An Afternoon at The Spa
Last weekend we were fortunate enough to spend a gorgeous, sunny summer afternoon at the historic Saratoga Race Course—nicknamed The Spa, for the nearby mineral springs—which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.
Said to be the oldest sporting venue in the country, the track’s nickname as apt, as the tree-covered grounds make for a relaxing atmosphere that feels more like an afternoon in the park than smoky betting parlor.
We were invited to the track by America’s Best Racing, an initiative sponsored by the Jockey Club, Thoroughbred horse racing’s governing body, with the goal of getting young people back into the timeless sport of Thoroughbred racing.
While we spent most of our time hanging around the clubhouse, watching the races with a cool drink and cheering on the horses and jockeys, we made time to explore the rest of the lively grounds throughout the day. Saratoga has a wealth of live entertainment and prides itself on having a number of local food and drink vendors, versus the typical race-day fair of radioactive nachos. (There’s even a Shake Shack, if you don’t want to stray too far from the city.)
While betting always makes things more interesting, we had just as much fun heading to the shady paddock between races to examine the horses before making our picks. The paddock also made for the best people watching as well, with the sharply-dressed owners, trainers, and their guests inspecting their runners.
Saratoga is a leisurely Amtrak ride from the city, with the 8:15 a.m. train arriving just in time for the afternoon’s first race. A cab from the train station takes just a few minutes and costs less than $10. This year’s season runs until Monday, Sept. 2, so it’s not too late to explore this marvelous track.
- Laura and Ryan