After 6 weeks of great times at the Spa, this is the week I usually crash and enter into a deep morose period. I tend to get cranky, and bitch about things like: is there ever gonna be a time the light bulbs are all working in the Saratoga infield tote board? (wait, is that 8-1, 3-1, or is it 9-1???) But thanks to the historic Rachel Alexandra win in the Woodward on Saturday, I'm still on a high. I suspect many other fans who were there that day, are feeling the same way. How many of you have watched the replay at least 4 or 5 times?
I will remember a ton of stuff from my many days spent at the Spa this summer-the overall better weather than '08 (except for yet another crappy Travers weather day), Linda Rice's incredible win percentage of 27 % and her "in the money" % of 43%, the 6 way turf photo finish on Alabama Day, seeing Chip Woolery having such a good time at the Spa, watching Summer Bird duplicate his Daddy's feat with the Belmont/Travers double, seeing 2 year old filly Hot Dixie Chick blow away the field in 2 races- but nothing compares to Rachel winning the Woodward Stakes.
I have attended a ton of sporting events in my time, some I remember vividly, some barely at all, but I believe I will always remember standing in the clubhouse on Saturday and watching Rachel come down the stretch while the crowd all around me roared.
How often does a potential great Graded Stakes race suddenly fall apart when "the" horse pulls out a few days before or maybe scratches that morning with a fever or minor injury? Or if the horse makes it to the gate, often we are disappointed-the horse gets a bad trip, gets beat out by a lesser known, or simply never picks up his/her feet to run.
But Rachel did none of that, this athlete would not let us down, this time the race was better than we could have imagined and the Spa roared as loud as it ever had in its storied history.
A native of New York City, now living in Saratoga County, 46 weeks of the year is dedicated to awaiting opening day at the Spa, my justification for living through very long Upstate NY winters. Thanks to Rachel, I suspect I will recount the Woodward Stakes more than a few times this winter and that will help to make the winter seem a little shorter, a little warmer and a lot happier.