On the 23rd of July, Saratoga Flat Track opens for the summer season. The track is one of the loveliest in the East. I have fond memories of going there as a child, of seeing Onion beat Secretariat (something which made me cry like a baby-I loved that horse.)and of spending many happy days there with the gal who trained me to ride a hunter.
I think those memories are what made me interested in writing about the city of Saratoga Springs. I wanted to know how thoroughbreds got started in the city, what brought the people there in the first place and how the sport of thoroughbred racing has continued. I found lots of material and was surprised to learn that the first legal track started during the Civil War. That really seemed strange to me so I researched more and more. I found that in July 1863, riots took place in New York City, something I had not been aware of although I had lived in New York state most of my life.
The shock of learning those things forced me to finally write a book, called SARATOGA SUMMER: 1863. The book takes in both events and tells the story of the oldest and youngest of the five Irish O'Malley brothers. I drag those two young men through the trials and tribulations of a vicious riot and then drag the older one on to Saratoga in time for the first legalized racing there. The sequel to that book should come out in 2009.