Items tagged with 'The Track'

About those fancy hats...

kate welshofer fancy track hats horseheads

The Saratoga Race Course draws people in all sorts of headwear.

By Kate Welshofer

"Let me ask you a question."

Two beers were sweating through their glass bottles last summer on a cold, metal, patio table when a man I barely knew put me on the spot. The style of his delivery fell somewhere between Dennis Miller and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, so I knew it was trouble. All I could think was, "Here we go."

Instead, what I said was: "Go ahead!"

*beat*

"It's... about the hats..."

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Season admission passes for the Saratoga Race Course now on sale

saratoga race course entrance statue jockeyAdmission passes for this summer's season at the Saratoga Race Course are now on sale. Grandstand season passes for the 40-day season are $35 each, and clubhouse season passes are $55. (Daily admission for the grandstand is $5 and $8 for the clubhouse.)

The season passes also include discounts at a group of Saratoga Springs businesses, as well as some regional attractions. Also: guaranteed admission giveaway items. Blurbage:

One of the most prominent offers included in the newly expanded Saratoga Season Perks program is the guarantee of a premium Saratoga giveaway item on the day of the giveaway, so long as the season pass or season ticket plan holder is in attendance at Saratoga Race Course and redeems the giveaway item by 3 p.m. Redemptions will begin when gates open to the general public.

The reservation process for restaurants at The Track also opened this morning via phone.

Record breaking numbers for Saratoga Race Course 2015 season

saratoga race course entrance statue jockey

At some point large numbers just become... numbers. You know, how often do we ever encounter a million of anything? So, it's easy to see some large figure quoted in a news story and just be like... yeah, sure, whatever.

We were thinking about that today while looking over the numbers for the Saratoga Race Course season that ended Monday. Because it involved some very big numbers.

NYRA reported that the "handle" for this year's season -- that is, the amount of money bet on races -- was $648,272,805, a record. (The previous record was $590,187,876, set in 2012.)

Think about that for a second. That's more than half a billion of dollars that people, both here and elsewhere, put down on horse races over the season's 40 days in Saratoga Springs. When you take a second to think about the total, it's kind of astounding. (By the way: NYRA says almost $50 million was bet on Travers Day races this year.)

Paid attendance for this year's meet was also high: 1,065,625. That's a new seasonal record total, though it comes with an asterisk. The old record -- 1,049,309 -- was set in 2003, the season for which only had 36 days.

Here are a few quick tables and charts with some more recent context for this year's Track numbers...

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The view from atop American Pharoah

What's it like to a ride along with one of the horses as it cruises around the track at the Saratoga Race Course?

The closes most of us will ever to get to finding out is a video like the one above -- the exercise rider for American Pharoah wore a Go Pro camera Friday morning during the Triple Crown winner's workout gallop around the track. (NYRA posted the video on YouTube.)

One of the things we were thinking about while watching the video wasn't about how things appeared, but about how they sound -- the thunderous hoof strikes and rushing wind, and the tide of crowd noise as the distance between the horse and the grandstand expands and contracts.

Earlier on AOA: American Pharoah? Really? Please explain.

American Pharoah? Really? Please explain.

By Greg

I have to admit that I'm not a Track person.

It makes sense to me how it could be fun for some people -- the time spent relaxing at a beautiful venue, the thrill of placing a successful bet, the majestic animals, the hats. I'm just not one of those people.

Probably as a result of not being a Track person, the recent non-stop hype about the arrival of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah for the (sold-out) Travers this weekend is a little odd to me. It's a horse. I mean, obviously, a special, accomplished horse. But, still... a horse.

So, to get a better sense of the the American Pharoah hype train as it passes through our area (Do I wave? Is that how it works?), I got in touch with my friend Robert Lee -- local sportscaster, voice of Siena Saints basketball, and avid horse racing fan.

American Pharoah. Please explain.

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Another close finish

Travers 2014 photo finish

The pic above is the photo finish image from the Travers on Saturday, won by VE Day in a late surge past Wicked Strong.

It's the third straight year the Travers, the biggest race of the season at the Saratoga Race Course, was won -- or tied -- by just a few inches.

We always love these photo finish pics. NYRA posts them online sorted by day and race.

image: NYRA

Five winning food options at the Saratoga Race Course

Shake Shack sloppy track shake

The Sloppy Track shake is reason enough to visit the track.

