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.
2015 marks the 139th year of the Schoharie County Sunshine Fair, running from August 1st through August 8th on South Grand Street in Cobleskill, New York. The following photos were taken on opening day with a FujiFilm X-T1 mirrorless camera.
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.
On Tuesday I wrote about the Drums Along the Mohawk Outdoor Drama that will take place the first two weekends in August at Gelston Castle Estate in upstate New York. Last evening I was invited by Producer Kyle Jenks to photograph a few of the actors in costume. The rehearsals take place at the United Methodist Church on Golf Course Road in Amsterdam. Pastor Carl Chamberlin has graciously opened the doors of his church to the cast as well as other community groups interested in the Arts.
The costumes really brought the drama to life and the grounds of the United Methodist Church are very similar to those of the Gelston Castle Estate where the drama will be performed in August. As the actors put on their costumes, they immediately became the characters from the novel.
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.
The Rao Center at 100 Church Street in Amsterdam, New York is home to the Walter Elwood Museum. This eclectic collection is part of Amsterdam’s history. Walter Elwood was an educator in the Amsterdam school district in the early 1900s. He traveled worldwide and brought back interesting artifacts to teach his students about world and natural history. This extensive collection was donated to the school district and an organization was formed to help care for and display this collection.
Ann Peconie is the Executive Director of the Walter Elwood Museum of the Mohawk Valley. She and the museum board have done an excellent job displaying this collection for public view. Robert Going, Esq and Vice President of the Walter Elwood Museum of the Mohawk Valley was kind enough to give me a tour of the museum on Saturday during the museum sponsored Amsterdam Farmers’ Market.
For more information about the collection as well as museum hours, please click on the above link.
The devastating Nepal quake last weekend has left over five thousand dead, thousands more unaccounted for, and hundreds of people stranded 20,000 feet on Mount Everest. Reports state the death toll could rise to over 10,000 people. The earthquake, registering 7.8 on the Richter scale, has obliterated homes, ancient temples, and historical landmarks. Nepal is seeing devastation on levels never before imagined, according to reports.
The Buddhist World Peace and Health Organization held a memorial service this morning, for those killed in the Nepal earthquake, at the Western Supreme Buddha Temple in the Town of Glen, New York. This was not the usual celebration held by the Chinese Buddhists as the thought of the death and destruction in Nepal weighed heavily on the hearts and minds of the Buddhist monks and students. You could see it in their faces as they entered the temple in a funeral procession. As Elise translated the message of Buddhist leader, Holy Master Ziguang Shang Shi, I felt the same wave of sadness and concern. A gong sounded the start, middle and end of the service. In memory of those who died in Nepal and to help those who were injured, the monks and students chanted a 100 word mantra to the beat of a wooden percussion instrument carved in the image of a fish. Through prayer and meditation the participants sent to the departed what they believe to be a part of themselves attained through merit or good deeds to help their spirits pass on to be reborn in a better life.
Holy Master Ziguang Shang Shi emphasized the cultural importance of Nepal, its rich history and influence on the practice of Buddhism in our world today. He announced that the WPHO will be donating $200,000 HK dollars through its Hong Kong affiliate to help with Nepal recovery efforts. In addition the WPHO will be purchasing $300,000 HK dollars worth of Dharma instruments and Buddhist statues from Nepal to help it recover economically.
The service ended with the same orderly procession that it began with, the WPHO members reserving this day for prayer and meditation.