Yesterday was the Women’s Expo at Saratoga; out in the backyard near the Big Red Spring, a variety of vendors set up tables to offer their services to the female fans who, according to NYRA, “comprise nearly half the fan base at Saratoga Race Course.”
A stroll around the tent revealed an unofficial count of four tables devoted to female health; three focusing on various beauty products; two on home décor; and one each on education and racing partnership.
The promised table on women in racing was prominently set up, and staffed by Marion Altieri, a racing writer whose work is featured at Horserace Insider; Ronnie, a former groom for Bruce Levine (to whom I offer profuse apologies because I can’t read my own writing and can’t decipher her last name); Susan Hamlin, an animal whisperer; and painter Rumara Jewett.
According to Altieri, also expected to attend were jockey Maylan Studart; owner Anne Buxton; and Kate Veitch, exercise rider and public relations person for D. Wayne Lukas. Traffic to the table was “medium,” said Altieri.
A number of other females were directly involved in the racing on Wednesday, as eight of the ten carded races were for fillies and mares, including the Grade II Adirondack for two-year-old fillies, run for the first time in 1901.
The male counterpart, the Saratoga Special, also first run in 1901, is the feature today. No filly has ever won the Saratoga Special, but one made the colts work for the victory in the very first running.
Owned by John E. Madden, Blue Girl (Sir Dixon – Bonnie Blue (Hindoo)) had already beaten colts three times by the time the Saratoga meet started. On May 4th, she won the Juvenile Stakes at Morris Park “handily by two lengths”; on May 24th at Morris Park, she won the Eclipse Stakes “cleverly by a length and a half”; and on June 8th at Morris Park, she won the Great American Stakes “ridden out by two lengths.”
Given her success against males, one needn’t wonder why her owner chose to enter her in the Saratoga Special instead of in the Adirondack, and with an eighth of a mile left in the race, Mr. Madden likely thought that he’d pocket the $15,500 winner-take-all prize and bring home the silver trophy awarded to the winner of the Special.
But William C. Whitney’s Goldsmith took a run at the filly, and despite swerving in deep stretch, he got past her and won by a head, denying Blue Girl the victory in that first Saratoga Special.
Blue Girl was reportedly the co-champion two-year-old filly in 1901 (leading one to wonder just what exactly she would have needed to do claim the crown for herself). She won the Ladies’ Handicap at three, and reportedly the Gazelle, en route to being named champion three-year-old filly.