Storm City

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Penelope Miller got stuck at Ben & Jerry’s when the city lost power one day in Saratoga. Saturday morning, she cackled with delight about the day she was the kid in the candy store. You know the storms here, the ones that come out of nowhere, like they’re mad at you, Wizard-of-Oz wind, slamming rain, filling up the trough near the Parting Glass and blowing out the power grid. It’s something about the mountains.

We’ve survived all of them, never missing an issue, but did run an extension cord out of the back of our office/house and into the mud room of a neighbor we hadn’t met but somehow, savior-like, had power (shout out to Joanie Morris for that one). And, yes, we skipped one issue when Hurricane Something blew into town the night after the Travers. Joe tried to drive home and wound up stuck in a hotel somewhere in New Jersey, they canceled the Sunday card and we canceled the Sunday issue. Advertisers, we owe you one.

As rain looms in the forecast tonight and thunderstorms hover on the horizon for next week, perhaps, it’s time to think about where you would want to get stuck, you know, like a fire drill, if and when the power goes out in Saratoga. From experience, Miller thought Ben & Jerry’s was the best choice and she’s probably right. Dean Roethemeier expounded on the notion, “What if they said they had to get rid of all the ice cream before it melted?” Everybody cackled.

With that in mind, here are some ideas…

For the bookworm, that’s easy. Lyrical Ballad. They’ve stacked books higher and thicker than stoopers’ stacks after a 14-race card. The books come from all eras, cover all genres, include all authors and, at least as far as I can tell, they’re only loosely classified in sections, which is even better if you’re killing time. My son, Miles, 9, found a pull-out, fold-out, accordion-style Shakespeare book a few summers ago, that’s kept him busy for years. For me, I’ll hunker down in the pie-wedge between the doorway and the vault, where the racing books reside. You can find anything in there, from a box of old Saratoga programs, the thin old-school sliders from the 70s, to books written by Palmer, Murray, Hovdey and authors you didn’t even know wrote about horses. I found a Clancy (not Tom) in there once, although that might send you back out in the rain. As lightning strikes, thunder rumbles, rain lashes and water runs down Phila Street like it’s late for spring sowing, Lyrical Ballad will offer the perfect shelter, the perfect escape.

For shoppers and souvenir hunters, Impressions has it all – Saratoga and horse racing are the main themes, they might even have the old “My friend went to Saratoga and all I got was this lousy T-shirt” T-shirt. While on Broadway, dodge the raindrops and check out Embrace the Race’s new store. You’ll finish your Christmas shopping in August.

For the racetrackers, the track of course. Remember Birdstone’s Travers? You could see it looming, the race somehow slid under a guillotine, I wound up trapped in the grandstand by the winner’s circle to watch the race, I think Nick Zito was in there too, you could not move, the lights of the finish line were the only beacon. Some fled, most waited. How about the City Zip/Yonaguska Hopeful? Same thing, you could see the storm coming and a had a moment of choice, stay or go, they jogged horses out of the paddock for the Hopeful, those two landed on the line together and then it was bedlam, some ran, the diehards stayed, hey, where else would you want to be? When the storm passed and we could walk home, it was actually lighter than when they ran the Hopeful. And, if you’re bored, ask Joe about being here for Little Current, Holding Pattern and Chris Evert in the Travers.

For beer drinkers, Henry Street Taproom, that’s a slam dunk, you can spin the wheel of indecision until you don’t know if you’re inside or out. Or, for old time’s sake, stop by the Parting Glass, you’ll feel like you never left.

For the readers of The Special, come to our office in the old feed store next to Fasig-Tipton. Hell, every day feels like we’re waiting out a rain delay, in a cave, clock ticking, this won’t be anything new. We’ll put you to work, you can proofread, write a column or dive into the archives, we have every issue, either in bound editions or on the computer, well, the electricity’s off, which means the Internet is down, so wade into the bound editions – you can actually read about Birdstone’s Travers from 2004.

It went like this. The first raindrop fell at 5:57. The seven Travers runners went in the gate at 6:21 – in virtual darkness. Rain pelted down, the skies were Ichabod Crane-dark, the infield fountain was blowing sideways. And 2:02.45 later, the Belmont Stakes, run 12 weeks earlier, suddenly got a lot easier to take…

Ah, never mind, I’ll see you at Ben & Jerry’s.