Thursday, August 29, 2013

Guest Post: American Pedigree Witnessed from Abroad

--Mark Cramer

   When a horse named Slow Pace is the front runner, something strange is happening
   For one thing to change, something else needs to stay the same. Either American breeding is getting better or European racing is becoming more Americanized. I suspect it’s the latter.
Horses bred in the USA are regularly running “better than their odds” in France. Let’s look at two consecutive racing days at Deauville, the Del Mar of France.
   In the first race on Monday, Aug. 26, Shepherd Gate (Kitten’s Joy) finished second by a neck at 10-1. That was a fibresand sprint and the Americans are supposed to excel in both those categories, so perhaps it should not be a surprise. On to the fifth race, Great George (Gulch) was only a head from the victory, beating out 14 other horses for the second prize, at 14-1 odds! This was still on fibresand, but it was the Euro classic distance of a mile and a half.
   The sixth race was a flat mile on grass and another Kitten’s Joy, Shirley’s Kitten, finished third at 21-1. Finally, in the seventh race, Auditor (Kingmambo) was second at 3/1 as third favorite in a six-horse field.
   None of these USA-breds won, but using the odds as an indicator, they had all over-performed. Quite a return on the show (placĂ©) parlay!
   The day before, Aug. 25, was not as clear at first sight, but still showed that horses bred in the USA had a positive impact value, partaking in more than their fair share of the pie. Two of the American-breds on that card provide the player with a significant profit if we just play them blindly in all their starts.
   One of them is New Outlook (Awesome Again), who defeated 15 others in the third race on the grass at a mile and a quarter, paying off at 20-1. If you had invested an equal amount on this horse in his 21 career races, you’d make the most aggressive hedge-fund operator blush, producing more than a 100% return on investment.
   The same day, in the G2 Grand Prix de Deauville, Slow Pace (that’s the name of the horse), helped along by Olivier Peslier, finished third on the grass at 1 9/16 miles. Euro surface, Euro distance, but American breeding (Slow pace is by Distorted Humor out a Seattle Slew mare). An equal amount bet on all of Slow Pace’s races would have yielded nearly a 100% profit.
   What I think is happening may be originating in France, where the pace of racing seems to have quickened considerably over the last decade. Slow Pace has an apt name for a horse that led the field all the way, putting away the likes of Cirrus des Aigles, and getting caught in the last 20 yards. If he had been 9-5, we might argue that he had hung at the wire. But at 20-1, you could say that the result was beyond expectations.  
   I recall years back when Ken Ramsey spoke of taking Kitten’s Joy to race in the Arc de Triomphe, only to be forced to back off when his charge had health problems. Within the next five or six years, we could see an American owner and trainer coming to France on the first Sunday of October and winning the Arc.
   In the meantime, if you just come over here to enjoy the racing without much time to handicap, my tip is to play the American-breds. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Buzz Chace: The Man in Horseman

--Christina Bossinakis

   Horse racing lost one of it’s most well known and respected figures when bloodstock agent Buzz Chace lost his fight against cancer Sunday morning. However, on a much more personal level, I lost a long-time friend and mentor. I first met Buzz very early on in my tenure at the TDN, circa 2002, at a sale in Kentucky. Honestly, I can’t remember exactly which one, but I do remember with clarity the encounter. After a brief introduction, Buzz happened to notice me running around like a chicken without a head as I was trying to figure who I should be talking to and what were the most salient points I should be focusing on. While it wasn’t as apparent to me then, it was evidently extremely obvious to others that I was as green and inexperienced as the young horses that had brought us together for the occasion. In what I would later learn to be typical of Buzz’s style, he pulled me up and assured me that all was fine and there was no need for panic. From that moment on, he always looked out for me, whether it was leading me to the ‘talking’ horses at a sale, directing me to the right people and making the appropriate introductions or simply clearing the way for me to do what I needed to do.
   Over the years, I helped him consolidate information in his sale’s catalogs, so I was fortunate enough to develop an ongoing relationship with him. Our encounters were increasingly frequent, whether it was a call, hanging out at the sales or races and even stopping by the house. I think those visits to Casa Chace are among the memories I cherish most because it was on those occasions I had the opportunity to see Buzz interact with his family, including Mrs. Chace (Mary Lou), his children and even his grandchildren. The Chaces were always so gracious and welcoming, inviting me to stay for lunch, a drink or even a chat. The funny thing about Buzz is when I would stop by or speak to him on the phone, he would always ask me where I was going next (truth be told, I am a traveling fool) and I really think he got a kick out of hearing what adventure I might be embarking upon. And his favorite parting line to me was always, “Stay out of trouble,” but the twinkle in his eye and his cheshire cat grin belied those words. The implication always seemed to me to be, "Life is for living, go and have a good time." That was Buzz.

