in racing. The cycle of racing that culminates in the spring with the classic races begins again, as the best young two-year-olds in the country make their debut, and the survivors of the previous generation battle it out for the three-year-old championship.

For some, even the idea of Saratoga is enough to keep the cycle going. Said Joe Palmer, the most bookish of sportswriters, "As a man sweltering through the lone and level sands of the Sahara draws new strength from an inward vision of green palm trees and cool water in some verdant oasis, so it is possible to struggle through Jamaica-in-July in the hope of Saratoga."
(More from up north either tonight or tomorrow...)


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