Timeline: 1900-1909



By TERESA GENARO, founder of Brooklynbackstretch.com and turf writer for The Saratogian

The first decade of the 20th century represented a renaissance for Saratoga Race Course. Tarnished by the stewardship of Gottfried Walbaum as the 19th century came to a close, Saratoga was re-born as the new century dawned. “Saratoga On Verge of Boom,” read a New York Daily Tribune headline in 1901.

Purchased by a syndicate that included Williams Collins Whitney, Saratoga underwent expansion and rejuvenation under his leadership; he oversaw the introduction of many of the features that we now consider intrinsic to the track’s character. Whitney became president of the Saratoga Association in 1901, and his name is a byword for the re-development of the historic track.

During Whitney’s tenure, the track expanded to include what we now know as the Oklahoma, and the grandstand was renovated and expanded. Stephen Sanford and August Belmont II built their private stables on the track’s grounds, the latter in what is now called Clare Court. The iconic saddling shed (now housing offices and pari-mutuel windows) and backyard saddling area were constructed.

In 1901, the Travers Stakes, Saratoga’s signature race, returned, having been run only once in the previous five years. The Saratoga Special was first run in 1901, the Hopeful two years later.

Away from the track, the new century saw the opening of Kaydeross Park on Saratoga Lake, and in 1903, Lucy Scribner founded the Young Women’s Industrial Club, in part as a counterpoint to the gambling and racing of which she disapproved, so that young women could learn skills that would support them when the “summer people” went away at the end of the season.

But all was not smooth sailing. The black jockeys who had been so important to racing began to disappear from the sport as a result of racism, and anti-gambling forces gained strength through the decade. The success of Canfield’s casino led to expansion in 1902, but Edward Hotaling in They’re Off! Horse Racing at Saratoga reported that it closed, for all intents and purposes, three years later.

The passing of the Hart-Agnew Act took place in 1908, prohibiting soliciting or recording of bets in a fixed place; two years later, racing would come to an end in New York State because of the consequences of the Act.

 August 5, 1901

Saratoga Race Course opens under the ownership of William C. Whitney and the Saratoga Association (for the Improvement of the Breed of Horses).

Actual photo from 1904.


Hudson Valley Motor Company, led by president William Tarrant, builds its first car in Saratoga Springs in a plant located above the VanRaalte factory . They only built two. The company went on to be the Gage Mobile Company and went out of business in 1906. 



The Thoroughbred Record reports that Whitney “bought all the land East of East Avenue and South of the speedway as far east as the Crosby property (the Oklahoma track area). The purchase gives Whitney 120 acres, including the Horse Haven property. It is understood that the price is $40,000.”

Williams Collins Whitney at the track. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

Photo circa 1904.


Whitney hires landscape architect/engineer Charles Wellford Leavitt to design a new, larger track.


 August 4, 1903

The Alabama is run on the new turf course.

 August 8, 1903

Broomstick finishes second to Aristocracy in the Saratoga Special. A good race horse, he was considered one of the best sires of his time.


August 15, 1903

Delhi wins the first Hopeful.

 August 4, 1904

Beldame wins the Alabama. As a 3-year-old, she beat older male horses in four stakes races.


August 6, 1904

Sysonby wins the Saratoga Special after winning the Flash five days earlier. A winner of fourteen of his fifteen career starts, his only loss was to the future Hall of Fame Artful in the 1904 Futurity after he had allegedly been drugged by his groom.


August 9, 1904

Broomstick wins the Travers.


August 13, 1904

The filly Tanya wins the Hopeful, after earlier winning the Spinaway. The next year she became the second filly to win the Belmont Stakes.

August 16, 1904

Broomstick finishes second to the filly Molly Brant in the Merchants’ and Citizens’ Handicap after winning the Travers a week earlier.


 August 20, 1904

Beldame wins the Saratoga Cup.


August 12, 1905

Sysonby wins the Great Republic; Broomstick finishes third.


 August 19, 1905

Beldame finishes second to Caughnawaga in the Saratoga Cup after finishing third to that same rival in the Saratoga Handicap and finishing fifth to Molly Brant in the Delaware.


 August 18, 1906

Peter Pan wins the Hopeful, twelve days after winning the Flash. As a 3-year-old he won six stakes before retiring with a bowed tendon.

August 5, 1907

Fair Play wins the Flash. Best known as the sire of Man o’ War, he was the best horse of his generation after Colin retired.


August 14, 1907

Colin wins the Grand Union Hotel after winning the Saratoga Special four days earlier. He and Personal Ensign are only one of two Hall of Fame inductees to retire with a perfect record.


August 24, 1907

Fair Play finishes third to Restigouche in the United States Hotel after finishing second to Jim Gaffney in the Hopeful one week earlier.


 August 5, 1908

Maskette wins the Spinaway. A champion at two and three, she never lost a race to another filly.

 August 5, 1909

Maskette wins the Alabama.