O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A

oklahoma.jpg

Oh what a beautiful morning.

By Mike Hare

What do Rodgers and Hammerstein have in common with Saratoga's training track?
Nothing really. But there's a reason people make the connection.

The Saratoga Racecourse wasn't always where it is today. The first day of racing took
place back in 1863 on the other side of Union Avenue. The first meet was such a hit that John Morrissey and his buddies set about building a bigger and grander course. The Saratoga Racecourse we know today opened in 1864.

So what happened to the old course?

It was renamed "Horse Haven" and turned into a training track.

But by the early 1900's Saratoga had outgrown the facility. The Racing Association
realized that more stall space and a bigger training facility was needed. So they purchased over 100 acres north of Horse Haven, and opened the new one-mile oval.

Interesting, but what does all this have to do with Rodgers and Hammerstein? Nothing, remember? Except this--eventually the training track acquired the nickname "The Oklahoma Training Track." Tell that to a group and see what happens. Invariably someone will start singing the unofficial anthem of "the sooner state" or ask if the training track was named after the R&H musical.

How did The Oklahoma Training Track get it's name? The explaination is more mundane than musical. The accepted story is that one day, someone griped that the training track was so far away from the main track, "it might as well be in Oklahoma." Seriously. That's it.

Mike Hare is the author of Saratoga Lives and a Spa City tour guide.

Find It

The Oklahoma Training Traick
East Avenue and Union Avenue
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

Comments

The track as it sits today differs slightly from the one built in 1864. In 1901 the track was taken over by management lead by William C. Whitney and the track was enlarged to 1 1/8 miles and moved to a different position, relative to Union Ave. The stands were moved after having been cut into pieces.
The clubhouse we see know was built in the late 1920's. Prior to then the clubhouse was just that, a big "house" exclusively for the use of members of the Saratoga Assn and their guests and the elite of the Jockey Club.

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