Saratoga, “The Graveyard of Champions”
If there is a better nickname in sports for a venue, I am not aware of it. Saratoga Race Course, "the Graveyard of Champions" rolls of the tongue better than any British Open course, or even "The Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field." The Race Course opened in Saratoga Springs August 3rd of 1863 and has been attracting hundreds of thousands of race fans and tourists from around the world each year since opening its doors.
But what makes Saratoga Race Course so special? Is it the lure for some to step back in time with men and women attending a sporting event dressed in their most fashionable summer clothing? Or is the opportunity to stake your claim to a few picnic tables and room for your pop up tent inside one of the sports world's national treasures. It's probably some of that plus, the beauty of the well cared for, historic structure. But maybe, it's the ghosts that lie within the walls or on the track, that bring people back year after year.
Trust me, I have been to a few race tracks and NYRA does it right. Saratoga is their baby. You can have the best venue in the world, which this may be, but if the product stinks, then who really cares? That certainly is not the case here. The quality of horse racing at the Saratoga meet is amongst the best in the world. The excitement that has lived and died on the Saratoga Race Course has been rivaled by few.
How did the race course get its famous nickname? Well, people remember about 6 years ago when 1-5 favorite, Triple Crown Winner American Pharoah lost to long shot Keen Ice in the Travers. That was just the most recent champion's tombstone to be placed.
The reputation of being "The Graveyard of Champions" started about 100 years prior to that race. According to SaratogaRaceTrack.com, "the unofficial guide to Saratoga Racing," in 1918, legendary champion Man o' War lost the only race of his career to a horse ironically named, Upset. Then the second Triple Crown winner in history, Gallant Fox, went down in the Travers to 100-1 shot named Jim Dandy! Not enough to scare you or your champion horse yet? How about the rock star horse of the 1970's, Triple Crown winner Secretariat? Fresh off of winning horse racing's greatest achievement in 1973, the legendary horse ran in the Whitney Stakes and lost to a horse named Onion.
That's enough for me. This track is haunted and it's a don't miss this summer or any summer. The Drive with Charlie & Dan will be trackside every Friday and you can catch all of the live racing calls Friday - Sunday on 104.5 FM, the 1045TheTeam App and www.1045theteam.com. Kevin Rich will be your host for the races on Saturday and Sunday.