Buzz Chace                                                        Horsephotos
    In recent years, I had the opportunity the hang out with Buzz at the racetrack or the sales, and I was always amused by what some people might think about seeing an older gentleman in company with a young woman. But that never concerned me because the reality was he always treated me like his child, informing me or opening my eyes to the ways of the racing and sales world. On several occasions, I had the pleasure of tagging along with Buzz at sales to look at some prospective purchases. Those sessions were worth their weight in gold. As a journalist, I’ve interviewed horsemen and women for years, and I’ve listened to them say that a horse had good balance or bone, a nice walk or a superior top line. Well, I finally learned what all that really meant. And Buzz always patiently explained. “Buzz, what’s a roach back?” He showed me. “Buzz, this yearling looks like he is really toeing out on the left side.” And to that, always validation, rewarding my observation. “Yes, Christina, he definitely is.” I was like a child learning a whole new vocabulary and perspective on things, and he was always patient and willing to fill in the gaps. I truly believe those lessons have made me a better turf writer and paddock reporter.

Freedom Child            A Coglianese
    A scouting session that I will surely never forget was on a bright, sunny morning two years ago at the Fasig-Tipton yearling sale in Saratoga. I bumped into Buzz, who had already scoped out all the babies on offer, and he asked me if I had time to go and see a yearling he particularly liked. He informed me that we were going to see a Malibu Moon colt that Kitty Taylor (Warrendale) was selling. As soon as Buzz walked up and asked to see the colt (by the way, it was the third time he went back to see him), Kitty immediately had the horse prepped and brought out for viewing. That was the power of Buzz. I have to admit, the colt was a real beauty, and I’m sure Buzz had seen plenty of them, but he was particularly smitten with this colt. Honestly, that was as giddy as I’ve ever seen him looking at a horse. Everything he had taught me was embodied in the colt. Upon the advice of Buzz, the striking chestnut ended up going for $350,000 to West Point Thoroughbreds (Buzz later said he thought the colt might have brought more with different placement in the catalog). Fast forward two years and that colt, named Freedom Child, was the runaway winner of Belmont’s GII Peter Pan S. It recently occurred to me that the whole experience was the graduation of all the lessons and instruction I had received over the years. I feel blessed that I was privileged enough to see the maestro in action. Harmonious perfection.
   For those who knew Buzz, and most in the industry do, he was a generous, kind and respectful man who had one of the best eyes for horseflesh in the business. Even though the uber-classy Unbridled’s Song put him squarely on the map as a leading bloodstock agent, he plucked out a plethora of other top-class racehorses that would make any horseman or woman worth their salt green with envy. But for me, it is all much more simple. He always treated me like a queen. He calmed or lifted me when he thought I needed it and has played a big part in the professional I am today. In an industry that remains quite male dominated, Buzz--without prejudice--guided me and gave me the chance to expand the breadth of my knowledge, so I could compete with anybody, man or woman, in this tough and often unflinching game. Yes, we lost a master horseman. Personally, I lost a pillar that has propped me up for many years. But Buzz, I think you would be very happy to know the foundation you’ve helped build is solid enough to carry me through any storm. Your legacy lives on, my friend. A heartfelt thank you..and farewell.

