Monday, August 4, 2008

Saratoga in 1863

This little article is about my favorite city--Saratoga Springs, NY. In fact, I used to live there during the summers with relatives, who have since moved south. But, my love for that city remains--so much so that I wrote a historical novel, SARATOGA SUMMER: 1863, that describes the movements of a family from the Conscription-riot action in new York City to the rural placidity of Sartoga. And they did it all just in time for the first legalized racing in that city. Saratoga Flat Track is the oldest continuously viable track in America, I believe.

It’s an equine attraction
Racing Museum is destination for fans of the track in Saratoga
Saturday, August 2, 2008
By Bill Buell (Contact)
Gazette Reporter

— There are enough museums in Saratoga Springs to satisfy most history buffs, regardless of their particular interest, but if it’s the middle of summer and you’re in Saratoga, then the National Racing Museum and Hall of Fame is definitely the place to be.

“Our attendance increases significantly in the summer. So July and August are by far our busiest months of the year,” said Mike Kane, communications director at the museum. “We get a lot of racing fans who come in the morning and then go to the races in the afternoon.”

With Saratoga Race Course being dark on Tuesdays, you might think the Museum and Hall of Fame would be particularly busy on that day. Not so, according to Kane.

“I think Tuesday tends to be a transition day in Saratoga,” he said.

“People who have been here for a week go home, and other people who are coming for the week are just arriving. If you’re looking to pick out a day to come to the museum, Tuesday’s a pretty good one. You won’t feel at all crowded like you might think.”

New exhibit
Visitors to the museum, 191 Union Avenue, will see a new exhibit on equine medicine that opened just last month.

“It’s an exhibit that ought to be appealing to people of all ages and interests,” said Kane. “We realized that the public really got involved in following the Barbaro injury and how he was treated, and the difficulties in trying to treat horses. It’s got a video component and lots of photographs and graphics. It’s a wonderful exhibit, and it’s an exhibit that might make you cry.”

Another new exhibit focuses on a number of U.S. presidents and their fascination with horses, while other museum highlights include a 90-minute documentary on the 2006 Kentucky Derby.

“And real racing fans will want to see the Hall of Fame and read some of the plaques, like Eddie Arcaro’s or maybe check out the Secretariat plaque,” said Kane. “There’s a lot of history here with plenty of familiar names.”

He said that most people, if they don’t take in the movie, can get in and out of the place in about two hours and see pretty much everything. That leaves lovers of military history, dance, automobiles and general Saratoga history an opportunity to visit one of Saratoga’s other museums.

History galore
“There’s a lot of wonderful history in Saratoga Springs and the place to start soaking it all in is the visitor center,” said Mary-Jane Pelzer, director of the Saratoga Springs Visitor Center, 297 Broadway.

“We tell some of the Saratoga story right here, and we have all the information people need about the other museums. People who love history will love spending time in our city.”

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