Horses thunder around the far turn, their hooves beating almostas fast as your heart. You watch your favorite colors come intothe homestretch, just a wish and a nose behind the leader. Winor lose, you leave elated at your first visit to Saratoga racetrack.
In it’s heyday in the 1890’s, the racing season at Saratoga wasthe social center for New York society. It still is. When youfinish your day at the track you can stroll along Broadway, Saratoga’smain street, with its turn-of-the-century buildings and intriguingshops. Or explore the menus of the dozens of restaurants in thedowntown area. At the Olde Bryan Inn, a short block off Broadway,you can relax in a cozy room that has hosted diners since 1773.
Flying to Saratoga County
A pleasant flight on a summer afternoon, Saratoga is easily overlookedas a destination for New Englanders, yet it’s right in our backyard.To approach the airport, stay on the east side of the Hudson riveruntil you’re north of the Albany Class C Airspace. Saratoga CountyAirport lies just beyond Albany’s Airspace, so once you crossthe river, keep below 2000 feet. While you’d expect the Hudsonto make an easy landmark, remember that you’re not looking forthe mighty river you see flowing under the George Washington bridge.North of Albany the Hudson is seldom more than a narrow stream;from 2000 feet it looks like a country creek.
Saratoga County Airport is located 23 miles North of the AlbanyVOR, on the 06 radial. Runway 5/23 is 4700′ x 100′; runway 14/32is 4000′ x 100′. Lying on the broad, flat plain of the MohawkValley, Saratoga has easy approaches with no obstacles, but watchout for gliders in the vicinity of the airport. Saratoga is oneof the prime gliding centers on the East Coast. If you come fromthe northeast, you’ll pass over the city of Saratoga Springs withits oval racetracks. The airport is five miles southwest of thecity. The unicom at 122.8 is monitored during business hours,from 7:30 in the morning until dusk, seven days a week, year round..Jet A and 100LL fuel is available at Richmor Aviation, the FBO,and there’s plenty of tiedown space in front of their building.During August there is a $5 landing fee for twins and a $10 feefor jets. Overnight tiedowns are $5. Richmor does have a courtesycar, and they can usually provide a ride to and from a restaurant.Several are within a mile of the airport.
If you’re planning on going into town for the day, its best togo by taxi. The cost is around $10, plus $2 a head for additionalpassengers. Tom Miller, the airport manager, says that if youcall when you’re about 15 minutes out, the folks at Richmor willhave a cab ready to meet you when you land..
Enterprise Rent-a-Car offers pick up and delivery at the airport,but you must call ahead for reservations. The cost for a car isfrom $32.99 to $69.99 per day with unlimited mileage.
Places to See
Saratoga boasts of both a harness and flat track, each with aseparate season. The Saratoga Harness Raceway operates year round,except December. Post-time is 7:45 PM. You may call for racingdays. Flat track racing is held at the Saratoga Race Course whichis the nation’s oldest thoroughbred track founded in 1863. Thethoroughbred races start the last week in July and run throughthe last Monday of August. This is Saratoga’s high season. Racesare held from Wednesday to Monday with a post-time of 1 PM. Theseason’s culmination comes with the Travers Stakes and the Hopeful,which run on the last two Saturdays in August.
The 1996 racing season has been extended fromJuly 26 to Labor Day.
Be sure to make reservations ahead of time if you’re planningon staying overnight in track season. Not only do hotels and guesthouses fill up, but you may find some August prices are more thandouble their off-peak rates!
While the track is Saratoga’s most famous attraction, Richmorreports that many pilots head for the Saratoga Performing ArtsCenter. Located just over three miles from the airport in theSaratoga Spa State Park, SPAC, as it’s commonly called, is a favoritedestination for bikers. SPAC is the June home of the New YorkCity Opera. In July it hosts the New York City Ballet, in Augustthe Philadelphia Orchestra. Guest artists, offering everythingfrom classical to jazz to rock, perform throughout the warm months.Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy on the lawn while the orchestra plays.
The National Museum of Dance lies around the corner from SPAC,next door to Lincoln Baths, where you may still "take thewaters," as society matrons did a hundred years ago. Themuseum has four spacious exhibit halls devoted to professionalAmerican dance. There is also a shop and cafe on site. The museumis open from May to September from 11 AM to 7 PM.
With a similar eye for convenience, The National Museum of Racingis just across from the main entrance to the thoroughbred racetrack.Here you will find racing memorabilia as well as paintings, photosand trophies from some of the most famous thoroughbred horses.The museum is open daily from 10 AM to 4:30 PM and Sundays from12 to 4:30 PM.