Pat Lang

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Guest Post: Filly Runs for the Little Girl Who Can't

Courtesy Dr. Stephen and Jan Sinatra

   Everyone thinks they have it so tough. But if we would actually take a moment to look at those around us and the challenges they have to overcome, we would see that we do not have it so bad.
Cecelia waits on the Suffolk Downs rail for her
namesake to run
Racing owner Stephen Sinatra’s granddaughter Cecelia is one of those who has it much tougher than most. But Cecelia never gives up, and neither did the horse named after her. Equine miracles are possible when love and energy between man and animal are exchanged. 
   The following is an almost unbelievable story of what happened when a horse named after a little girl received the natural care that only a grandfather could provide. The smile on Cecelia’s face in the winner’s circle was bright enough to light a city. It was the first time that almost 10-year-old Cecelia had been able to watch her namesake compete at the track. Considering that Run for Cecila was being powered by the spirit transmitted to her by the little girl she was named after, the other horses did not stand a chance that day. But no one realized that at the outset. It had taken years to get to this Godsend of a day.
   Dr. Stephen Sinatra is a doctor who has written several books on medicine. He also has been an owner and a breeder, breeding Grade II winner and Kentucky Derby entrant Desert Party among other successful horses. He has researched equine nutraceuticals and has conducted double blind studies to find ways to treat inflammation and bleeding without medication. His granddaughter Cecelia suffers from a rare neurological condition (affecting one in every 400,000 people) that makes it very difficult for her to use her legs. Walking has become so difficult that she now relies on her wheelchair when walking more than short distances. 
   Instead of being angry and wondering "why me?" little Cecelia is thankful for what she does have.  Her uplifting spirit was magnified one-thousand fold in the winner’s circle recently at Suffolk Downs as the picture of a lifetime was taken.
   This story begins three years ago when Sinatra consulted his breeding partner and bloodstock consultant David Smith as to which one of his horses had the best breeding. Cecelia had once actually asked her grandfather to name a dog after her. When he said he would name a horse for her instead, she practically jumped for joy. Sinatra planned to keep that promise.
   He explained to Smith that his granddaughter had recently begun to demonstrate the effects of a neurological condition. Nonetheless, cheerful Cecelia was a motivator, oftentimes reassuring others about her deteriorating issues with walking and balance. In fact a few years back, then 6-year-old Cecelia calmly reported, "I can't run, and I can't skip, but it's okay Grandma."
   The teachers at her all-girl Catholic school and the dance classes that she would eventually have to give up were all inspired. Her physical therapy team--which administers hippotherapy weekly--continually report admiration for her attitude as well. For example, picture Cecelia's mother and grandmother with tear-filled eyes as they watched her final dance recital. Meanwhile, Cecelia reveled in her on-stage seated position while the other girls danced around her. The little girl beamed with delight that she was "the star" that her teacher had told her she would be that Saturday. As her dad would say that afternoon, "Why are you crying? She's having a ball!"
   This brave and enduring little girl had shown a love for horses at an early age while watching the movie "Dreamer" about a little girl who loves and cares for a busted-up horse. At the time, Cecelia was sitting on the couch with a fractured leg of her own. When the grand finale race scene occurred in the movie, Jan witnessed her casted granddaughter jumping up and down, excitedly proclaiming, "We won! We won!" Cecelia's grandmother tried to calm her jubilant grandchild so she wouldn't tumble off the sofa; to the then 4-year-old Cecelia, the story was real life. But, wins like that usually happen only in the movies, right?
   With the guidance of David Smith, the Sinatras finally selected a half-sister to multiple Grade I winner Subordination by Awesome Again a few years later. They named the horse Run for Cecila and reassured their little girl not to worry: the horse would run for her. Cecelia was so delighted that she didn't even care that the Jockey Club got the wrong info, and would spell the filly's name 'Cecila.'
   But as the equine Cecelia began training at two, it soon became obvious that something just was not right. Cecelia's namesake was not pushing off of her back legs. At first, it was believed that she suffered from shin splints. However, this was soon dismissed. Many experts looked at the horse, but none could determine what was afflicting her. The Florida trainer Sinatra employed at the time wanted to pin fire the young horse. Sinatra passed on the pin firing idea and sought other possible solutions, including a more precise diagnosis. 
