Jul 23, 2008


In August of l969 I am off to Saratoga for the first time. I take some vacation time from the New Orleans States-Item sports pages to discuss more gainful employment with the Morning Telegraph/Daily Racing Form.

My sister Mary wonders if I am going to the big rock concert. “What concert?”, I ask, too absorbed with Thoroughbred fantasies of the spa to consider what else might be going down.

“It’s up in Woodstock, not far from Saratoga. You ought to check it out.”

My wife and I head for Manhattan for an interview with Saul Rosen, editor in chief of Triangle Publications. We meet for a couple of hours at Triangle offices on West 52nd St.
It goes well.
“I’ll be back in touch” says Saul. He then sends us off to dinner at Broadway Joe’s and tickets to my first Broadway musical experience-Purlie, starring Melba Moore.

The next morning we head North to Saratoga. Radio reports of the Woodstock Festival provide a little temptation. After all, we’re talking Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Richie Havens, The Who, Crosby, Wills, Nash and Young, and on and on.

We briefly consider a detour for at least a “look see” at Woodstock but the pouring rain decides the issue and we are back on Robert Frost’s Road Not Taken, fully aware that Saratoga would have its share of rich folks who might indeed Pave Paradise and Put Up a Parking lot.

Class warfare aside, Saragota is too good to be true. We took a place on Lake George and waited for the rain to stop. It never did. No matter, we were in Saratoga on Travers day in a good seat arranged by the fatherly Mr. Rosen. He even instructed Joe Hirsch to treat us to dinner at the Wishing Well.

Arts and Letters is the heavy Travers favorite and we parlay our meager winnings on his nose at even money or so. Braulio Baeza brings him home in track record time in a sea of slop. The jockey has the most elegant posture on a horse that I have seen then or since. Owner-breeder Paul Mellon looks like he’s having fun. We’ll meet again in 1992 in the Belmont Park winner’s circle after Sea Hero wins the Champagne on his way to a Kentucky Derby win. I spent 25 years as a television commentator and that brief moment with Mellon and trainer Mack Miller was the pinnacle.

Saul did get back in touch, five months later, and he sent me off to Vancouver. In those days it seemed like one adventure after another. There are more stories for another day.