Saratoga with a twist

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Alt. breakfast at Saratoga

Sure, going to Saratoga sounds like a good idea, but the prices, traffic and crowds can be a drag. And maybe you're looking for something just a little bit different than the typical day at the races.

Here are a few alternatives to the typical Saratoga fare if you're looking to change things up (and save some cash).

Breakfast at the track
Watching the workouts as the sun comes up can be fun, but $15 scrambled eggs made in great big batches--maybe not so much. The grounds of the Saratoga Racecourse open at 7a.m., but you don't have to do the full clubhouse breakfast to enjoy them.

Alternative: Stop by The Bread Basket on Spring Street. Pick up some coffee and their
delicious cinnamon buns. Then head for the track, pick out a box seat and get
a view of the thoroughbreds, Whitney style.

Bread Basket

Before you leave, take the backstretch tour. It's a free look behind the scenes at the track. You'll learn how the thoroughbreds are cared for and trained and, maybe most interestingly, how tough it is to run the starting gate.

backstretch tour starting gate

*Trackside parking costs $10, but if you leave before 10 AM, you get it back.


Transportation
Parking for a day at the track can cost as much as $10 a car. And then there's the aggravation of sitting in track traffic.

Alternative: For $1 CDTA takes you right to the Union Avenue gate. You can pick up the 471 bus in front of Congress Park, but if you're looking for a place to leave your car for the day, you can catch the bus at the Amtrak Station off West Avenue.

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Lunch
With the addition of restaurant row there are more food options at the track than ever before. But eating trackside can get expensive.

Alternative: If you're the picnic type, snag a table or a good spot by the paddock and
pick up some sandwiches, olives and other good stuff from Roma Food Imports on Washington Avenue. The subs are great, the prices are reasonable and the Italian cookies are totally worth the calorie splurge. Come early and pack your cooler-- lunchtime gets busy there.

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Excursion

A full day of racing can be a lot for some folks. When you've had enough horses, take a break and stroll a little further down Union Avenue to Yaddo. The artist's retreat has a public rose garden and rock garden. It's a beautiful, relaxing place to wander and wind down. You can visit anytime between dawn and dusk and picnickers are welcome -- just stick to the public areas.

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Post-racing drinks
If you've got any money left after the races you may want a cocktail to celebrate the day's victories or soothe its defeats. If you're willing to skip the "see and be seen" scene at Siro's you can head up to The Adelphi where the bar and porches don't usually crowd up until later in the evening. The place is gorgeous, the drinks are cool and delicious -- and if you're going to pay $9 for a drink, you should at least get some elbow room along with it.

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If the Pubs are more your style, you may want to opt for a beer at The Local. It's a laid back little place on Beekman Street on Saratoga's West Side, a few blocks away from the Broadway hubbub. You might even get in on a pick up game of darts.

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