Marylou Whitney is the Greatest Gal
Hob-Knobbing with the Swells – Our Most Read Story By Far
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Marylou Whitney in the Travers Day Parade on Broadway in Saratoga Springs – Circa 1985
The “Grand Dame” of Saratoga Springs, Marylou Whitney !
It was a dark and stormy night. Whoops….wrong story. It was the early 1980’s and my girlfriend and I at the time were hanging out a lot with our good friends Rick and Shawna, the original owners of Madame Jumels restaurant.
I’m not sure what’s there now, but Madame Jumels was at the bottom of Caroline Street and quite the popular place in it’s day. I was a big fan of the early morning radio show on WPYX hosted at that time by Bob Mason and Bill Sheehan, a gnarly pair of shock jocks known for their over-the-top pranks. (It is now known as the Wakin’ Up With the Wolf show, hosted by Bob Wolfeld.) They came up with the idea of having a Marylou Whitney look-alike contest.
For the ill-informed, Marylou Whitney is the widow of millionaire Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney and a local celebrity, socialite, philanthropist, and all-around nice gal. The thought of spoofing her in a look-alike contest was more than I could stand. I set out to talk my friends into joining the contest.
Rick and Shawna were more familiar than I with Mrs. Whitney as they also ran a horse-drawn carriage business that Marylou had used the services of. The event was to take place at Siro’s, a popular upscale restaurant and watering hole near the Saratoga Racetrack. Everyone agreed this would be a blast. As seasoned veterans for several years at the infamous Bolton Landing Bed Races on Lake George, we had a fair idea on how to make headlines while having a good time. It’s kind of a Ratpack thing. Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Angie Dickinson; we had learned from the best. Back when men were men…and booze was your buddy. Growing up in the sixties surely had it’s benefits. We set about making our strategy. It was decided the horse and carriage would help make our entrance memorable. As Rick and Shawna would be manning the carriage and I was ugly enough as a man, let alone the well-preserved Whitney, that left my girlfriend to be Marylou. The girls came up with a flashy gown as one might imagine Marylou dressing up in for one of her annual soirées at the Canfield Casino. Rick and I decided on leotards (kind of a court-jester look) and long trumpets as part of our garb and props for our parts as “Her Majesty’s” entourage. It was also decided that “our” Marylou wear a blond wig and gold tiara, as well as a garbage bag “slicker” to mimic a press clipping of the real Marylou wearing the same during a rainstorm at the Saratoga Racetrack. We enlisted a few family and friends as “press agents” sporting fedoras and press passes. We also equipped my nephew Ken with a VHS video camera, a bulky contraption back then as you virtually had to carry an entire VCR on a shoulder strap. With our costumes complete, it was time for the big day.
Our gig officially started at 6 a.m., coinciding with the WPYX 6 to 10 a.m. morning drive show. We decided to arrive fashionably late (or maybe it was a hangover). Anyways, our timing turned out to be impeccable as we were, as I recall, the last contestants to arrive. Our horse and carriage pulled up in front of Siro’s with as much fanfare as we could conjure. The grounds were packed with spectators as well as various guys and gals dressed as Marylou. Rick and I jumped off and rolled out a red carpet for our celebrity. We did our best trumpet rendition of the opening racetrack riff and held “our” Marylou’s hands up as she descended the steps of her carriage. The crowd went wild. All the local TV news cameras rushed up to record the spectacle. We escorted “our” Marylou through the crowd as she pressed the flesh and threw fake money into the air. Rick, Shawna and I remained dutifully in character as we tended to “our” Marylou and fended our way through a sea of people and inside Siro’s. The reporters scrambled for interviews and “our” Marylou had them eating out of her hand as she recited: “Trash, flash, cash …..nobody rides for free.”