By Deanna Fox

Some people go to The Track (that would be Saratoga Race Course) for the horses. Some go for the thrill of gambling. Yet others go for the chance to hob-nob with celebrities and big spenders.

Me? I go for the food.

I really do love the sport of horse racing and taking in the crowds who anxiously wait to see if their chosen thoroughbred will prove victorious. But there are few places in the Capital Region where you can get such a wide array of tasty delights all within walking distance from each other.

This year more than ever, those food choices have proven more copius and harder to choose from.

To ensure you don't miss placing that two-dollar trifecta or watching your horse leave the starting gate at the bell, it's good to go in with an eating game plan. Here are five picks for food at the track...

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Saratoga Hat Day 2014

fashionable saratoga entrants

Entrants in the "Fashionable Saratoga" category.

By Kaitlin Resler

Once again the ever-stylish Kaitlin Resler was AOA's representative on the judges' panel for the Saratoga Race Course's hat contest, which was this past Sunday. Here's her recap -- with photos -- of the annual Saratoga event.

I've just started to get those pangs of worry that summer is moving fast, that it's going to be over any minute, and then I realized that track season in Saratoga just started, and there's plenty of time! That's really just the summer activity touchstone that marks the height of summer, mid-July and all.

This past Sunday I got to judge the hat contest again, with a little more insight into what to expect (last year was my first time at the contest, and my first time to the track since I was a little kid!), and yet was still blown away by all the contestants!

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As Tom Durkin arrives at the top of the stretch, five of his greatest calls

NYRA screengrab 2009 Woodward Stakes

"A dramatic stretch drive awaits ... Calvin Borel imploring his filly for more!" -- From Durkin's call of the 2009 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga, won by superstar horse Rachel Alexandra, the first filly to win the race.

By Robert Lee

Anyone who has watched horse racing, avidly or casually, over the last 30 years associates one voice with the sport more than any other: Tom Durkin. He announced this past wekeend that he will retire after 43 years calling races, the last 24 of those years as the primary announcer for the New York Racing Association. His last race at the Saratoga Race Course will be August 31.

In my opinion, Durkin is the greatest racecaller of my lifetime and there's really no one even close. He is fundamentally sound, giving the fan accurate descriptions of the horses and their positions while showing his great ability to know which horses are ready to move forward while others are "stopping badly," to borrow a favorite Durkin phrase.

Most importantly, Durkin shows a true flair for the dramatic, raising his game when the stakes are highest.

Here are clips from five of his greatest calls from his time as the voice of NYRA, as well as horse racing's Breeders' Cup...

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Wandering Dago's request for injunction against the state denied

Thumbnail image for food truck festival troy 2013 wandering dago crowdA federal judge has denied the Wandering Dago food truck's request for a preliminary injunction against the state Office of General Services and NYRA over being kept from the food vendor program at the Empire State Plaza and Saratoga Race Course this past summer.

The decision from US District Court judge Mae A. D'Agostino is after the jump. The judge's decision largely boiled down to a determination that WD waited too long to file for the injunction after originally being denied a spot at the ESP (there was a gap of about three months). JCE has more on the decision over at Capitol Confidential.

The vending season at the Track has ended for the year (of course), as has the season at the ESP.

The request for an injunction was just one part of original WD's complaint in the case. The food truck is also seeking damages and a judgement that the state's actions -- specifically, keeping the truck out of vendor programs because of the name -- is unconstitutional.

The owners of the Wandering Dago -- Andrea Loguidice and Brandon Snooks -- started the food truck last year in Schenectady. The term "dago" has been used as a slur against people of Italian descent, and sometimes people from Spain and Portugal as well. But Loguidice and Snooks have said they picked the name as a nod to their Italian heritage and an effort to reclaim the word.

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Wandering Dago food truck sues over not being allowed to vend at the ESP and Saratoga Race Course

food truck festival troy 2013 crowd outside wandering dago food truck

Wandering Dago at the food truck festival in Troy earlier this summer.

The Wandering Dago food truck has filed a lawsuit in federal court over the truck being denied the opportunity to vend at the Empire State Plaza and Saratoga Race Course this summer. In the suit, it contends the truck was bounced because of its name, an action it argues violated the owners' 1st Amendment rights.

The complaint is embedded after the jump. It lays out Wandering Dago's arguments and its view of the events that led up to its denial to vend at the ESP and Saratoga Race Course.

