Saratoga Diary: Pointer Sisters Play for Good Cause

Equine Advocates, an organization founded by Susan Wagner a decade ago to make certain that horses received protection from slaughter, abuse and abandonment, honored Staci and Arthur Hancock at its annual fund-raiser on Thursday night.

The party followed the familiar path – cocktails and silent auction, glad-handing, assembly-line food at a sit-down dinner, speeches, a live auction and entertainment. Then, the car keys were handed over to designated drivers.

As in years past, the festivities took place in fancy tents on a gorgeous horse farm outside of Saratoga in Schuylerville. But this year, the Pointer Sisters, instead of the Beach Boys, who were the musical guests last year when D.G. Van Clief, Jr. was honored, were the main attraction.

Other than the Whitney Ball at the Canfield Casino, which this year was cancelled because its host, Mary Lou Whitney, is convalescing, and the Saratoga Hospital event, which Mary Lou supports with her philanthropy, no other gathering produces an invitation that makes a mailbox as happy.

The Equine Advocates benefit bookends a busy Saratoga social calendar that ends with the Belmont Child Care Association party at the Gideon Putnam Hotel and the Travers Ball, now held on the grounds of the racetrack.

Understandably, the timing of it coincides with the arrival of horses in the yearling barns on Madison Street. Wherever good horses are put up for sale, it is certain that people with money congregate, and Wagner, ever the promoter, knows this.

Last year, the Fasig-Tipton Sales Company decided that a two-night auction would be more productive than the traditional three-night affair, so this year's Saratoga Select Yearling Sale is scheduled for August 8 and 9.

For many of the locals, who circle the auction pavilion for the glimpse of a future champion and the bidders in search of them, this rite of summer is too short at any length.

Imagine the energy that infuses this city when a man buys a horse for $3.1 million. That's precisely what happened last August when a son of Storm Cat, now with the name Black Cat Crossing, was sold.

Nevertheless, only one Saratoga select yearling sale graduate posted a win at the racecourse on Thursday. Thatsmorelikeit, a 4-year-old Forestry colt that sold for $350,000 at the sale in 2003, won a $50,000 optional claiming race. A homebred named Peg's Prayer, from a $1500 New York-bred sire, won the $150,000 feature.

The most action, otherwise, was when Channing Hill lost the stirrups and his mount carried him unscripted down the stretch on the rail near the crowd in the seventh.

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