I haven't done one of these in a long while, so here we go:
Did you catch Ramon Dominguez's tribute and award ceremony at the track today? He is really a class act. Read here to find more information about a fitting tribute to the great jockey who was forced into retirement due to an injury.
Well it's good to see great weather, a good crowd, and record handle for the Travers. It was certainly an exciting race as well. So much for the big three horses in that race, huh? This should make the Breeders Cup all that more interesting. Here's hoping NYRA has a strong final week to cap off a good season.
I read a rumor on Twitter, and at this point that's all I could classify that as, a rumor. The tweet said something about NYRA is considering going to 8 weeks next year. I hope it was just simply BS, or a dumb joke. If they do expand the season, we should all rebel and not show up until August 1st. That had to be a joke.
Overheard between NYRA staff this morning ... 8 weeks of racing next year being considered. #thanksforthenametags
I'm not necessarily so offended, but does the Saratogian have any standards in their pink sheet advertising? Is it worth the money are they getting for that strip club ad that's there everyday on the front page? It's just awkward.
Speaking of the Saratogian, did you see that it is now being printed by the Times Union and will go to press even hours earlier than it previously went? Several employees who worked the press in Troy lost their jobs. I hated the Saratogian's 10pm or so press time, but 8pm (or earlier?) is ridiculous. There won't be a single sports score from night games. I realize the directive, which also affects the Troy Record and other sister publications, came from well above, but that news was disconcerting.
I see Kings Tavern, across from the track next to where Sabinas used to be, opened back up this year. It was closed last year and perhaps the year before. I have to think that a bar steps from the two Union Avenue entrances would do a killing during track season.
I am really enjoying reading the Saratoga Special - it's a newpaper that just puts me in a great mood. I think I read on somewhere on its web site that they are going year-round next year. Interesting. Here is what I wrote about them a few weeks ago, in case you missed it.
I tried ordering pizza from Marino's Sunday night, and was annoyed when I found out they were closed on Sundays. I was surprised that was the case even during track season. Despite my annoyance at Marino's unavailability, I have to respect a restaurant that is good enough to not have to eek every last dime out of track season, and had the confidence to take one day off a week, even in August. We settled for a sweet crust pizza from D'Andreas, which I now realize only tastes good when you're drunk.
Congress Plaza to the north of Citizens Bank is kaput. As part of the plan for a new hotel and retail, they demolished a large portion of the once forlorn strip mall. I'm looking forward to seeing the new building start taking shape.
I have been looking forward to dining at Istanblue Mediterranean Cuisine ever since I heard about its planned opening. I like Lebanese and Greek food, and understand that Turkish food, which Istanblue specializes in, is similar.
Margarita and I dined at the relatively new restaurant, located in the former Friendly's location at Congress Plaza, Wednesday night. Our experience was disappointing, and I don't know if the place will last until January.
There's a certain cluelessness about the operation there. We were in our seats for several minutes and given water and bread without a word from the young staff members working in what are apparently support roles, but no one came back to take a drink order. That became somewhat understandable when our waiter, who eventually arrived on the scene, informed us that they didn't have a liquor license yet. That's not so unique to new restaurants, but Istanblue initially opened without even a web site, so I'm not sure if the lack of liquor (during track season!) was the owner's inexcusable lack of planning or the New York State Alcohol Control Board not being efficient. In any event I don't know when the liquor license will arrive but the lack of one seems to be affecting business; there were only five tables occupied when we arrived at 7:20PM on the Wednesday before the Travers. I should acknowledge the server was friendly and relatively knowledgeable about the menu.
It started off all right, and Margarita's lentil soup was good and a the smoothness of the pureed beans created a different taste and texture. She also ordered the chicken kabobs $16), and I ordered the Iskender ($18), which the menu described as Lamb and beef gyro, zesty red sauce, yogurt and hot butter sauce over seasoned seared pita.