If you’d like a sense of the glories of Saratoga’s past, strolldown Union Avenue from the track to Congress Park, enjoying thecolorful beds of flowers and the Victorian homes that line thestreet. In Congress Park the Casino Museum, which was once a workingCasino, gives you a taste of the luxury of that era. The exhibitsshow 19th century resort life in Saratoga. During high seasonthe museum is open daily from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM.
With so many enticements within walking distance, you may wantto check on the getaway packages offered by local accommodations.
Where to Stay
It’s no exaggeration to say that the Saratoga area boasts hundredsof places to stay. The ones listed below are personal favorites,within walking distance of both the track and downtown Saratoga.
If a romantic bed and breakfast is your first choice, checkout The Westchester House, a Gothic Victorian home withantique furnishings. In fine weather enjoy your breakfast on thepatio in their side garden. Rates are from $70 to $200 per nightdepending on the season booked and breakfast is included.
Right across from The Clubhouse entrance to the thoroughbredtrack, Six Sisters Bed and Breakfast offers you a fantasticview of Union Avenue from the balcony of its Master Bedroom Suite.Host Steve Ramirez enjoys whipping up hearty country breakfastsserved with candlelight during the winter months! Rates are $70to $100 per room except during special events. This price includesbreakfast.
The Inn at Saratoga, on Broadway in the heart of thedowntown area, can promise not only comfortable rooms but a LiveJazz Brunch Buffet on Sunday from 10:00-2:00. Described below,their restaurant is worth a trip in itself.. In the off seasonrooms are priced from $85-$145 per night. During track seasonthis becomes $196-$245 per night.
Across Broadway from The Inn at Saratoga and almost a hundredyears newer, a Holiday Inn boasts a swimming pool, allthe modern conveniences, and friendly service. In winter the roomsrun from $56 to $66. In mid season the rates are $76-$86 and duringtrack season rooms are $189 per night.
Where to Eat
Saratoga, compact though it is, offers all the eating places ofany city. There are, within walking distance along Broadway, aDunkin’ Donuts, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Friendly’s, Brueggers’Bagel Bakery, Subway and several pizza places. In addition tothese we have some favorites:
The Inn at Saratoga which was mentioned above as asuggested place to stay is also a recommended place to eat. Itis located on the south end of Broadway and the closest restaurantto the airport. Open only for dinner, this restaurant offers finecuisine in a Victorian atmosphere. Chicken Joseph is $13.50 andpoached salmon is $17.50. On Sundays the Inn offers a Jazz Brunchfrom 10 AM to 2 PM at $14.95. It is served buffet style with omeletsmade to order.
Just up the street is Lillian’s which is open for bothlunch and dinner. Lunch begins at 11 AM and it is priced from$3 to $9. Dinner is offered from 5 PM to 10 PM and prices rangefrom $12 to $16. This restaurant has both a children’s menu anda light menu on weekends.
Professor Moriarty’s is also located on Broadway. Itboasts a very cozy pub built around a solid cherry bar, rightin the heart of downtown Saratoga Springs. This eatery opens forlunch at 11:30 AM and prices range from $5-$8. Dinner begins at5 PM and the average cost is $50 per couple. Moriarty’s offersand Sunday brunch throughout the year at $9.95 which is servedfrom 11 AM to 3 PM. During track season this restaurant also servesbreakfast.
At the far end of Broadway at the corner of Maple Ave. andRock Street is the Olde Bryan Inn. This restaurant serveslunch and dinner from 11:30 AM to midnight (1 A.M. in season).Lunches are from $5 to 7.95and dinners are from $11.95 to $16.95.The menu offers a wide selection of pasta, chicken, fish and meats.The prime rib arrives at 4:30 PM. We think it’s the best mealin town.
All of the restaurants above accept credit cards.
Saratoga Springs Information
Area Code: 518
Zip Code: 12866
Saratoga County Airport: 885-5354
Richmor Aviation: 885-5354
Chamber of Commerce (518) 584-3255 494 Broadway Rental Cars
Enterprise Rent-a-Car 587-0687 Lodging
Holiday Inn-Saratoga Springs 584-4550 or (800)465-4329 Broadwayat Circular St.
The Inn at Saratoga 583-1890 231 Broadway
The Six Sisters Bed & Breakfast 583-1173 149 Union Ave.
The Westchester House 587-7613 102 Lincoln Ave., PO Box 944Recreation
Casino Museum 584-6920 Congress Park on Broadway
Lincoln Baths 584-2011
National Museum of Dance 584-2225 S. Broadway in SaratogaSpa State Park
National Museum of Racing 584-0400 Union Ave.
Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) 587-3330
Saratoga Race Course Thoroughbred Racing 584-6200 Union Ave.
Saratoga Harness Raceway Harness Racing 584-2110 Nelson Ave.