Here's the situation, as depicted in the lawsuit, in short:

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Whoosh... by a nose

photo finish Travers 2013

We're always a sucker for the photo finish pics from the Track. The photos make the horses look like they're traveling in warp or something. Like, whoosh! (Here's a bit about how they're taken.)

The photo above is from the finish of the Travers this past Saturday. Will Take Charge just nosed out Moreno for the win.

Numbers
Speaking of things that make our heads warp a little bit: wrapping our them around the amount of money bet on the races. NYRA reported that the "all sources handle" -- the total amount bet, wherever people were placing bets -- was $41,363,760 for the Travers Day races at the Saratoga Race Course. That was up 13 percent over last year's total. The on-track handle -- the amount bet by the 47,597 people actually at the Track: $9,672,249.

Yep, the Saratoga Race Course advertises on AOA.

photo: NYRA

Diary of a pari-mutuel clerk

saratoga pari mutuel window the millions MinkelOver at The Millions, Elizabeth Minkel is writing a diary of her time as a pari-mutuel clerk this summer at the Saratoga Race Course. A clip:

We take bets. It's the simplest explanation for a job that's more nuanced than I'd ever have guessed, before any of this, before the track was something more than a disruptive abstraction on the east side of town. I learned the basic logic of horse gambling ten years ago, hovering over a keyboard as seasoned tellers called out sample bets, struggling to understand the terminology and the different combinations, exactas and doubles, keys and partial wheels, ten-ten on the eight horse, Seabiscuit in the fifth. I've learned a lot in the intervening decade, like how to harness the patience to explain the fundamentals to a novice, or how to decipher the ramblings of a drunk. I work hard to be effortlessly adept when professional gamblers come to the windows, printed stacks of racing stats clipped together, the carefully-calculated permutations of a morning spent handicapping printed at the top in neat pencil. Each series of bets, each exchange is a single moment encapsulated: beneath the numbers, horses and dollar amounts, it's flirtation or anger or joking banter or the drudgery of playing a game only the very lucky can seem to crack.

We enjoyed reading this first part of the diary, the way Minkel reflects on the Track's presence in her hometown and her focus on some of the tiny moments there.

We're looking forward to more.

(Thanks, Darren.)

photo: Elizabeth Minkel / The Millions

"The leisure seems to have departed, but the passion for horses is as strong as ever..."

Check out this 1930s newsreel segment about Saratoga Springs and the Track. It includes some great old footage, and the ever-entertaining newsreel voiceover and music.

Also: Nostalgia is apparently a renewable resource.

[via @sdeckerphoto]

A collection of moments from Saratoga

elario photography saratoga race course sunrise

Over at the Elario Photography blog they've posted a beautiful photoset of shots from the Saratoga Race Course by "Big Joe" Elario, taken over the last three years. The set includes a lot of good moments.

Browsing through the photos is like a 3-minute trip to the Track.

Photos from Hat Day 2013 at Saratoga

saratoga race course hat day 2013 uniquely saratoga winner

The winner in the "Uniquely Saratoga" category.

Special fashion correspondent Katilin Resler was AOA's representative on the judge's panel for this year's Hat Contest at the Saratoga Race Course on Sunday. She reports back, with photos:

The whole thing was super fun! I judged with Jenny from Mamatoga and Shanna from 99.5 The River. This year contestants were encouraged to involve the 150th anniversary into their hats (although it wasn't required), so a lot of the hats and outfits did just that.
One woman wore a black antique dress from the 1800s! Another wore a yellow flower hat made by a friend (who made several of the hats worn today), and over all there was quite a good mixture of hats made by their wearers and not. One of the winners from the Uniquely Saratoga category's hat featured a horse head wearing its own hat, which she let us know was standing in as the first horse to win at Saratoga.

Here's the list of winners.

A handful of Kaitlin's photos are after the jump. The horse head hat is pretty great.

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Wandering Dago food truck bounced from The Track because of name

food truck festival troy 2013 wandering dago truck crowd

The Wandering Dago food truck at the Food Truck Festival of NY in Troy earlier this summer.

