Monday, 24 August 2015

Entertainment Monday: Saratoga Race Track (Monday 8/24/2015)

Saratoga Race Track: Horse Racing

This past Wednesday 8/19/2015 Momma Bear, Jon Bear and Jon Bear's sister in law Shirley Bear all went out to see a day at the races at the Saratoga Race Track in upstate New York, which is only a hop, skip and jump away from Albany, NY where Jon Bear lives.  Prior to the race we had a very nice lunch at The Old Bryan Inn in Saratoga. 

Old Bryan Inn Link

For an appetizer we all shared the Rosemary Garlic Duck Lollipops and the Crab Meat Watermelon salad.  They were two unique appetizers that I had never had before.  The Duck Lollipops were a lot like meatballs on a stick, but were drizzled in some kind of cheese and were very tasty.  The Crab Meat and Watermelon Salad was even better.  It had a spicy kick to it though, as there may have been some jalapeno mixed in with the salad portion.  We needed spoons, which Corey our server did provide for us, for the salad as it was quite watery with all the cut melon.  Jon Bear had their Filet Mignon Cheese Steak sandwich,  while Shirley Bear had the French Onion Prime Rib Sandwich.  Momma Bear got the Chicken, Sausage and Shrimp Jambalaya.  We also picked up a Chicken, Sausage and Shrimp Jambalaya to go for Robert Bear, Jon Bear's brother, who was not able to make the trip with his wife and our Mom.  

We all enjoyed our meals and the entire meal for 4 was reasonably priced as I also had a couple of beers with my meal.  All told the bill was around $125.00 after tip I think.  A gift certificate was used so I'm not exactly certain of the final bill, but given we were in Saratoga Springs, all in all it was a reasonable fare. 

Prior to the race we also tried to go to a specialty Olive Oil Shop in downtown Saratoga, but unfortunately they were closed for an Employee Appreciation Day.  Their Burlington, Vermont store had mentioned on the company website that it would be closed for the Employee Appreciation Day, but no mention was made as to the closing of their other locations.  Needless to say we were a bit let down and disappointed.  We did not let it spoil our mood for the races though.

 Saratoga Race Track

The Saratoga Race track is a little bit tricky to get in to.  We got in line to get tickets to enter and for tickets to sit in the grandstand.  We paid for tickets to the grandstand for $10.00 a piece but were not given (nor did we pay for) the tickets to enter, which we had asked for.  Therefore we had to go to another line to get our tickets to enter the premises for an additional $5.00 a piece.   I am not entirely sure why the could not sell us the entry tickets and the grandstand tickets together instead of putting us through the small hassle of having to wait in two lines.  Thankfully it was not a very busy day at the track though so we moved through rather quickly.  The weather was pleasant, albeit a bit warm as it was a mostly sunny day with temperatures around 90 F or 22.2 C.  So sitting in the grandstand kept the warm summer sun off of us at least.  

Shirley was the only one of the three of us who knew how to place a bet, so she acted as our bookie. I have been to the Saratoga Race track in the past but had never bet on any horses before.  I bought $80.00 with me but only ended up spending $28.00 on bets as I am not a big spender or adept gambler.  Shirley got in a bet for the 1st race but Mom and I did not begin placing bets until the second race.  I ended up picking the winning horse in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th races of the day.  There were 10 races on the bill.  I also picked the Place Winner correctly in the 7th race.  I only bet on races 2-7 and quit when I had a net gain of $3.00 with my winnings.  I think my mom and Shirley also roughly broke even for the day.  Shirley was the most ambitious better of the three of us and was in rather poor shape going into the 8th race of the day having lost around $180.00.  Mom and Shirley decided that that 8th race would be their final race of the day so we could all beat the traffic home prior to the finish of the last two races.  Thankfully Shirley pulled off the miracle trifecta in a photo finish on the 8th race and won a little over $200.00 ultimately salvaging her near net loss of $180.00.  We had a lot of fun and it was a nice thing to do for a change, as none of us are regular race goers.  Mom and Shirley had last gone to the races 2 years ago.  

As a bit of a side note the horse I bet my most money on was named Lemon Song.  I placed a $4.00 bet on him to win the 3rd race of the day, and he came through for me! YAY Lemon Song! *Jon Bear does the Lemon Song dance*.   His name stood out to me because of a fun little inside thing that Carlyn and I share about Lemons.  As soon as I saw his name I knew I had to bet on him even if he was not the favorite.  It turned out he had the 2nd best odds to win so his payout was not a whole lot on my measly little bet.  I am sure Carlyn will appreciate that I took a chance on him and be equally delighted as I was that he won his race! 

Next weekend the big race of the year, The Traver's Stakes (with roughly a 1.75 million dollar purse) will be taking place in Saratoga.  Tickets are already sold out and it was just officially announced that the triple crown winner American Pharoah (the horsies name is actually spelled incorrectly as Pharaoh is spelled with the A prior to the O, but when you win millions of dollars who really cares how your name is spelled?)  will be racing for the Traver's Stakes.  I imagine it will be something of a madhouse at Saratoga Race track and that the pomp and circumstance will be accompanied by a sellout crowd in full race day regalia.  I'm sure that the parents of students returning to Skidmore College in Saratoga will be delighted by all the additional traffic, with the college opening up on the same weekend for returning students. >.<  Ah, such is life though.  Perhaps they will attend the races and win a bit of cash to make the traffic headaches a bit more bearable.  =)

I would absolutely go to the races again, as the racetrack and town are both beautiful places to visit.  The betting makes it a bit more fun too.  Especially if you are able to break even or win a little bit of money.  =)  I think the Travers can be a bit of a zoo (I actually went to watch the Travers one year even though I did not bet on any horses) but some people don't mind that as much as I do.  So for myself, I'd likely go on a non Travers weekend. 

The track is only open from late July to beginning of September so racing season is not long.  I believe their is a short harness track racing season following the regular racing season, but don't quote me on it.   If any of our readers get the chance to visit the Capital Region of New York State in late Summer, the track and Saratoga town itself is a must visit.  


  1. I am clueless about betting. Was at a race course recently and went bonkers trying to figure out who to bet.

    1. I don't really know much about betting either. Thankfully my sister and law had enough of a grasp on it to help out my mom and myself. >.<

      We used the racing book to help us pick which horses to bet on. The book showed the odds, even though I admittedly don't understand everything about odds making either. >.<

  2. Glad that you had a fun day at the race track. I am pleased that choosing Lemon Song worked for you.

    1. Thanks Carlyn. I like trying new things, and while I don't see myself ever becoming a regular track-goer, I could definitely see myself going once or so ever couple of years so long as I live close enough to a race course as I do now.


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