   It was eventually discovered that the horse suffered from neurological problems-- just like her namesake--and it was affecting her ability to bear weight on her back legs. At this point, neither the horse nor the child were able to run. It was both perplexing and heartbreaking. So, Sinatra, Smith and Corby Caiazzo--farm manager and trainer at Berkeley Training Center in Darlington, Maryland--went to Florida's Gulfstream Park to see the filly and determine possible treatments for her condition.  
   After a dismal attempt at Monomouth Park, the horse was taken out of training and spent the next eight months healing under Caiazzo’s watchful gaze. Sinatra started to give the horse the equine supplements he had developed to reduce inflammation, and then came across an article about tocotrienols reversing neurological disease in the equine. He contacted the people in Asia who manufactured the product, and was told the vitamin was also successful in healing other animals, including dogs recovering from strokes. He ordered three quarts to be shipped from Asia and a tablespoon of this (1,000 times the power of traditional Vitamin E) was given to the filly each day. The horse responded to the treatment to the point of being able to jog, and then breeze. Eventually, Caiazzo had Run for Cecila strong enough to be able to return to the racetrack. 
   Meanwhile, the human Cecelia was undergoing therapy as well. The horse she had not yet met was never far out of her mind. Her grandmother texted and emailed photos. Cecelia kept a picture of the horse on her dresser. Her parents gave her the supplement program designed for her by her grandfather, who added tocotrienols after reviewing the research. Cecelia began undergoing equine therapy where she rode on the back of an older horse, and continued in physical therapy weekly. When one of her doctors commended her hippotherapy, she objected, "But I want to ride my own horse."
   In her very first race on the dirt at Gulfstream, the filly lost by 24 1/4 lengths. She tried next at Monmouth, losing by 28 1/4 lengths. After approximately 11 months off,  with more TLC, acupuncture, the Thorpe Institute Equiscope, and massage, along with Sinatra's equine supplements, including larger doses of tocotrienols, the filly returned at Parx with another dismal defeat: last beaten 17 1/2 lengths. She was switched to the turf was well-beaten at Atlantic City, then Delaware, then Colonial and again at Parx. It seemed Sinatra's only hope was relegating his non-winning filly to the role of broodmare and that his dream of seeing his granddaughter witness the horse named after her win like Dreamer would never be fulfilled.
   But Philadelphia-based trainer Ned Allard had one more prospect before they gave up. He suggested that Suffolk Downs might be the place for Cecila to finally prove herself and break her maiden. So, Sinatra contacted another trainer he knew who had a barn up at Suffolk. Bill Sienkewicz listened carefully. He agreed with Sinatra to give the filly one more try. Sienkiewicz and Allard had a long history of collaboration, and so the plan was hatched. Run for Cecila was shipped for one more round of training--and a few more weeks of her supplements--to face a field she might have a chance to compete against.   
   After three weeks of training with the Sienkewicz barn, the horse was ready, but her trainer couldn't seem to find the right spot. The correct races just wouldn't fill. Then, Run for Cecila finally got her shot July 27, running against the boys. Sinatra was not very hopeful, but since the race was close to his Connecticut home, he decided to ask his Rhode Island-based granddaughter to go to the racetrack to finally meet the horse named after her--and watch her run. The horse and the girl had always been too many miles apart to meet before.
   Sinatra called ahead to make sure that a child in a wheelchair could attend the races and would be able to view the track, etc. The granddaughter’s family had scheduling conflicts that almost prevented them from being at the racetrack that day. Cecelia’s father even got a speeding ticket en route to making sure his daughter saw her horse run. Parents and child arrived about an hour before the post time for the 7th race. Cecelia rode the elevator to the dining area above the paddock and told her grandmother how happy she was to be there. The usual chatterbox Cecelia was soon so overwhelmed with all that was going on that she grew quiet, taking in her first experience of the racetrack.
   Originally scheduled for turf, rain had forced the maiden special weight to a mile on the main track. While she would benefit from scratches by several of her competiros, this also meant that Run for Cecila would have to return the surface over which she had never run within 17 1/2 lengths of a winner. These factors did not offer much hope for a win that day. 
Sienkewicz, Cecelia and Dr. Sinatra