The owners of the Wandering Dago food truck -- Andrea Loguidice and Brandon Snooks -- said Saturday in a statement that the truck was bounced from the Saratoga Race Course after an "unidentified state official" complained that the truck's name is offensive. (full press release post jump)

NYRA spokesman Eric Wing told the TU it had received "several complaints" on Friday. And to the Daily Gazette: "This should have been handled before Friday, but once we received complaints, we took immediate action on behalf of our customers." And to the Saratogian: "Saratoga's a very welcoming family place. If patrons are telling us they are offended, that's important to us." [TU] [Daily Gazette] [Saratogian]

The term "dago" has been used as a slur against people of Italian descent, and sometimes people from Spain and Portugal as well. But as Snooks explained to AOA last year, the couple says they had embraced an alternative definition of the word in an effort to reclaim it:

Brandon, who's Italian, explains that he knew the term as a word used for Italian immigrant workers back in the day who wanted to "be paid as the day goes." "Day-goes" became "dago." And in parts of Italian culture, he says the word has been reclaimed as a term of endearment.
Brandon and Andrea say they chose Wandering Dago "because we wander as the day goes."

It appears others aren't ready to get on board with reclaiming the word, though. Snooks and Loguidice also say in the press release that they were "banned by the Empire State Plaza Vendor Program" this year because of the truck's name. Update: From Heather Groll, a spokeswoman for the Office of General Services, which oversees the ESP:

The food vendor in question was not banned from selling food at the Empire State Plaza. OGS has the authority and latitude to determine whether it is appropriate for any particular vendor to be issued a permit. This food truck applied for a vendor permit for the 2013 season and was not issued one. Among other reasons, it was determined that their application was not appropriate because the name of the business was found to be an offensive ethnic slur by any standard.

The food truck open last year, working primarily in Schenectady. It's since expanded its coverage area to also include other parts of the Capital Region (such as Rockin' on the River in Troy, and the Riverview Center in Menands). Snooks and Loguidice moved to the area from Colorado to open the truck.

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The Giddy Up

giddy up bus exterior

By Casey Normile

Traci Cornwell comes from a long line of entrepreneurs. Her grandparents opened Cornwell Appliance on Central Ave in Colonie over sixty years ago. And her great-grandfather owned a shuttle business in Coxsackie. So her current path probably shouldn't be a surprise.

Traci was a finalist in last year's startup grant contest with what was then called The Bridge Runner Express, a plan to transport people between Albany and Saratoga. She didn't win the grant, but the judges were big fans of her, and they liked the idea -- they just thought it needed some more development.

A little more than a year later, her idea is up and running as The Giddy Up, offering $10 rides between Albany, Clifton Park, and Saratoga for Track season -- with plans for more.

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"America's Grandest Race Course"

whmt track at saratoga

WMHT is premiering a new documentary about the Saratoga Race Course this coming Monday night at 9 pm. From the blurbage for The Track at Saratoga: America's Grandest Race Course:

This hour-long historical documentary will transport viewers through 150 years of owners, trainers, jockeys and horses. We'll experience the track beginning with four thrilling days in August 1863 and continue through the pageantry of today.

There's a short promo clip at that link above. It looks like the doc includes a bunch of old photos, which could be fun to see.

Rediscovering the Light: WMHT is re-airing its recently-premiered doc about the restoration of the state Capitol building -- Rediscovering the Light: Restoring New York's Capitol -- July 19 at 10:30 pm. And it will play again July 28, August 19, and August 23.

A few bits about the upcoming Track season

fourstardave bobblehead saratogaOpening day at the Saratoga Race Course is still about a month away -- it's July 19 -- but here are a bunch of bits about the upcoming season:

+ NYRA announced the ever-popular giveaway days today: July 28 - Saratoga t-shirt day; August 11 - Fourstardave Bobblehead; August 18 - Saratoga Race Course replica model; September 1 - Saratoga beer stein. One free with each admission, while supplies last. (And, of course, some people "spin" to get many of these because... well, you'd have to ask them that.)

+ For the first time since 2000, there will be walking tours of the Track's "front side." Blurbage: "The approximately 45 minute walking tours will provide a historical overview of the facility and showcase a number of the property's highlights, including the unique architecture, landscape and traditions that encompass the Spa." Tours will be offered on the days the Track is open -- they're $3 per person, or $10 for a group of four.

+ New this year: the "Uniquely Saratoga Marketplace" on Sundays from 10:30 am-5 pm. It will include 13 vendors of "products made exclusively in New York State." You'll recognize some of them from local farmers' markets.

