Saratoga Diary: Parties and Politics

Jeremy Edge, a councilman from the Chelsea borough of London, is looking for a house to buy in Saratoga.

He's given up on staying at Judy Schrade's Bed and Breakfast – not because he doesn't like it anymore – oh, my God, no. But because it's time that he makes the move. You see, he just sold his home in Newmarket.

Regardless of where Edge buys, he's never going to get closer to the racetrack than Schrade's. The B&B is the lone house in the parking lot a hundred yards to the west of the clubhouse. There, at 108 Nelson, it's the one with the Union Jack flying.

Regarding Schrade's location, Edge jokes that he comes home between races to take a beer from the fridge, in order to avoid the $6.50 tab of a cold one at the racetrack. Cold beer? An Englishman? See how Saratoga racing can upset a culture?

Monday signaled the start of Travers week and two of the season's grandest galas. On Thursday, the New York Racing Association will host its annual event to benefit B.E.A.T (Backstretch Employees Assistance Team), and on the evening preceding that, Wednesday, the annual Belmont Child Care Association (Anna House) benefit will be held at the Gideon Putnam.

It's rumored that Senator Joe Bruno, the powerful Republican who serves as New York senate majority leader, scheduled a party of his own on the same night of the BCCA function. For the time being, at least, Bruno is at the center of the decision-making process regarding the future of the racetrack's operations.

Only a cynic would say that the date for proposals to operate the New York tracks was set back to August 29 to allow for the full effect of fund-raising during the meet.

In another development, Tracy Farmer, an influential owner/breeder from Kentucky and a Democrat, inserted himself in the politics of Saratoga yesterday. He heads up the Concerned Citizens for Saratoga Racing, whose members understand that Saratoga's culture, unlike Edge's, is what drives the economy here.

The group is fighting to protect the spring and fall training sessions at the Oklahoma track. It also wishes the state to legally require that local zoning and planning boards must give their approval to the racetrack's future development, believing that without these approvals, the track may be subjected to change not in character with Saratoga's charm.

Given the social agenda of the upcoming week, it'll be revealing to learn, then, which racing people will choose to line Bruno's pockets instead of giving to the support of the children of Anna House.

Last election in London, Edge carried his district by 79 percent. Perhaps a politician such as he can predict what happens on Thursday, but others will have to wait and see.