Friends of Sanford Stud Farm
Tonight was the Travers Stakes race at Saratoga Racecourse and Triple Crown Winner American Pharoah did not win. He really didn’t have to because just appearing at this year’s Saratoga meet caused a major frenzy that really boosted track attendance. This blogger was not among the 50,000 people in attendance at the Traver’s Stakes. I did the next best thing and went to the Friday track warm-ups, which broke a record with over 15,000 people who came for just a glimpse of the horse that won the Triple Crown.
Saratoga Racecourse didn’t open for visitors until 7am on Friday and my friend and I arrived about 6:30am. We took a trip across the street to the Oklahoma Track where we got some great shots of the horses practicing in the morning fog at sunrise. Once we actually arrived at Saratoga’s main track where one can usually enjoy a leisure breakfast while watching the thoroughbreds warm up, we saw the very large crowd of people waiting for a glimpse of racing royalty. There was no room at the rail, people were planted in prime positions and would not move. My friend and I were shooting with cameras held high overhead to try and get some photos when a very gracious woman named Karen offered to trade her place when American Pharoah entered the track in exchange for one of my images.
The Triple Crown winning thoroughbred entered the track at 8:45am as promised escorted by a safety horse. They made one stop in front of the winner’s circle and one quick lap around the track before exiting promptly. People were frantically snapping photos on their cell phones and digital cameras. It was over in what seemed like seconds as the hoard of people now moved en masse to the parking areas where it took my friend and I about 40 minutes to get to Union Avenue. Despite the inconvenience, the opportunity was immensely enjoyed resulting in the following images. These images were shot with the FujiFilm X-T1 and the Fujinon XF 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens. Most of the images were shot at 1/1000 sec, f/5.6 at IS0 640. Continuous, wide area tracking autofocus was used with continuous high speed frames (8 frames/sec). Please do not copy or reproduce my images, they are my intellectual property and quite a bit of effort was spent creating them.
One of the best places to visit in New York State during the summer is the Saratoga Race Course. It is a time honored tradition for many and recently for me through photography and the not-for-profit organization, the Friends of Sanford Stud Farm. FSSF was established to preserve the thoroughbred racing legacy of the Sanford family, whose local Amsterdam farm Hurricana, bred, trained and raced thoroughbred horses for competition at Saratoga. Although most of the original farm is now commercial space, the group would like to save the remaining buildings to create a park where tourists could stop and learn about our rich history in thoroughbred racing.
I first photographed the Saratoga Race Course in the ’80s and several times last season, including the newly established Sanford Exhibit at the National Racing Museum and Hall of Fame. Breakfast at the track is a great way to see the thoroughbreds warm up without the crowds and the cost of admission. Trackside parking for breakfast opens at 6:45am and although you pay the parking fee ($12 weekdays, $15 weekends), the money is refunded if you exit the parking area by 10am.
The following photos were taken Saturday, July 25, 2015, at the 101st running of the Sanford Stakes. The trophy was presented by Landine (Sanford) Manigault and her son Pierre to horse #11 Uncle Vinny, trainer T. Pletcher, jockey J. Velasquez .
The #4 horse, Magna Light actually came in 1st place was was knocked down to 3rd after a formal complaint and controversial technical disqualification. Sanford descendant Landine Manigault felt badly for the owners and trainers of the disqualified Magna Light and asked me to take a photo with one of Magna Light’s owners to signify their win anyway.
Friends of Sanford Stud Farm is a not for profit organization dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Sanford Thoroughbred Training Farm in the Town of Amsterdam, New York. Each year the organization sponsors several events to help educate local residents about the rich history of thoroughbred racing right here in our own backyard.
You can read more about our local legacy on the Friends of Sanford Stud Farm website as well as previous articles on the Grove Street Photographer.
