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  1. Tails

    March 7, 2015 by saratogasam

    Tails – And We’re Off !

    Saratoga Suckers. It’s NOT A Sucker Bet !

    Welcome to the new and improved Saratoga Suckers.

    Your home for Horse Racing Rants and Raves

    Since 2004.

    Yes. This is our official blog.

    The Starting Gate

    It is now post time. The horses are on the track.

    The premier web site for horse racing aficionados is up and running.

    So sit back and enjoy the commentary.

    Odds-on this site will morph into something you can call home.

    Not to mention…’s FREE !

    Get in on the conversation and……..

    May The Horse Be With You !

    email us at:

    A Wee Bit About Us

    We Want YOUR STORY !

    Saratoga Suckers

    The Funny Cide of Saratoga Springs, NY and it’s Horse Racing legacy !

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  2. Old Smoke

    March 15, 2014 by saratogasam

    Old Smoke Just Got No Respect

    John Morrissey in Saratoga Springs 

    John Morrissey aka Old Smoke

    John Morrissy – Old Smoke


    It is one of the ironic facts of high society life that superior imagination will never, in the final analysis, gain equal footing with superior reserves of inherited cash.

    By Kenneth Salzmann

    However much acclaim, or money, the artists, sportsmen and entrepreneurs who provide amusement for the very rich may accumulate in life, when the Blue Book goes to press there can be no mistaking just who is holding all the face cards.

    For some, that is a painful, stubbornly resisted lesson. John Morrissey, for one, never really did learn it. As much as any other person, Morrissey built the framework for modern Saratoga Springs, introducing both horse racing and casino gambling to the Spa City. Neither did he neglect to mind his own interests, amassing a personal fortune and pursuing a successful, if somewhat suspect, political career in the service of New York City’s Tammany Hall machine. But for all his money, for his seat in the United States House of Representatives (and later in the New York State Senate), and for his pivotal
    role in the development of Saratoga’s principal summer attractions, Morrissey never was able to gain what was finally his fondest goal—acceptance into the finest social circles for his beloved wife, Susie, if not for himself.

    The best people, after all, had only to look at John Morrissey’s more-than-tainted background to see that he was only in the Club House because he owned it. Morrissey, the son of Irish immigrants, had grown up in Troy during the 1830s and 40s and largely on the streets. Schooled principally in such pursuits as street-fighting and hustling, he did not learn how to read or write until his nineteenth year. But he had by that time already developed his more basic skills to an exceptional degree, earning a reputation as a very
    tough young man and, on several occasions, attracting the attention of local law enforcement officials over matters ranging from assault and battery to assault with intent to kill.

    From Troy, Morrissey moved on to New York City where he went to work for Tammany Hall as leader of that organization’s Dead Rabbit Gang, a band of toughs charged with keeping a careful eye on New York voting trends. In the spirit of the day’s politics, he and his colleagues were charged by the bosses with re-educating dissident voters whenever necessary by beating them to within an inch of their lives. It would appear that the young Trojan excelled at his work, because his rise through Tammany ranks was rapid.

    At the same time, he was able to use those talents to pursue an athletic career, taking time out from politics to become the heavyweight boxing champion of the United States. In the unrelenting and illegal version of the sport that was then practiced, fighters punched and grappled, bare-knuckled, to the finish, and each round ended not by a bell but by a decisive knock-down.

    Morrissey secured the championship in 1853 in a still-legendary 37-round brawl with title-holder Yankee Sullivan at Boston Corners, New York, near the Massachusetts line. It was a fight he probably lost by most measures, but one he won on a technicality in the midst of mayhem. “Old Smoke,” as he was nicknamed after a barroom fight landed him on top of smoldering coals and convinced his audience he was impervious to pain, continued to fight until 1859.

    With all that, Morrissey was still in his thirties when he was elected to a term in Congress representing Tammany turf. The Congressional Record indicates that the Irish pugilist contributed little to the turbulent political landscape of the 1860s, however. He is perhaps best remembered, in terms of that chapter in his career, for his offer in the course of a heated debate on the floor of the House to “lick any man in Congress.” By that time,
    though, John Morrissey had established himself, and distinguished himself, in other pursuits as well.

    Beginning with a small gambling house in New York City, he had developed a growing gambling empire. About the same time that much of the nation was focused on the outbreak of the Civil War, Morrissey was casting his sights north to the already thriving resort of Saratoga, where he was determined to offer games of chance to the Spa’s prosperous, bathing vacationers.

    His first casino there proved to be a formidable temptation for the well-heeled summer folk. It was followed in short order by the town’s first race track and, before the end of the decade, by the much grander Club House, which for many years set the pace for Saratoga gaming emporia, to be surpassed only by the Canfield Casino.

    At about the same time, John and Susie Morrissey, settling into middle age, found themselves as strongly attracted to the forms and functions of society life as were the socialites to the track and Club House. Some of Mr. Morrissey’s rougher edges had already been polished away and his facile Irish charm went a long way to hide the others. For her part, Mrs. Morrissey was of gentler birth and possessed in abundance whatever social skills her husband lacked.

    Still, time and again, the couple was ostracized by the very society that turned to them for amusement each summer. When they went looking to purchase a suitable estate in Morrissey’s native Troy, a sparkling center of industrial wealth, they found that none among the city’s elite would sell to them at any price. (In retaliation, they built a soap factory between the Hudson River and the fashionable neighborhood they aspired to, causing the gentle river breezes to turn acrid.) When invitations went out, the Morrisseys—common if very rich gamblers—were repeatedly snubbed. As it turned out, it was not
    until John Morrissey’s death in 1878, when he was only 47 years old, that the society to which he had contributed so much paused to notice what were after all the remarkable accomplishments of the once impoverished and illiterate child of immigrants. The New York Times eulogized him at length while the flag at City Hall flew at half-mast, and 19,000 Trojans who would not have their native son as their neighbor in life marched somberly behind his coffin as the springtime rains fell.

    Copyright 2006 by Kenneth A. Salzmann

     #oldsmoke  #johnmorrissey  #clubhouse  #tammany  #canfieldcasino #deadrabbitgame  #pugilist

  3. Belmont Stakes Party

    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