Wow! What terrific weather for opening weekend. What unfortunately wasn't so terrific seemed to be the attendance - there was a nice crowd but plenty of empty seats, parking spaces, and from my very unscientific perusal - hotel parking spaces. That is not a dismal thing - I think it's just the fact that many people, both Capital District residents as well as out-of-towners, don't get too excited about track season until August. Still, with the near-perfect weather, I would have liked more people.
One guy who wasn't complaining this weekend was jockey Ramon Dominguez. Congratulations Ramon on your record six wins on Sunday!
I really appreciated the weather during the Silks and Satins 5K. It was cool and almost misty during the race - and Margarita and I enjoyed the run through the east side. A big thanks to all the volunteers and corporate sponsors.
Well there sure was a lot of hoopla about the food choices this season at the track. The owner of Hattie's sure complained with her new location in the Carousel, but there was a line for me to wait in when I went to Hattie's stand at the track on Sunday. I would think twice about going to Hattie's again - I made what I thought was a simple request and asked for an extra plate so the three of us could share a fried chicken dinner and a few salads and they said they didn't have any. I pointed to the containers they serve the food in and they said they are inventoried and they couldn't give one of them either. Four pieces of fried chicken is a lot for one person for lunch on a hot day - so we wanted to share. C'mon Hattie's get with it.
On that subject, it would be nice if they could reserve some of the tables in the Carousel for the diners at Hattie's, Shirley's etc. - there was nowhere to sit because the betters just sort of squatted there. The kicker, and therefore the answer, was that the upstairs part of the Carousel was completely empty. If they set it up for betters to sit (with TVs etc.) so the diners could dine downstairs that would work.
Still talking about track food - I see Duo also has a booth. I'm just not feelin Sushi at the track. I'm also not feelin Moe's - not so much an anti-Mexican thing - just an anti chain thing. Chains are fine in their place - like Wilton.
The music at Hats Off Weekend was fantastic as well - at least the two bands I saw were. Maximus, playing on Caroline Street, was really good. The lead singer reminded me of Leather Tuscadaro - at least from 30 feet without my glasses (You probably have to be over 40 to get that Leather Tuscadaro reference). Captain Squeeze and the Zydeco Moshers were just phenomenal, and I really enjoyed their last set, which included not only their signature cajun numbers, but some inspired renditions of Beatles and Doobies songs, to name a few.
What wasn't so great was my experience on the Saratoga Chamber's web site when I looked up info for the Hats Off Festival. I had to search the relatively small font on the front page to find the Hats Off information. That information should have been featured in a large banner or something, but the Saratoga chamber's web site is old and tired - even the colors are drab - and doesn't offer a way to feature timely information. Maybe a new site is already in the works, but if not then they really should get going on that.
When I was downtown during the festival I hated seeing the empty storefronts - the old Borders and Grey Gelding locations sure stood out. But there were some bright spots - like the new place in the old Divinly Revolution location, and Boca Bistro sure looked great.
Going further down Broadway, I predicted a while back that the Thirsty Owl Wine Tasting room would be open by track season. As the below picture shows, it sure seems like they are doing major work there and there is still a ways to go. They originally hoped to open by July 1st, but it seems more like it will be late August before they finish. Travers weekend?
Attorneys for trainer Rick Dutrow, whose 10 year suspension was just upheld by the State Supreme Court Appelate Division, defiantly declared they would appeal the latest ruling to the New York State Court of Appeals. The sports reporters covering this case apparently weren't well versed on the New York court system, because the two articles I read failed to mention that Dutrow has an extremely low chance to even have his appeal heard by New York's top court, much less win. Dutrow must request "leave to appeal" and those requests are rarely granted - in probably well less than five percent of the cases. Obtaining leave to appeal can be done, in fact I was involved in a successful effort once, but the odds are against him - and this is just to get his case before the court - then he has to win. If Rick Dutrow doesn't think these justices read the papers, and therefore know about the problems in the horse racing industry as well as Governor Andrew Cuomo's recently expressed concerns, he's not smelling the coffee. My money says this appeal goes nowhere.
Let's end with some pizza. I'm not a big coupon user but Inferno Pizza has some pretty good coupon deals in the Saratogian's What's Happening Thursday insert, as well as on-line here.
What's the best value in Saratoga Springs hotels, at least outside of track season? In my book it's the Carriage House Inn. Margarita and I were looking for a hotel near our house because we have a number of relatives we need to house in the near future. Of the better Saratoga hotels, the Carriage House Inn was by far the least expensive, and it gets stellar reviews from Tripadvisor.com. The Holiday Inn and Hilton each wanted $199 for the night, and other city hotels were even higher, but we got a nice room at the Carriage House Inn for just $139. Check out this well-done Youtube video below:
Another good lodging value in Saratoga Springs is the Adirondack Inn, over on West Avenue. Although not exactly walking distance to downtown or the track, the rooms there are nice at a great price, and they include breakfast, at least during track season.