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IN THE PADDOCK | by Tom Law

A different opening day

Posted by on in In the Paddock

The line stretched at least 20 deep into the parking lot. The woman in front of us, with her two adolescent and thankfully well-behaved children, heard the surprise in our voices at the length of said line.

“It’s opening day. You can’t miss opening day.”

No, you can’t.

And no, we were not talking about opening day at Saratoga Race Course. Everyone knows that’s a few months away. It’s not opening day for the Saratoga Little League either, or maybe it was. We couldn’t tell Friday night, since there weren’t any ballplayers in their uniforms in the line.

The line was formed in the parking lot at 70 West Avenue, on the “other side of the tracks” (if they still existed) and on the west side of Saratoga, almost on the corner of West and Washington Street.

Friday was opening day for another Saratoga institution: Humpty Dumpty.

If you’ve never been you need to go. We needed to go Friday night, a few hours after the appropriately named Ice Cream Silence won the Doubledogdare Stakes hundreds of miles away at Keeneland.

Alright, that might be a stretch. The place is vintage Americana though and a place you can get a couple soft ice cream cones for less than 5 bucks. It’s kind of a welcome respite in this ever-changing place, which has so many new buildings you’d think someone had an ax to grind with the sun and were trying to block it out.

Maybe I’m a little biased. I grew up right around the corner, attended school with the kids of the owners, went there after ball games and always tried to make a trips there at least once while visiting Saratoga over the years as a summertime racing tourist.

It’s a great place to get you thinking about summer, or spring.

Thinking about starting over. A fresh start. An opening.

Like the lady said, you just can’t miss opening day.

The racing bug bit Tom Law in his formative teenage years, as it often does to those who grow up in Saratoga Springs. Other sports that involve finish lines were equally compelling—specifically cross country running and track and field—and the two intertwined at different points of his life, sometimes so much he was forced to leave The Pink Sheet and Daily Racing Form at home when they become a distraction during cross country practice warm-ups at Saratoga High. The distraction eventually became a career and it took him from a sports writing job at The Saratogian, where he covered racing seasonally in upstate New York to an award-winning career as a writer and editor for Thoroughbred Times in Lexington, Kentucky. Tom is managing editor of ST Publishing, Inc., parent company of the thisishorseracing.com Internet site, and plans to relocate to his hometown in early April.

Comments

  • Brian R. Bishop Tuesday, 07 May 2013

    Tom,
    What a great tribute to a business which has been my parent's labor of love for nearly 40 years. Saratoga has changed a lot since our high school days but I too am glad that there are still some places that remain the same. Thank you so much for the post I know that they were very touched by it.
    Warmest Regards!

  • Tom Law Tuesday, 21 May 2013

    Hey Brian, thanks for your kind words and for reading and passing it along! I can't wait for my next trip to West Ave!

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