   Since Sienkewicz had another entrant in the race, Sinatra spoke to the jockey himself in the paddock before the race. After he had described Run for Cecila’s past races, jockey Tammy Piermarini commented, “This horse appears to be a pack horse.” That made sense. The filly especially loved other horses in the barn, even peeking through the wood slats just to watch them.  "You run your race," Sinatra told the rider. He also told Piermarini about the granddaughter he'd named Run for Cecila for. Sinatra pointed to the glassed-in section above the saddling area and the jockey looked up to see the little girl in the bright yellow wheelchair. The jockey waved from her mount. Cecelia loved that her horse had a female jockey. Piermarini was a mother of three and understood how special the day was for young Cecelia. Surely, her intention as well helped shift the filly's that day.
   While the horses warmed up on the racetrack, Sienkewicz's friend Josie helped Jan to rush the little girl, her family, and her brightly colored, but cumbersome wheelchair through the crowd, on and off of the elevator, and down to the rail to meet up with Sinatra. "No problem," proclaimed Josie about her gallant efforts. "I work at a hospital. And this is what racing is really all about!"
   The stars were starting to align for a little girl that day. 
   Finally, Cecelia would meet the horse named after her and watch her run. A lady on the rail with her children heard Cecelia exclaim to Jan, “Grandma, there is my horse!” The lady asked Jan if the horse was indeed Cecelia’s. The proud grandmother confirmed that it was. The lady gathered up her girls and ran to the window to buy parimutuel tickets before the race started. Run for Cecila was the last horse loaded and as she was led into the gate, her jockey brought her toward the rail, allowing Cecelia to come face-to-face with her filly. The jockey looked at the girl sitting on the rail and waved again as the entire family waved back and wished her luck.
   The race started and Run for Cecila was forced five wide into the first turn. Sinatra just hoped the horse would not be embarrassed in front of Cecelia and her parents. The filly was the 10 horse, but the family couldn't see her number on the board. Things were looking dim. But then, at the eighth pole, the 5-2 shot took over. She faced two challengers nearing the line, but Run for Cecila lunged forward at the wire to score by a neck. Sienkewicz's other entrant, C F's Bullet, was second.
   The emotion that followed can’t be described in words. The horse that had never run well before overcame a return to dirt, facing the boys and a wide trip to win. Finally, the filly "got it" that the race track wasn't about just running out there with her friends. It was about winning for a little girl. It was as if she was empowered by the spirit of the little girl that she was named after. Cecelia was jumping in her wheelchair as everyone else leapt in the air, screamed for joy, cried for joy, and congratulated the little girl on her win. Even their new lady-friend on the rail and her little girls ran over to congratulate and hug them!
   As Dr. Sinatra quickly wheeled Cecelia toward the nearby winner’s circle, the track attendant stood
Cecelia's father Dan Egan carries
her to the winner's circle
firm that no wheelchairs were allowed inside. So, Cecelia’s father quickly picked her up. There was no way his little girl was going to miss getting her picture taken with the horse that on that special Saturday ran for the little girl who can’t. The family shared the picture of a lifetime. As far as the Sinatra's were concerned, it was better than realizing their fantasy of winning the Kentucky Derby!         
 Meanwhile, Sinatra's cell phone kept going off. Friends who knew the horse's story shared in the joy from across the many miles. They were all in tears--Sinatra's partner Bill Niarakis, David Smith, his trainers, his farm owners, family and friends. They had all found a place to watch the race from their various vantage points that day. They'd all seen the filly meet the little girl at the rail. All agreed that it was nothing short of a miracle. Both Cecelias were queens for the day. 
   As the Sinatras watched the replay on a monitor inside, the owner-breeder excitedly pointed out  the great ride to his trainer. A man nearby looked over at the group as he heard Sinatra speak of the great job Piermarini did riding their horse and said, "That's my wife!" Sienkewicz turned, smiled and introduced Sinatra to Piermarini's husband, who also serves as her agent. Owner and trainer thanked the man and all shared in the day's amazing events. More tears were shed.
   Both a horse and a girl suffer from neurological problems. The doctor who named the horse after his granddaughter discovered a supplement that allowed the horse to run as she had never been able to before. Did Dr. Sinatra discover a supplement that may help his granddaughter as well? Only time will answer this question, but in today’s world of quick fixes, this story shows the healing power of love, determination, and a positive spirit. Few of us have a more positive spirit than a young lady named Cecelia. 
   Do you believe in miracles? Dr. Sinatra sure does. He believes his relentless search to fix Run for Cecila led to a miracle seen on the racetrack at Suffolk. In his heart, he is praying for an even bigger miracle.  He knows in his heart that someday he may see Cecelia running on the playground and even beating the boys, just like her namesake.