+ The Travers -- the biggest race of the season -- is August 24.

image: NYRA

Shake up for horse racing in New York

horse in stable at saratoga race courseTwo important recent developments about horse racing in New York:

State takeover of NYRA
The Cuomo admin announced today (Monday) that Andrew Cuomo has signed the legislation that creates the "NYRA Reorganization Board" -- basically the committee that will carry out the three-year state takeover of NYRA, a plan that was announced this past spring. This is important because NYRA is the org that runs the Saratoga Race Course, Belmont, and Aqueduct. From the press release:

"New York State's racing industry is a major economic driver in the state, supporting thousands of jobs and attracting tourists from around the world," Governor Cuomo said. "New York taxpayers and the betting public deserve a racing industry that is managed competently and does not neglect the health and safety of the horses. The NYRA Reorganization Board will restore public trust, accountability, and transparency to the racing industry in our state, so New York can continue to offer one of the most exciting, enjoyable, safe horse racing experiences in the nation."

The reorganization board will have 17 members -- Cuomo gets to pick seven of them, the Senate and Assembly two each, and the current NYRA board five, with a chairperson nominated by Cuomo.

NYRA has been a scandal-plagued trainwreck for years, so it will be interesting to see if the state takeover smooths things out.

Horse safety
On Friday the Cuomo admin announced a series of reforms aimed at promoting the safety of horses racing on tracks in New York.

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Saratoga Race Course 2012 season, in numbers

Thumbnail image for saratoga race course entrance statue jockeyA few numbers from this year's season at The Track, which ended Monday:

+ Total attendance this year: 901,033.

+ Average daily attendance this year: 22,526 -- up .8 percent compared to last year. (The 2011 season was 39 days instead of 40 because racing was canceled one day because of Irene.)

+ The total season "all-sources handle" (the amount bet on races at Saratoga, from everywhere): $588.4 million -- the daily all sources handle average was up 9 percent compared to last year.

+ The total "on-track handle" (the amount bet at the race track itself) for the season: $128.3 million.

+ The average daily on-track handle: $3,207,356 -- up 3.3 percent compared to last year.

+ The total season on-track handle per attendee: $142.39 -- that's up 2.5 percent from last year.

All numbers via NYRA -- except for the last one, which we calculated ourselves. Some numbers have been rounded. The attendance count includes people who entered multiple times on giveaway days.

The Saratoga Race Course advertised on AOA this year.

They both won the Travers

2012 travers photo finish

We love the "whoosh" of the photo finish camera -- here's a bit on how they're created. / image: American Teletimer

If you didn't catch it this past weekend: this year's Travers Stakes ended... in a tie. The horses Alpha and Golden Ticket both crossed the line at the same time. That's the photo finish camera image up top.

Video of the race is embedded post jump, as is another photo showing how close it was.

It's the first "dead heat" in the race since 1874.

As a 2-1 favorite, Alpha's spot sharing the winner's circle wasn't unexpected (except the sharing part). But Golden Ticket was a 33-1 longshot. A $2 bet on Golden Ticket returned $26.80 -- the seventh-highest payoff in Travers History, according to NYRA.

We wonder what they're going to do with the canoe now. Update: NYRA's Twitter feed said Saturday they'd have a second canoe. (Thanks, BMC!)

NYRA says attendance for the Travers was 46,528, up a little more than 8 percent from last year. The amount bet at the Track that day -- the "handle" -- was $8.74 million, up 7 percent from last year.

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Hat Day 2012 at the Saratoga Race Course

2012 hats fashionable winners.jpg

Winners of the fashionable hat contest yesterday at Saratoga

Hat Day at the Saratoga Race Course is always fun.

People enjoy watching them pass by, and the folks who enter the contest have a great time putting their look together and showing off their creations.

On Sunday AOA teamed up with Kristi Gustafson Barlette, Matt Baumgartner, and morning show hosts Randi and Kevin from The River to judge more than 150 fabulous hats. After the jump, a look at the winners and some of the other impressive entries for the day.

Thanks to the people at the Saratoga Race Course for inviting us to judge again this year.

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A great (inexpensive) day at the track: Crystal Capritta

Crystal at the track.jpg

A fun (and affordable) day at the track with Crystal and Mike.

By Crystal Capritta

AOA is taking a little R & R this week. While we're enjoying a little summer, we've rounded up a few experts to share their tips for making summer fun simpler. Enjoy!

