The horses get one more calm moment when walking down the path to the paddock before getting prepared for their race. (Photo by Eclipse Sportswire
There is this place at Saratoga Race Course. It’s far from the sea of colorful suits and dresses in the clubhouse. It’s far from the flashes of cameras in the winner’s circle.
Before the horses are saddled in the paddock or loaded into the starting gate, they must first make the journey down the paddock walkway. Sure, anyone can stand along the white railings as the horses stroll by. However, there is another area at the track where you can get an even closer look at these magnificent animals before they spring from the gate.
Right behind the Saratoga Pavilion, the horses emerge with their handlers and begin the trek to the paddock. In this area there are no fences separating human from horse. The closeness, intimacy, and access are almost unimaginable.
In many ways, this spot is the calm before the storm. It’s not nearly as loud in this area as it is once the horses get closer to the paddock.
Some trainers wait patiently for their horses to arrive so they can make the walk with them, while others sit in their golf carts and talk on the phone before dashing off to their barns across the street. On Opening Day, I spotted Chad Brown skimming a sign on the fence as he awaited his horse, Storming Inti. I acknowledged him and wished him good luck before he spurted off to the paddock. I could tell he was in the zone, but he was kind enough to notice and thank me for the remark. Storming Inti finished third.
There’s no official name or title for this specific spot. In fact, you won’t find many people there. But if you’d like to see the process of transferring the horses from the barns to the paddock, this is the perfect place to be. It's just one of those magical morsels of historic Saratoga Race Course that make it one of the greatest places on Earth.
Tune in to Fox Sports 1 on Aug. 10 for the Saratoga Special Stakes
and on Aug. 17 for the Sword Dancer Invitational Stakes.
The on-air duties will be handled by Greg Wolf, Richard Migliore, Andy Serling, Simon Bray, and Alyssa Ali. In conjunction with the broadcast, Racing 101's Joe Kristufek will be hosting a live fan TweetUP - @ABRLive #TJC Tour - beginning at 2 p.m. ET.