We were led to the table with the D.J.’s as a side-splitting back-and-forth ensued between the good-natured Mrs. Whitney and our imposter. The judging began and in spite of the many outrageous and wonderful costumes, we won hands down. No brag….just fact. Mrs. Whitney graciously invited us to stop by her box seats at the track later in the day where we were promptly thrown out for improper attire but not before we were introduced to a few of Marylou’s friends. Our reward? Two all-expense paid airline/hotel tickets to Universal Studios in Los Angeles and the L.A. Coliseum for Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA tour under a warm and moonlit night.
Marylou Whitney…one hell of a sport.
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#granddame #marylouwhitney #brucespringsteen #bornintheusa #madamejumels
Category Celebrities, Entertainment, History, Humor, Marylou Whitney, Saratoga Springs, Saratoga Tales | Tags: marylou whitney,saratoga,saratoga springs | No Comments
March 7, 2015 by saratogasam
Tails – And We’re Off !
Saratoga Suckers. It’s NOT A Sucker Bet !
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Category Belmont Stakes, Betting, Celebrities, Dining, Entertainment, Gambling, Handicapping, Health, History, Horse Racing, Horses, Humor, Jockeys, Kentucky Derby, Nightlife, Politics, Preakness, Saratoga Racetrack, Saratoga Sam, Sports, Sucker Bet, Travers, Triple Crown | Tags: gambling,handicapping,horse racing,horses,odds,saratoga,saratoga springs,sucker | No Comments
March 11, 2012 by saratogasam
Whiskey, Cakes and a Belmont Stakes Party
One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong and four of weak. Time to stock up on some good ole American whiskey (perhaps Jack Daniels) and the Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry. It’s never too early to start planning your Belmont Stakes Party.
You’ll also need some simple syrup, fresh lemon juice, orange juice, cranberry juice and Club Soda so you can have plenty of ingredients to serve your guests a delicious “Belmont Breeze”, the “Toast of the Champion” and official cocktail of the Belmont Stakes; the third, final and most grueling leg of the Triple Crown. Bake a Belmont-themed cake, pick up some traditional white carnations for decoration and a CD of Frank Sinatra singing “New York, New York”. (The song was changed from “Sidewalks of New York” in 1997 – sing: “East Side, West Side, all around the town. The kids sang “ring around rosie”, “London Bridge is falling down”.)
Ok, so this year’s Triple Crown fever died a painful death in 2006 when Barbaro damaged his rear leg in the Preakness but, life goes on and so does the Belmont Stakes, as it has since June 19, 1867. That was the year Francis Morris’s horse Ruthless won the mile and five furlong race in 3:05 running clockwise. No, not backwards. Horse races were run clockwise, as was the English tradition until 1921, when the first horse was run counter-clockwise at, you guessed it, Belmont Racetrack in Elmont, New York (not a spelling error – a coincidence) That would be on Long Island in Nassau County. And so you don’t get called on the carpet for giving out misinformation, the first Belmont Stakes was run at Jerome Park in the Bronx from 1867 to 1889; Morris Park (birthplace of Regis Philbin) from 1890 to 1904.
Belmont Park opened in 1905. Except for a few years from 1911 to 1915 when horseracing was outlawed in New York State and for a short period in the late 60’s for remodeling the “Stakes” have been running at Belmont ever since. As for Barbaro, God bless his safe recovery but, I’m sure he’s fairly comfortable and I’m guessing he’s getting some very special, ahem, “attention” to make sure his legacy lives on should he take a turn for the worse. I should be so lucky.