Mention Saratoga Race Track and many people think fancy clothes and spending a lot of money. But you can have a lot of fun at the track without spending a ton of cash.

My husband has gone to the track every summer of his life, and I've been right along with him since the first summer we met. Over the years I've won a few of the bets I've placed, and my husband has been known to hit a rare trifecta.

Here are some of our insider tips to having a good time at the track on the cheap.

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NYRA placed under "temporary public control"

Horse 1.JPGAndrew Cuomo and the legislative leaders announced today that they've agreed to create a "NYRA Reorganization Board" that will place horse racing org under direct state control. From the press release:

The NYRA Reorganization Board will be comprised of a majority of publicly appointed directors, with a Chair nominated by the Governor. The Board will be in effect for 3 years to restructure and reorganize NYRA, following which NYRA will revert back to majority private control. The current NYRA Board will be dissolved. The NYRA Reorganization Board will go into effect when a majority of the new public directors are appointed. Once appointed, the new board will conduct a national search for a new CEO and General Counsel for NYRA.

The short story behind all this: NYRA has been a train wreck.

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The 2011 Saratoga racing season, by the numbers

john velazquez saratoga 2011The 2011 racing season at the Saratoga Race Course ended Monday. Here are the final numbers from NYRA:

Total attendance: 871,772
That's down less than one percent from last year, but this year's meet included only 39 days (instead of 40) because of the Irene-canceled day. (This number includes people who entered multiple times in order to score giveaways.)

Average daily attendance: 22,353
Up almost 2 percent from last year.

Amount bet at The Track: $121,101,664
The on track "handle" was up 5.6 percent from last year.

Daily average bet at Track: $3,105,171
Up more than 8 percent from last year.

Amount bet, all sources: $526,251,818
This is amount that was bet on Saratoga races both at the Track and from simulcast locations all over the nation. It was down 4.6 percent from last year. (But, you know, still half a billion dollars.)

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Play Saratoga

play saratoga logoNYRA introduced a Facebook game called Play Saratoga today. It's being touted as a "social racing league," but as far as we can tell, it's kind of like fantasy horse betting.

Fantasy sports are so big right now that we figured there had to be fantasy horse racing/betting. There seem to be a few games -- but it doesn't look there's the wide field of options like there is for sports such as football, baseball, and... golf (really -- there's fantasy everything now).

The Saratoga game looks fairly straightforward: you're just picking races. The better your results, the more points you get, the more points the better your chances of winning prizes. Picks for a day's races have to be in before the first post time.

It starts Wednesday. It's free. And: it's not Farmville.

Jimmer, the horse

jimmer tribute wall glens fallsBecause Jimmer Mania is unstoppable, there's now a race horse named after Jimmer Fredette. It looks like "Jimmer" will make his race debut at Saratoga this season. [TU]

The backstory on the name: Pat Hammel, the wife of the basketball coach as Glens Falls HS, is on the barn staff for one of the trainers at the stable that owns the horse -- she suggested naming the colt after Fredette (sadly, they didn't go with "The Jimmer"). Hammel says the horse reminds her of Jimmer: "You look at him and you're not 100 percent sure he's an athlete, but hopefully he'll prove us all wrong like Jimmer did." [Saratogian] [Yahoo Sports]

This horse is the third thoroughbred to carry the "Jimmer" name, according to the Pedigree Online Thoroughbred Database.

What obviously has to happen now: a game of H-O-R-S-E between the two Jimmers. Come on, NYRA, let's make this happen.

Jimmer tribute in Glens Falls photo by Trampoline Design

Average attendance at Saratoga down this season

saratoga race course entranceThe season at the Saratoga Race Course ended yesterday. And the attendance and wagering numbers -- which sometimes seem to get more attention than the actual race results -- are in.

Average daily attendance at The Track was down this season, compared to last year. The numbers from NYRA:

Daily average attendance was 21,957, down 7.4 percent from 23,734 in 2009
Daily average on-track handle [the amount bet] was $2,867,329, down 7.8 percent from $3,111,274 in 2009;
Daily average all-sources handle was $13,791,518, down 3.4 percent from $14,273,257 in 2009

The total number of admissions this season (878,280) was up over last year (854,424) -- but this year's season was 40 days and last year's was 36. NYRA has broken down the numbers a few ways to compare to the 36 day season -- that's after the jump.

