Stars of Yesterday: Looking Back at Best Arkansas Derby Winners
Every memory I have of Saratoga is a happy one. This is a place full of magic, that makes you feel like you are being transported back in time. It is fun and exciting even for those who don't follow horse racing, and for those who love to watch the ponies, there is simply no place better.
I grew up around horses, but didn't start coming to The Spa until a few years ago, and it quickly became a family tradition. My parents' wedding anniversary is August 8, so we would always celebrate with a day out at the track followed by dinner downtown. This year, it will be on the day of the Whitney Stakes that my parents say cheers to 28 years. Not bad, huh?
It's been interesting to see how my Saratoga experience has changed over the years. It is always exciting and always fun but always different. On my first trip to this track, I never would have dreamed that in just a few years I would find myself back here with media credentials. Nor would I have guessed how happy a certain spot in upstate New York could make me year after year. Beyond going to the track itself, visits to the Roosevelt Bath House, the National Dance Museum and Yaddo Gardens have become synonymous with summertime. Not to mention root beer at Stewart's. That's a must-do. And I don't even like root beer.
This year, I'm thrilled to be a part of Horse Racing Radio Network's broadcast team for their "Saturday's in Saratoga" coverage. You can catch me on www.horseracingradio.net on Sirius/XM radio. I'll be posting live updates of my schedule and Saratoga happenings on Twitter and Instagram at @acacia_courtney, so be sure to follow along!
Here are some of my favorite moments from my first time experiencing opening weekend at The Spa. The best part about all of this is that it’s just the beginning, and there are so many more memories to be made in “the summer place to be.”
5) Friday morning on the track backside - Watching horses work in the early mornings is one of my favorite things about being at the track in person. There's something ethereal about watching the silhouettes of Thoroughbred's with the sunrise as a backdrop that can only be fully experienced with your own two eyes. One of the (many) great things about Saratoga is that you can also have breakfast at The Porch of the Clubhouse and enjoy a full buffet with a view of the track.
4) The first race of the Saratoga meet – NYRA track announcer Larry Collmus talked us through the race that kicked off the next 40 days. Sea Raven crossed the finish line first and made us all say, “Wow! It’s really here!” The excitement could easily be felt when the crowd cheered as the horses broke from the Saratoga starting gate for the first time this year.
3) Watching Hard Not to Like win the Diana – Who isn’t a sucker for a beautiful gray horse? And, who doesn’t get excited when that horse can actually run well? I watched a certain mare walk in the paddock and had a good gut feeling about her, so naturally I was pretty excited when my hunch turned out to be right. Hard Not to Like easily lives up to her name.
2) The energy on Broadway – After the races, people head downtown for dinner, drinks, and sweets. In the morning, you can spend hours walking through the shops on Broadway before heading to the track. The motto, “relax – you’re in Saratoga,” always applies.
1) Broadcasting the Sanford and Diana Stakes with HRRN – Pre-race and post-race comments and interviews come from me as I dash between the paddock and the winner’s circle during the HRRN coverage. I am so grateful to the people from HRRN for this opportunity, and I can’t wait to do it again next week.