Timeline: 1870-1879



By ALLAN CARTER, Historian, National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame

Saratoga Race Course in the 1870s was dominated by four future Hall of Fame inductees: Harry Bassett, Longfellow, Parole, and Duke of Magenta. Probably the most memorable race of that time period was the 1872 Saratoga Cup in which Harry Bassett defeated Longfellow by a length while setting a new American record of 3:59 for the 2¼ mile distance. Harry Basset's win was diminished when it was discovered that Longfellow ran most of the race as a cripple when his left front shoe flipped over and became imbedded in his foot. It was Longfellow's final race.

Other notable events during this time period was the inaugural running of the Alabama on July 19, 1872 and the death of the track's founder, John Morrissey, at the age of 47, at the Adelphi Hotel in Saratoga on May, 1878.

At the start of the decade, Morrissey opened his Club House (now the Canfield Casino). Other major events in town included a lecture by Frederick Douglass (1870), the first college regatta on Saratoga Lake (1871), the opening of the United States (1874) and Adelphi (1877) hotels and the redesign of Congress Park (1875).

August 13, 1870

Harry Bassett wins the Kentucky Stakes. He was a champion at two and three, and was undefeated in nine races as a 3-year-old in 1871.



John Morrissey opens the Saratoga Club House (now the Canfield Casino in Congress Park). Morrissey selected a location on East Congress Street to build what he hoped to be the most elaborate and exclusive gambling casino in the world. He runs it successfully until his death in 1878.


Photo circa 1871.


The spouting spring was drilled at Geyserville. Geyserville referred to the area that is today Spa State Park. While some springs occurred naturally, many were drilled by entrepreneurs hoping to gain wealth from the mineral waters.



Frederick Douglass lectures in Saratoga Springs on the support of the 15th amendment to allow black men the right to vote.

July 14, 1871

Longfellow wins the Saratoga Cup. He was the first equine hero in America after the Civil War, and was known for his rivalry with Harry Bassett.


August 16, 1871

Harry Bassett wins the Kenner, approximately one month after winning the Travers.



Grand railroad station was built on Railroad Place. The location was key as passengers disembarked directly behind some of the largest hotels, introducing travelers directly into the downtown of Saratoga Springs.



The first college regatta was on Saratoga Lake. Yale, Dartmouth, Cornell, and other prominent colleges of the day competed in the meet which became an annual event. Teams took up residence at various properties along the Lake. This regatta drew national attention Saratoga Springs.



Town Hall (now City Hall) completed. The corner of Lake Avenue and Broadway had previously been the site of the Pavilion Hotel. 


Photo circa 1910.


Loughberry Lake became the primary water source for Saratoga Springs with the construction of the modern waterworks. The building was expanded and the original structure became the Saratoga Dairy. It has since forth been razed.



Pari-mutuel betting is introduced off-track at Saratoga.

July 16, 1872

Harry Bassett wins the Saratoga Cup by a length over Longfellow, who raced as a cripple when his shoe flipped over at the beginning of the race. Despite his injury, Longfellow forced his younger rival to set a new American record for 2 ¼ miles.


Photo of Harry Bassett.

July 19, 1872

Woodbine wins the first Alabama.


Mount McGregor Hotel opens.


July 29, 1873

Harry Bassett finishes second to Joe Daniels in the Saratoga Cup.



The Batcheller Mansion is completed. George Sherman Batcheller and his wife Catherine built their majestic home with middle eastern influence reflective of Batchellers position on the first World Court held in Egypt. The plans for the home were copyrighted by Batcheller.



Union Hall becomes the Grand Union Hotel. This hotel grew to accommodate over 1,000 guests and become the largest hotel in the world. It was located on Broadway, between Congress and Washington Streets, taking up the entire block with its immense wings and courtyard.

Grand Union Hotel. Photo courtesy of Saratoga Springs History Museum.


Newly-built United States Hotel opens. The first United States Hotel built in 1824 burned to the ground in 1866. This new structure rivaled the Grand Union in size and luxury. It stood at Broadway and Division street and encompassed nearly half the block.


Photo circa 1890.

August 10, 1875

Parole wins the Kentucky, six days after winning the Saratoga Stakes. A veteran of 138 races in a career that lasted from 1875 through 1885, he enjoyed immense popularity both in the United States and England.



Railroad to Troy double-tracked. This increased the railroad traffic into Saratoga Springs.



The Civil War monument was dedicated to the 77th New York Volunteers at the entrance to Congress Spring Park. The 77th was made up of men from Saratoga Springs and the surrounding communities. They were numbered the 77th in honor of the Battle of Saratoga fought in 1777.



The south section of Congress Park was redesigned by famed landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Clavert Vaux. They had recently completed with on Central Park in New York City.


August 3, 1876

Parole wins the Sequel after winning the All Ages Sweepstakes and finishing second to Tom Ochiltree in the Saratoga Cup. He went on to win the Saratoga Cup on July 25, 1877, the Summer Handicap on August 11, 1877 and the Saratoga cup again on July 25 1878.


July 31, 1877

Duke of Magenta wins the Saratoga Stakes one week after winning the Flash, the latter being the first win of his career. As a 3-year-old in 1878, he won eleven of twelve races, all stakes, including the Preakness, Belmont and Travers.



First local demonstration of the telephone.


Adelphi Hotel opens on Broadway. The Adelphi remains one of only two hotels from the Victorian period still operating as such.


Photo circa 1910.


Cornerstone of Saratoga Battle Monument placed.


Photo of monument completed.

May 1, 1878

John Morrissey dies at the Adelphi Hotel.


August 20, 1878

Duke of Magenta wins the Harding after winning the Travers, Sequel and Kenner.