The 2015 Friends of Sanford Stud Farm Open House was especially nice this year because of the seven Percheron horses that occupied the stables, enabling local residents to interact with these beautiful animals up close and personal. Many thanks to the members of the New York Percheron Association for bringing their horses to the Sanford Stables for the Friends event. Dozens of vendors, raffles, a car show and a bouncy house made this a fun occasion for all ages.
FSSF is also sponsoring a series of outdoor movies at their Tessiero Road and Rt 30 location starting with Field of Dreams tonight at 8:30PM.
In the 1870’s, carpet-manufacturing innovator Stephen Sanford was advised by his physician to “buy a farm and a couple horses” and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of life in the country in order to escape from the stressful environment of his busy internationally acclaimed carpet business. It was a “therapeutic” decision that would lead to one of the largest and most recognized thoroughbred breeding facilities in the nation.
The purple and gold colors of Sanford Stud Farm, also known as Hurricana for the winds that blew over the farm from the Mohawk Valley below, would grace the Winner’s Circle of the Kentucky Derby with George Smith. Sanford Stud Farm was also the first American stable to win the prestigious English Grand National Steeplechase.
Today, only a few of the magnificent buildings remain. The training track is a shopping mall and the monuments memorializing Sanford winners have all been removed from their original places of honor.
In spite of the deteriorating buildings the Sanford Legacy lives on, immortalized by the Grade II Sanford Stakes at Saratoga, The Hollie Hughes Handicap at Aqueduct and by the still-standing Broodmare Barn located on rt 30 in the Town of Amsterdam, New York.
Please consider a membership or donation to the immediate goal of the Friends of Sanford Stud Farm. The broodmare barn has been standing for nearly 200 years. However, due to the neglect of recent years, a significant portion of this irreplaceable structure is facing almost certain collapse. Without your support, one of Amsterdam’s major landmarks could be lost forever.
Friends of Sanford Stud Farm is a Not-For-Profit Organization in unison with the Town of Amsterdam formed to help oversee the restoration and preservation of the former Sanford Stud Farm as a heritage center because of its historical, educational, architectural and cultural signifigance. The Friends of Sanford Stud Farm is recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) Not-for-Profit Corporation. On May 5, 2013, one of goals of The Friends of Sanford Stud Farm was realized in being recognized as a place of national prominence in getting listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Following the preview of the Sanford Legacy Exhibit at the National Racing Museum and Hall of Fame on March 24, 2015, The Friends of Sanford Stud Farm held their annual social gathering and officer installation at Amsterdam’s Municipal Golf Course Clubhouse.
2015 Board of Directors
President – Scott Friers, Vice President – Thomas Foster, Secretary – Linda Gates, Treasurer – John Lesniewski
Mary Ann Metz, Ron DiCaprio, Tom DiMezza, Jenny Brewster
It was a very nice evening catered by MUNI’s gracious concessionaire Laura Elmendorf who put out an excellent buffet. The evening opened with a speech by FSSF President Scott Friers. Sam Hidebrandt told a very entertaining story describing how a man was tricked by a shady tailor into buying an ill fitting suit. Sam was also chosen to receive the outstanding volunteer of the year award. He never ceases to amaze with his vast knowledge of the history of the Sanford family and thoroughbred racing and his dedication to the cause. Restorations on the Broodmere barn were extensive this year due to the efforts of volunteers, an engineer and Kucel Construction who also received awards. Many gave speeches including Victoria Tokarowski, curator of the Sanford Legacy exhibit, Pierre Manigault, Great Gandson of John Sanford, spoke about feeling part of our family here in Amsterdam. Although he lives in Charleston, South Carolina, Pierre finds the time to attend our local events. He and his mother Landine Manigault have been generous benefactors to FSSF. Official proclamations signifying the importance of the Sanford Legacy were issed by NYS Senator George Amedore and Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara’s office by their local administrative assistants. Town of Amsterdam Supervisor and member of the FSSF Board of Directors, Tom DiMezza spoke about the Town’s continued dedication to this project.