Chip Bott

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Summer of Thoroughbreds. Colby: One Month Later

Colby: July 6, 2013
 In June, I shared the story of Colby, a 4-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (click here to see intake photos and read about him) in the care of Helping Hearts Equine Rescue. My "summer of Thoroughbreds" has been so busy that I am just now finding time to share updated photos of Colby, taken on July 6.
Colby: May 25, 2013
What a difference a month makes!
Colby: July 6, 2013
Colby: May 25, 2013
Colby: July 6, 2013
As Colby get the nutrition he needs, he gains weight and muscle and his coat blooms. Gone are the long winter guard hairs, abscessed feet, and patchy coat. His rainrot and skin issues are under control with the help of medicated baths and daily grooming. He is fed supplements to help him maintain a healthy coat and hooves and support his young joints during his rehabilitation.
Colby: July 6, 2013
After Colby completed his quarantine, he was turned out with some equine friends. He is handled daily and receives training in hand, but his training under saddle will not begin until he is fully rehabilitated. In the meantime, he was quite happy to show off for me during a quick photo session.
Colby: July 6, 2013
Colby: July 6, 2013
He even showed off his potential when he cut across the arena and did an impromptu jump over the arena gate.
Colby: July 6, 2013
Colby looks great in July, but just wait until you see how he looks now. Stay tuned for more updates on this spirited youngster.

If you're interested in donating to the rescue for Colby's care, you can send a Paypal donation to, or visit the HHER website for other donation options. HHER is a 501(c)(3) charity, and horses like Colby are nursed back to health through the generosity of donations and the commitment of dedicated volunteers.

Please check back for new photos and updates about Colby, as well as other Thoroughbreds I meet this summer.

