Ever since moving to New York City we have been trying to learn as much as we can about the history of the city and the surrounding area. One of our favorite go to TV shows is the PBS series “Treasures of New York”. Recently we watched a piece on the town of Saratoga Springs and the famous Saratoga Racetrack. We fell in love with the thoroughbred horse racing track’s story and wonderful history. It opened in 1863 and is the second oldest track in the country and the oldest sporting venue of any kind in the country! As we often do we said to ourselves, “We need to go there”.
Fast forward a few months and I’m surfing the web for concerts in the area and low and behold James Taylor is performing in Saratoga Springs. We are so there! I snatch up fan club seats (yes I’m a fan club member) and start looking for a place to stay. I come across a hotel walking distance from the performing arts venue. How could I not book a room there?
Gideon Putnam Resort and Spa is actually located in the Saratoga Spa State Park. It is 75 years old and surrounded by beautiful walking trails, a golf coarse, and natural mineral baths. The hotel itself has kept its original charm in the architecture and design. It blends the old and new perfectly.
Little did we know when we booked our stay that it was the opening weekend of horse racing at Saratoga Race Track!! The town was hosting one big party for everyone, the “Hats Off to Saratoga” Music Festival. Friday night the main drag downtown, Broadway, was sectioned off and every other block or so there was a live band. All genres were represented, blues, indy-pop, alt. rock, barbershop and rock ‘n’ roll. We happened to catch a bit of The El Dorados.
Saturday morning we decided to check out the racetrack. It was opening day, why not? The first thing we noticed as we waited in the lobby for the shuttle was I most likely was going to be the only one without a hat, and I was going to be underdressed. There was an amazing hat shop in the hotel lobby and a great display case of hats. Unfortunately they were way out of my price range so I took my chances and went without.
The second sign was the four women who we rode in the shuttle with to the racetrack. They were “dressed to kill”. I mean it was like they were going to the Kentucky Derby. At least that’s what I was thinking. I took a picture of them in front of the entrance to the racetrack. They had matching hats for their dresses as well. Looking around it was about 50/50 on who was decked out and who was dressed for comfort. I was safe dressed in my shorts and tee shirt.
What an amazing venue. You could feel the history just walking into the place. Men in coat and tie with ladies in beautiful dresses and hats to match. We wandered into the betting area and just stood and looked around. People sitting with their papers marking their choices, others were standing at the windows placing their bets. We decided to place a bet on a race. We don’t know a thing about horse racing so we decide to guess. We picked the 4th horse in the second race to win. That’s it, $2 to win, only to win.
We walk around to the track, and were able to get right up to the railing.
So nervous…..wait…there’s an inner grass/turf track as well, and that is where “our” race is…ok..
Duooooohhhh….he came in 3rd!!!!!! Oh well. Ok, off to find food.
Would you look there…Poutine! And not just one kind either.
If you’ve never heard of Poutine then get ready to hear of, IMO, a stomach churning, and in my sons’ and husband’s opinion delicious meal. It’s French fries, gravy and cheese curds all together. But wait! Look at all those other options available!!
Um….I’ll pass and get something else thank you. Mac n’ Cheese with bacon tasted much better!
After our lunch we walked back over to the track and decided to bet on good ol’ number 4 again in the next two races to win, place or show. We figured we’d cover all three this time. Well, not so lucky. In race 5, number 4 came in second to last. In race 6, the number 4 horse tripped and threw the jockey who then had to be carried off the track in an ambulance. We stopped betting after that. We decided we were bad luck. One last thought though…the big stakes race of the weekend, the #4 horse won….
On our way out we strolled around the grounds and checked out the picnic area. It reminded us of our swim team days and those awful two day meets where you’re there from 7:30 am until 5:00 pm. Tents, people and picnic tables were everywhere. One group even had a bar! Now I wish we had one of those at the swim meets!
Saw this on the way out…..if only I had seen it when we were looking for food, but somehow it wouldn’t have been right to have a Shake Shack burger at the racetrack.
Saturday night we walked over to the Performing Arts Center to see James Taylor. He never disappoints. The sax player in the band that night was “Blue” Lou Marini from The Blues Brothers, and Blood Sweat & Tears among other bands. Great evening!
My husband wanted to share a walk he discovered on his morning walkabouts, so as we drove out we paused by a path leading into the woods. It was like entering another world. That’s kind of how we felt staying at Gideon Putnam Hotel. We will definitely return and take more walks into the forest as well as try a soak in the healing mineral baths.