Vic Zast

  • Vic Zast's Saratoga Diary: Restaurant Wars

    Two popular New York City restaurants are getting their own building on the racecourse grounds, providing competition for Siro's and evidence that NYRA's daunting problems are only temporary.

  • Greg Montgomery

    Inside Track: Midsummer Derby Artist

    When the owner of a Saratoga Springs, N.Y., gallery learned that a visitor thought a poster commemorating the 1985 Travers Stakes didn't serve the gallery or the race proper respect, the owner challenged the visitor to create something finer.

  • Horses Need No Translation

    <em>By Vic Zast</em> - Despite their abiding love for sumo wrestling, karaoke, pachinko, and baseball, the celebrants of bounty descended upon Tokyo Race Course, home of the world's third-richest horse race -- the Japan Cup (Jpn-I). Standing a foot taller in a shirt size I can't buy at the souvenir stands, and realizing I know nothing about which horses to bet on or how to even bet them, I am feeling like a gaijin among insiders.

  • Quality End to Long Meet

    Ten races on Labor Day concluded the 35 days of Saratoga racing, and it was the kind of high quality card that racing secretary P. J. Campo should have been producing all along.

  • Saratoga Diary: Blanket Approval

    Saratoga pulled out the old "give 'em a fleece blanket" promotion, and 66,311 people turned out – or, at least, they paid $3 to go through the turnstiles. The funny part is that many of the souvenir buyers stayed, and how lucky they were as a result. The seventh, eighth, and ninth races were something to witness.

  • Saratoga Diary: Blanket Approval

    Saratoga pulled out the old "give 'em a fleece blanket" promotion, and 66,311 people turned out – or, at least, they paid $3 to go through the turnstiles. The funny part is that many of the souvenir buyers stayed, and how lucky they were as a result. The seventh, eighth, and ninth races were something to witness.

  • Saratoga Diary: Of Bridesmaids and Brides

    Tracy Farmer's dark bay colt by Charismatic has amassed more than $2 million on the racetrack, but even as the 2-1 favorite, he could only finish third in The Woodward (gr. I) on Saturday.

  • Saratoga Diary: Twilight Before the Storm

    In true Saratoga tradition, "Happy Hour" prices went into effect at 5 p.m. There were price reductions on hot dogs and fries and whiskey and beer. But, other than that, it was another day of trying to pick winners – alas, only three more days of that.

  • Saratoga Diary: Weighty Issues

    Hirapour, the 10-year-old gelding with designs on a second Eclipse Award as the country's top steeplechase horse, displayed his versatility in winning the A.P. Smithwick Handicap (NSA-II) earlier this meet.

  • Saratoga Diary: Clubhouse Sticker Stickler

    On Sunday, Saratoga ran its Ballerina Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. I) for fillies and mares. But it was the woman known as the "Sticker Nazi," tip-toeing through the lower regions of the clubhouse, who riveted the fans' attention.

  • Saratoga Diary: Jake and the Sheikh

    The 85-year-old "white cap" - which is the term by which red-vested ushers such as Jake Schmidt used to be called - has handled this assignment for several years now. And what he likes best about it is that he gets to be on television so his grandsons in California can see him.

  • Saratoga Diary: Playing Hooky with the Horses

    Some mighty good horses gave race-goers who played hooky from work on Friday a taste of what's upcoming on Travers Day. On yet another perfect late summer afternoon - temps in the high 70s and no humidity - Saratoga Race Course lived up to its old slogan, "the August place to be."

  • Saratoga Diary: Playing Hooky with the Horses

    And speaking of stamina, nobody is certain of how far Discreet Cat – a son of Forestry – can run, yet everyone who saw him win the third race was asking why he wasn't entered in the Travers.

  • Saratoga Diary: A Preference for Pink and Green

    The steeplechase set has a different look than the flat racing crowd. The men wear Gucci loafers with d-bits and seersucker suits with striped ties, and the women have Pucci dresses with retro patterns and hairdos that look like the hats that Bonaparte wore.

  • Saratoga Diary: Travers Takes Shape

    One more scrambled eggs and bacon meal is not what the doctor's ordered, but, then, hey, it is Saratoga and the "vittles" were there to be gobbled up.

  • Saratoga Diary: Parties and Politics

    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.

  • Saratoga Diary: Trouble on the Track

    Richie Migliore, who has been uncharacteristically non-productive at the Spa this season, rode two winners on the card Sunday. But the Mig's two-bagger was not the best riding performance of the afternoon.

  • Saratoga Diary: Old Meets New on Alabama Day

    The classy black silks with cherry red cap of the Phipps Stable flooded under the finish line first in the Alabama Stakes on Saturday. And with the presentation of the trophy to family members in the winner's circle - beneath cloudy skies befitting the politics surrounding the racetrack - memories of the Vanderbilts, Mellons, duPonts, and Whitneys came rushing to the surface.

  • Saratoga Diary: Picking Flowers, Picking Horses

    When it comes to decor, Gotchya's is to classy as Martha is to chaos. It's a noisy joint -- owing to the tight quarters and bare floors -- and cheesy, with black and white photos of Al Capone and the Rat Pack looking down at you from the walls as you dine.

  • Saratoga Diary: Women at Work, Men with Their Pants Down

    On Wednesday, jockey Chantal Sutherland rode the mechanical horse at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Her turn on the horse race simulator was Sutherland's first ride of three on the day, the second of which was a fill-in for Rudy Rodriquez and the third, a longshot in the ninth that she booted home 11th.

  • Saratoga Diary: Half-time Report

    Saratoga's first three weeks were marked by muggy hot weather followed by splendid cool days and nights, a card cancellation, upsets, an onslaught of New York-bred races, declining attendance, numerous mishaps at the starting gate, and soap opera politics. Will the next 18 days be as rocky as the past 17 days?

  • Saratoga Diary: Feeling the Love for Bailey

    For two hours on Sunday, retired jockey Jerry Bailey signed autographs at the racetrack to benefit the Belmont Child Care Association, and for two hours before he started, Sandra Misiun, a parking enforcement officer from Turners Falls, Massachusetts, waited on line with her $5 donation to get one.

  • Saratoga Diary: Day of the Dead

    Galas like this don't exist in many parts of the country, but - in Saratoga - they make a Saturday betting horses a battle with fatigue. 'Hung over in Saratoga' is redundant.

  • Saratoga Diary: Roger Laurin's 20-Year Itch

    Twenty years between winners for a trainer is a long time. But that's about how long it's taken Saratoga Springs homeowner Roger Laurin, the trainer of the first-ever Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) champion Chief's Crown, to get back to work.

  • Saratoga Diary: The Difference Between Dead and Dying

    Charlie Hayward, the racetrack's president, credits Bill Nader, his newly-promoted chief operating officer, with coming up with the "Grand Slam." Nader pushed for the innovative bet hoping that it would give horseplayers a tantalizing way to wager on several races.

  • Saratoga Diary: Bats in the Attic; Horses for Sale

    Life in Saratoga changes when the yearlings are in town. The horses drive the bats out of the barns that have been their homes for nearly 11 months, and sales of tennis rackets soar, since they are the most effective weapons for shoo-ing the night-flying pests from the attic.

  • Tears Flow at Racing Hall of Fame

    "There is no crying in horse racing" - at least, there's not supposed to be. But at the induction ceremony for new members of the Racing Hall of Fame on Monday, tears seemed a requirement.