An Afternoon at the Saratoga Race Course || August 29, 2016
Before moving to Saratoga, all we were hearing about was the horse racing that goes on at the historic race track. Everyone who had been there or was from there was telling us we HAD to go experience it. We moved up here right at the tail end of the racing season, and all that meant to us initially was that there weren’t many rental homes available, hotels were completely full or ridiculously expensive, and downtown Saratoga was always super crowded. Since we’re all about experiencing and appreciating things that make wherever we’re living special, we agreed that we had to go see what the fuss was about. We had never been to a horse race before, or paid any attention to them for that matter. That’s kind of how it goes with sports in general for us…we just don’t care. I was just telling Curtis the other day how incredibly thankful I was to be married to a man who doesn’t care one bit about sports so that I don’t have to pretend to be interested. Sure, he has his own quirky interests and hobbies, but they make him unique and none of them involve watching TV or having a bad weekend just because his team didn’t win. The closest we come to any sporting event is the day after Super Bowl Sunday, when we go on Youtube and watch a playlist of all the commercials and vote on our favorite. Ah, Commercial Monday. It’s one of my favorites. 😉
Anyway, I digress. We decided to go check out the races on a weekday afternoon so that we could avoid the weekend crowds. It was only $5 per person to get in to the track, and that got us open seating on benches on the ground level and allowed us to stand next to the fence and watch when the races were happening. Fun fact, to this day, that’s still the only thing we’ve had to pay for in terms of entertainment or things to see and do in New York — everything else, hiking, camping, and otherwise, has been free! We brought water, snacks, and an umbrella with us to shield us from the sun, and did just fine for a couple hours.
The biggest thing I learned is that people don’t go to the races to watch horses race. I feel kind of silly that I lived my whole life thinking that horse racing is interesting to people simply because it’s horses running in a circle. I thought people went to enjoy dressing up with big fancy hats, drinking beer, and cheering for their favorite horse. Nope, in reality, it’s all about gambling. When I realized that, the whole idea of going to a horse race suddenly felt a lot less glamorous and exciting. People don’t even go out and watch the races — there were so many at picnic tables or benches outside of the track, watching videos of the races that were happening just a few yards away. Curtis did some research in between races to learn how people bet and what all the numbers on the screen meant. It was crazy how much money was being thrown around. We didn’t partake in any of the gambling, but Curtis lost us twelve imaginary dollars and the chance to go get ice cream afterwards. Bummer!
We stayed as long as we wanted, there were about 30-40 minutes between each race and the races themselves were over in 1-2 minutes, so honestly our attention span wore out after a couple hours. But hey, we experienced the excitement that goes on at the Saratoga Race Track, and we never have to wonder why people travel from all around to see this. Now we can go back to our happy little life of hiking mountains and not caring about sports. We did enjoy seeing the big mansions along the road as we walked back to our car, and did a little letterboxing in Congress Park before calling it a day and heading home. We’ve now seen the 3 things that make Saratoga a popular tourist destination — the springs, the resorts, and now the horse racing. They’re all cool and all, but it’s safe to say they have nothing to do with the reason why we’re here. We belong in the mountains!