In more recent Belmont Stakes, unbeaten Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones would be denied the Triple Crown by Marylou Whitney Stable’s 36-1 long shot Birdstone in 2004. In 2005, subsequent to winning the Preakness after a death-defying stumble, one that bestowed him the honor of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s Moment of the Year, Afleet Alex went on to win the Belmont. In 1973, Secretariat established the world’s record for a mile and a half in two minutes and twenty four seconds (2:24) at the Belmont Stakes, making him the ninth horse to win the Triple Crown. His record for the mile and a half stands unbroken today. Seattle Slew, who started his career in 1976 at Belmont Park, went on to win the Belmont Stakes in 1977 and remains the only horse to win the Triple Crown with an undefeated record. 1978 saw one of the greatest races in history at the Belmont Stakes when arch rivals Affirmed and Alydar battled it out in the stretch. The horses came so close together that Affirmed’s 18 year old jockey, Steve Cauthen, had to switch his whip from one hand to the other. Affirmed went on to narrowly win the race and the Triple Crown; only the 11th horse to do so. Among the many other great horses to make history at the Belmont Stakes, War Admiral, offspring of the great Man O War, had his 1937 Triple Crown Stakes overshadowed the following year by the legend of the little horse named Seabiscuit. If you haven’t seen the 1993 movie Seabiscuit with Jeff Bridges, rent it. It’s one of the best.
But who needs a potential Triple Crown winner to make the Belmont Stakes a blast ? The coolest thing since you first saw your dog eat dirt is the fact that the “Run for the Carnations” is the longest of the Triple Crown races. As a matter of fact, Belmont Park is the longest dirt track in the world (you can make a minor technological argument if you do your research). So, tune your cable TV to ESPN around noon, Saturday June 10th, and hunker down for a day of Belmont Festivities. If you don’t have cable, the party should start around 5 pm on ABC in anticipation of the big race at 6:30 EST. Invite your friends over. Get out the monopoly money and have everyone place their bets for their favorite horse. Fill up the ice buckets, pass around the Belmont Breeze pitcher and get in the spirit. Now, I shall close with some more Belmont Stakes trivia.
The highest attendance record was 120,139 in 2004 which is also an all-time high for New York. 2002 saw 103,222 people watch Sarava deny War Emblem the Triple Crown. In 2003 Empire Maker spoiled Funny Cide’s Triple Crown aspirations. The widest margin of victory was 31 lengths in 1973 by the incredible Secretariat at 2:24. The second-fastest time is 2:26, shared by Easy Goer in 1989 and A.P. Indy in 1992. As for jockeys, James Rowe rode ten Belmont victories. James McLaughlin and Eddie Arcaro each had six. Julie Crone was the first woman to win a Triple Crown race when she won the Belmont Stakes in 1993 riding Colonial Affair to a 2 1/4 length victory. James Rowe also had eight of his Belmont wins as a trainer; another record. Trainer Sam Hildreth was second with seven and “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons had six.
The “Post Parade” was introduced to American racing at the 1880 Belmont Stakes. Prior to that the horses went directly from paddock to post. The trophy for the Belmont Stakes is a silver bowl supported by three horses; Eclipse, Herod and Matchem and is crafted by Tiffany. It is 18 inches high, 15 inches across and 14 inches at the base and was presented by the Belmont family as a perpetual award for the Belmont Stakes in 1926. Winning owners are given the option of keeping the trophy for the year their horse remains Belmont champion.
Have a great Belmont Stakes party and then get ready for the best of the best meet; Saratoga Springs! Oh, and here is the official recipe for the Belmont Breeze, by mixologist, Dale DeGroff:
1 1/2 ounces of a good American blended whiskey
3/4 ounces Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry
1/2 ounce of fresh lemon juice
1 ounce of simple syrup
(1 ounce of sweet and sour mix may be substituted for the lemon juice and simple syrup)
1 1/2 ounces fresh orange juice
1 1/2 ounces cranberry juice
1 ounce 7-Up
1 ounce Club Soda
Shake first six ingredients with ice, then top with 7-Up and club soda. Garnish with mint sprig and lemon wedge.
#belmontbreeze #simplesyrup #barbaro #whiskey #jackdaniels #birdstone #afleetalex
Category Belmont Stakes, Betting, Celebrities, Dining, Entertainment, Gambling, Handicapping, History, Horse Racing, Horses, Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Saratoga Springs, Sports, Sucker Bet, Triple Crown | Tags: | No Comments