Racing fan, occasional poet, Saratoga Springs resident, long-time Saratoga Special supporter and friend of Santa Claus, Bob Giordano penned this twist on the famous “A Visit from St. Nicholas” story by Clement Clarke Moore. Enjoy.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, all’s quiet at the track,
The stalls were all empty, they’ve took all the tack.
Hoof prints and leaves are now covered with snow,
The starting gate’s empty, there’s no one to load.
The barn cats are nestled in the corner of the shed,
With dreams of juicy mice dancing in their heads.
The backstretch dorms are empty, no one in the beds,
The grooms and hot walkers have moved on with their threads.
And the stands – they are silent, not a sound to be heard,
No Durkin, No Collmus, no cheer, no discouraging word.
The guards, they stood watching over the place –
With the horses all gone it was a much slower pace.
They were trying to stay warm in their tiny little shacks,
Their feet on the desks, their chairs leaning back.
When a bright red glow warmed the air all around,
They jumped to their feet when they heard a strange sound.
The sound of bells, jingling loud across the night sky,
A quick check said no alarm, nothing awry.
A full moon hung low over Barn 85,
And across its bright face an object did fly.
Not a plane, not a bird, but a team of reindeer,
Pulling a sleigh and a plump bearded rider full of good cheer.
Across Union Avenue his coursers they flew,
Over the Grandstand, the infield, the barns, and Clare Court too.
He looped to his right, toward the Morning Line gap,
Then a left to the frontside to check the toys in his sack.
He landed in the paddock and leapt to the ground,
And felt each reindeer hoof to make sure it was sound.
A quick check of the toys showed they were OK,
So he jumped back to his seat to get underway.
He clucked to the reindeer, jiggled the reins, gave his whip a quick crack,
and jogged down Champions Way on the way to the track.
A quick left turn, a snap of the reins, past the Winner’s Circle they sped,
And with a whistle and a shout back to the sky went the team and the sled.
The Spirits of the Spa – Sunny Jim, The Chief, Odom, Voss, and the like,
Watched it all from the old roofline as the little team took flight.
And they heard him exclaim as he turned and looked back:
“All’s well Saratoga! I’ll be back for the track!”