- Sarah Andrew

Monday, August 12, 2013

Guest Post: Saratoga Showcase Lives Up to its Name

--Carly Silver

   As another summer day dawned bright and clear in Connecticut, I prepped myself for
the however-many-annual Father/Daughter Saratoga Road Trip, my favorite trip of the year. This year’s edition would take place on a beautiful Sunday, where the sun would shine on us and (hopefully) my chosen picks in whatever races we attended at the Spa.
   After a scenic ride up the Taconic State Parkway, our first stops were, as always, the Saratoga Olive Oil Company--try their infused balsamics on a delicious
salad--and the Lyrical Ballad Bookstore. There, I picked up a copy of Edward L. Bowen’s Legacies of the Turf, Volume 1: A Century of Great Thoroughbred Breeders.
Bowen had written some of my favorite books on Thoroughbred pedigrees, including Dynasties and Matriarchs, so I was engrossed in this volume.
   Out of the blue, a woman standing nearby mentioned that she used to work at Eclipse Press with Bowen; she introduced herself as Rena Mitchell, wife of Eric
Mitchell, editor-in-chief of The Blood-Horse. She kindly invited me to meet her husband and son; for me, it was a wonderful moment. I had written a column for the magazine’s website 10 years ago--when I was 13--called “Teen Tracks,” in which I analyzed the pedigrees of various contenders for major races. In a way, this was like coming full circle.
   I was particularly interested in seeing Saratoga’s Uniquely New York Showcase, which billed itself as a 150th anniversary showcase of “products made
exclusively in New York State.” As vibrant as Saratoga is, I was afraid that its “showcase” would be nothing more than a few local T-shirts and apples from last
fall. Let’s just say that visiting Aqueduct’s “events” last fall and winter hadn’t done my impressions of tracks’ promotional opportunities any favors.
   As we entered the Saratoga lawn, I was pleased, as always, with the day’s turnout. Something about the Spa--whether it’s the gorgeous location, the racing, or
something else--always attracts more visitors than the average track. Where else can you get a small-town ambiance, world-class horse racing, and high-society folks that pop up for anything from a maiden race to a Grade I stakes?
   The Uniquely New York Showcase itself was rather inconveniently placed, shunted all the way to the left corner of the grandstand area. I must admit, though, that the lawn was so packed that there wasn’t anywhere else track officials could have put yet another tent, complete with thirteen booths and vendors. After finally finding the Showcase area, I was prepared for a small handful of tourists to be rifling through discounted tank tops--and that was it.
   To my surprise, there was a lot more going on than just a few small booths and barely any business. There were dozens of folks milling around, tasting popcorn samples, getting a whiff of scented candles, and taking photos. The food that vendors were selling looked fresh and smelled delicious. The merchandise was, indeed, unique. Who wouldn’t want a piece of scrumptious maple candy, from local syrup harvested right around the corner, or delicacies like chocolate-covered bacon? Well, the latter is up for debate, but the point remains. Whether or not the merchandise was unique to New York in and of itself--let’s face it, candles aren’t an Empire State-only product--is debatable, but kudos to NYRA for living up to its name. Not only is it promoting great racing at Saratoga, but the products there are true New York-breds... and the public took note.
   The chocolate-covered bacon was a particular draw. It’s good that I’m not kosher, I thought as I tasted a sample piece, overcoming my initial revulsion at the concept of the snack. It was surprisingly tasty, combining salty crunchiness with the sweetness of the chocolate and melting in my mouth but, ultimately, I chose against buying any, mentally citing not wanting elevated cholesterol in my twenties if I decided to devour bag after bag.
   I then meandered over to Peanut Principle. Its fun, bright ambiance attracted a lot of
RAD Soaps booth
young fans; my dad even picked up a peanut from those sample legumes strewn across the countertop, cracked it, and ate it. I migrated to RAD Soaps, whose floral hand creams and handcrafted body soaps were on my to-buy list. Reluctantly, I drew myself away from that booth, knowing I already owned a hand lotion too many.
   All in all, I found myself impressed and surprised by the Showcase’s showings. After the track’s visitors found the Showcase tent, they flocked to it in droves. The booths had varied and quality offerings, which did, indeed, showcase local talent. Kudos to Saratoga for pulling off a wonderfully marketable market.