Timeline: 1960-1969

 

1960-1969

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

The 1960s saw tremendous changes to the New York racing landscape; the creation of the New York Racing Association and subsequent renovations of Belmont Park and Aqueduct Racetrack meant that the little track upstate was largely ignored, but when the 1960s hit, attention was turned to the Spa, and the decade saw significant changes and memorable events in Saratoga both on and off the track.

The construction of the Adirondack Northway began, linking New York’s populous downstate areas with the Capital Region; the stretch linking Albany to Lake George was completed in 1966, enabling Red Smith to famously say that the way to get to Saratoga was to take the Northway to Exit 14, turn left at Union Avenue, and go back 100 years.

Taking nothing away from Smith’s fanciful description, the track of the 1960s might have been something of a shock to a visitor from an earlier era. The field stand and betting ring at the top of the stretch were removed to make way for a grandstand extension that nearly doubled the original’s seating capacity. The venerable saddling shed behind the clubhouse was modified to house offices and pari-mutuel machines. The spacious expanse of the yard was filled in with televisions, picnic benches, and other small structures.

As the new decade dawned, so did a run of domination in thoroughbred racing never to be duplicated, as Kelso was voted Horse of the Year from 1960-1964. He won at Saratoga in four of those years, including victories in the 1963 and 1965 Whitney Handicaps. In 1967, Kelso came back to Saratoga to jump fences in the infield on National Steeplechase Day.

A 1962 race that some call the best Travers ever made history when Jaipur edged out Ridan by a nose after a head-and-head battle from gate to wire. The filly who finished seventh in that race had made a splash at Saratoga the previous summer, as Cicada won both the Schuylerville and the Spinaway en route to 2-year-old filly honors.

The 1966 Horse of the Year, Buckpasser, won the Travers a year after winning the Hopeful and being voted 2-year-old champion colt. Horses of the Year Damascus (1967) and Dr. Fager (1968) also made starts at Saratoga, winning the Travers and Whitney, respectively. Damascus’s margin of victory in the Travers was 22 lengths.

Around town, Skidmore began the move from its downtown campus to North Broadway, and in 1963 fundraising began for the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. According to Edward Hotaling, the turf community was among those who donated generously, with breeding farms contributing stallion fees. SPAC opened in 1966.

Tompion had won the Travers in 1960, and eight years later his son Chompion followed in his father’s footsteps. The end of the decade was marked by the running of the 100th Travers Stakes. It was won, fittingly, by Arts and Letters, yet another Saratoga winner who would go on to be a champion; he was voted that year’s 3-year-champion and Horse of the year, closing out a decade in which every Horse of the Year raced — and won — at the Spa.

August 2, 1961

The first division of the Moreau Pond Handicap is the first race run on the new turf course.

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 August 5, 1961

Bowl of Flowers, a champion the only two years she raced,  finishes third to Primonetta in the Alabama.

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1961 Alabama Video:

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Video Footage © New York Racing Association, Inc.

 August 23, 1961

 Cicada, a champion at two, three and four, wins the Spinaway after winning the Schuylerville two weeks earlier.


1961 Spinaway Video:

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Video Footage © New York Racing Association, Inc.

August 4, 1962  

Carry Back wins the Whitney.  A crowd favorite because of his modest pedigree and come-from-behind racing style, he was named 3-year-old champion in 1961 after winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and five other stakes.

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1962 Whitney Video:

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Video Footage © New York Racing Association, Inc.

August 18, 1962 

Cicada finishes seventh and last to Jaipur,  and Ridan,  in the Travers after finishing third to Firm Policy in the Alabama one week earlier.

 

1962 Travers Video:

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Video Footage © New York Racing Association, Inc.

 August 22, 1962

Affectionately, co-champion 2-year-olf filly of 1962 and champion sprinter of 1965, wins the Spinaway.

 August 3, 1963  

Kelso,  Horse of the Year five years in a row, from 1960 through 1964,  wins the second of three Whitneys (the first, 1961, was held at Belmont Park).

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1963 Whitney Video:

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Video Footage © New York Racing Association, Inc.

 August 23, 1963

Gun Bow, famous for his races against Kelso, finishes fifth and last to Big End in the Burgoyne Handicap.

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 August 8, 1964  

Gun Bow wins the Whitney.

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1964 Whitney Video:

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Video Footage © New York Racing Association, Inc.

 August 7, 1965  

Kelso wins the Whitney.

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August 26, 1965

 Bon Nouvel, champion steeplechaser of 1964 and 1965, finishes second to The Sport in the Saratoga Steeplechase Handicap.

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August 28, 1965

Buckpasser, champion 2-year-old male in 1965 and 3-year-old male champion and Horse of the Year in 1966,  wins the Hopeful.

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1965

On November 26th a fire started in the Columbian Hotel leapt across Broadway catching Convention Hall on Fire.  Both buildings burned to the ground leaving the city without a convention center for years.

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Photo circa 1907.

1966

SPAC opens through a grass roots community effort to spark a re-birth of the arts in Saratoga Springs.
 Video courtesy of Story Mavericks.

August 20, 1966  

Buckpasser wins the Travers.

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1966 Travers Video:

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Video Footage © New York Racing Association, Inc.

 August 9, 1967  

Fort Marcy, champion grass horse in 1967 and champion handicap horse, grass horse, and Horse of the Year in 1970, wins the Bernard Baruch Handicap.

August 12, 1967  

Gamely, champion handicap filly/ mare in 1968, wins the Alabama.

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1967 Alabama Video:

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Video Footage © New York Racing Association, Inc.

 August 19, 1967  

Damascus wins the Travers by 22 lengths in the slop.  Known for his races with Buckpasser and Dr. Fager, he was named the top 3-year-old male and Horse of the Year in 1967.

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August 3, 1968  

Dr. Fager wins the Whitney.  In 1968 he won four Eclipse Awards: handicap horse, grass horse, sprinter, and Horse of the Year.  He is perhaps best known for setting the current world record for a mile when he  won the 1968 Washington Park Handicap  while carrying 134 pounds.

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1968 Whitney Video:

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Video Footage © New York Racing Association, Inc.

 August 19, 1968  

Gamely wins the Diana Handicap, but is disqualified and placed second and Green Glade in named the winner.

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August 21, 1968  

Ta Wee,  champion sprinter of either sex in 1969 and 1970, finishes fourth, and 1969 3-year-old filly champion Gallant Bloom finishes seventh, to Queen’s Double in the Spinaway.

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 August 22, 1968  

Bon Nouvel finishes second to Appollon in the Saratoga Steeplechase Handicap after winning the Beverwyck Steeplechase Handicap.

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July 31, 1969  

Ta Wee wins the Test.

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August 9, 1969  

Shuvee, the only filly or mare to win the Jockey Club Gold Cup (she won it twice, when its distance was two miles) wins the Alabama.

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1969 Alabama Video:

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Video Footage © New York Racing Association, Inc.

August 16, 1969  

Arts and Letters, who was named 1969 3-year-old male champion, top handicap horse, and Horse of the Year, wins the Travers after winning the Jim Dandy eight days earlier.

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1969 Travers Video:

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Video Footage © New York Racing Association, Inc.

August 18, 1969  

Gamely wins the Diana Handicap.

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