Our waiter said there was a mistake in the kitchen with my entree, which caused Margarita's meal to be served minutes before mine. OK, stuff happens. And the kabobs were moist and very good, but the Iskender had a pungency and flavor that didn't agree with me. That may be understandable - after all I was trying a new cuisine - but I didn't enjoy the meat or the red sauce. In all fairness, I nearly got sick the first time I tried Indian food, and I eventually acquired a taste for it. Nonetheless, the iksender was supposed to come with pita, but instead it was served over the exact same type of bread that was served before the dinner. That made me wonder. I didn't realize this bread was a diversion off the menu until I got home and reviewed the menu and started writing this mini-review. I get annoyed when the menu says one thing and you end up getting something different.
So maybe Istanblue will get a clue (that rhyme was unintended) and hit their stride and perhaps find a niche this fall amongst returning Skidmore students, who tend to be more open-minded about trying new cuisines, pungency and poor service or not. The uniqueness and potential of the food, especially in Saratoga Springs which has a limited variety of ethnic restaurants (lots of Asian, Italian, and Mexican but little else), gives me some hope. Otherwise, Istanblue has a long long way to go if it is to survive the challenging and competitive Saratoga restaurant scene
This 1937 movie, set in Saratoga Springs, will be shown on the Turner Classic Movies (TCM - Channel 58 on Capital Region Time-Warner Cable) network at 6:15 tonight. The description of the movie is listed in Time Warner's program listing as "A horse breeder's (Lionel Barrymore) granddaughter (Jean Harlow) falls in love with a gambler (Clark Gable) in Saratoga Springs, N.Y". I also know that Jean Harlow died during filming, and there is a stand-in doing many of her scenes.
I've always wanted to see this movie, as with any movie with a Saratoga connection, and just found out that it is being shown tonight. Hopefully if I hear about it being shown again I can give you more timely notice. You can watch the original trailer of the movie below.
Healthy Living is not cheap, but its products are certainly top-notch, ad if you can get past the sticker shockw it's a fun place to shop. Here is their latest newsletter entitled SPAC, Track, and Divine Wines.
There is a somewhat under-the-radar Saratoga blog focusing on politics and Saratoga Race Course. Tom Noonan has a good perspective on both the racing as well as the business/politics end of things in our little corner of the racing world. You can check out his self-titled blog here.
OK, maybe you are reading The Saratoga Special, and that makes sense because I am really enjoying it this year and perhaps you are too. If you are not reading this superb publication, and you have a passion for Saratoga Race Course, then you should find a copy today. It's a free paper with daily editions available during the entire meet at the track and at many retail establishments in Saratoga Springs. You can also read the online version.
The Saratoga Special is somewhat of an insider's paper run by two brothers Sean and Joe Clancy, as well as Tom Law who was with The Thoroughbred Times until recently. Sean Clancy was a steeplechase jockey at Saratoga during the 1990s - I really enjoyed his book Saratoga Days, which is about his daily life while racing during the Saratoga meet in 1999.
The paper is just fun - informative but not too dense - and each edition is guaranteed to give me a few smiles and laughs. I really enjoy the "Here and There" section on pages three and four, which is an easy read and includes a subsection called "Worth Repeating", which is a number of overheard quotes from many places in an around the track, especially the backstretch.
So find a copy and see if you'll get hooked like I did. Hey, it's something free and it's all about Saratoga, what's not to like?
Some idiot wrote on the internet last month that "....Trouble is, today there are no great breakfast places in Saratoga Springs, at least if you want something a little unique and higher end." OK, that idiot was me, but quite simply I was wrong and thanks to Scallions Restaurant, my reports of Saratoga breakfast's death have been greatly exaggerated.
Scallions, located at Lake and Henry, has filled the void left by Beverly's 2012 departure and is serving really unique and delicious breakfasts with good service, great coffee, and - stay with me here - off-street parking.
So check out Scallions' breakfast menu here, and see if your mouth doesn't water. You can like their Facebook page here. The best part: they apparently will continue serving breakfast even after track season. That is a win for Saratogians, at least those that love breakfast.