Get this: NYRA reports that more than $353 million was bet on races at Saratoga in August (actually at the track, or off-site somewhere) -- that was almost a third of all the money bet on horse races in the US during the month.

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Six in a row for $378k

saratoga race course entranceNYRA reports that four tickets correctly hit the Pick 6 at The Track yesterday -- and each paid out $377,883. (The Pick 6 is when a bettor tries to pick the winners of six consecutive races.)

More than $1.9 million was bet on the Pick 6 at Saratoga yesterday -- the biggest one day Pick 6 "handle" (the amount bet) since 2000. The total pool for the Pick Six was $2,368,342, the second highest total during the last 10 years. (The amount of money up for grabs carries over to the next day if no one wins.)

But get this: NYRA says none of the winning tickets was bought at Saratoga. Two were sold online, one at Connecticut OTB and one at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.

By a nose

travers 2010 photo finish

Stretch!

Check out the photo finish image from the Travers this past weekend: Afleet Express defeated Fly Down by just a nose. Here's video of the race.

Attendance and handle (the amount bet) were way up for this year's Travers, compared to last year. NYRA reports that 45,764 were at The Track on Saturday, up more than 33 percent from last year. A little more than $8.2 million was bet onsite that day (up almost 20 percent). Of course, last year's Travers Day was rainy -- and this year the weather was gorgeous.

Rachel, Rachel, Rachel Superstar horse Rachel Alexandra ran at the Track on Sunday in the Personal Ensign -- and lost. A horse called Persistently passed RA down the stretch. Persistently was 21-1 and paid $45.00 on a $2 bet to win.

By the way: in the crowd this past weekend at The Track -- a three-month-old (human) named Rachel Alexandra. After the horse. [Saratogian]

photo: NYRA

"Food is necessary to the total experience"

NYT's Glenn Collins examines Saratoga's "contradictions" by looking at its food (well, Siro's and the backstretch... mostly Siro's):

At Siro's restaurant, the 72-year-old hub of haute revelry here, men in blazers the hue of Easter eggs and women in prodigious hats addressed their $48 Cassel Farms rack of lamb. Only five minutes and an immeasurable universe away, 942 itinerant workers in T-shirts ate free stir-fried Sichuan chicken under a white party tent at the Saratoga Race Course.

There's also a slideshow and "where to eat" guide.

Rachel Alexandra coming back to Saratoga

rachel alexandraSuperstar horse Rachel Alexandra is coming back to Saratoga. She'll be racing in the Personal Ensign Stakes August 29.

Rachel (we don't think she minds the informality) was the Horse of the Year in 2009. She won eight races last year, including the Preakness (one of the Triple Crown races) -- the first filly do so in 85 years. She also had a dramatic win in the Woodward Stakes at Saratoga before a huge crowd (she's the only filly to ever win that race).

As you might expect, NYRA is stoked that RA is coming back. It's even set up a microsite for her.

photo: Adam Coglianese/NYRA

Our first taste of Shake Shack in Saratoga

Shake shack at the track

Shake Shack at the track.

The first time we tried a shack burger we were sitting outdoors at the Shake Shack in Manhattan's Madison Square Park -- in November.

Folks from the Capital Region don't get to dine in the park in November so much, so we thought the atmosphere may have contributed a lot to the experience.

The second time we tried a shack burger was this morning. In the rain. Ankle deep in the mud at the Saratoga Race Course.

Did it change the experience?

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Shake Shack coming to The Track

shake shack manhattan

One of the Shake Shacks in Manhattan.

NYRA announced today that it's signed up famed restaurateur Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group to create a "unique culinary experience" at the Saratoga Race Course. Translation: they're opening a Shake Shack and a Blue Smoke.

The two stands will be built near the paddock saddling area, along with a new bar.

shake shack burgerThe first Shake Shack opened in Manhattan in 2004 and the stands have since turned into "an accidental empire of fast food." Blue Smoke is a barbecue place. It's been well reviewed (graded on a New York City barbecue curve, of course).

We've eaten at one of the Shake Shacks in Manhattan. The burger was very good -- the fries were OK (+1 for crinkles). It reminded us a bit of In-N-Out Burger.

We're not sure we'd stampede to The Track for a Shack Burger, but we'd be very happy to eat one if we were already there.

State delaying refund checks, Save the Y rally, father of American Idol judge to challenge Kirsten Gillibrand, Hasbrouck makes NBA

save the y rally

From yesterday's Save the Y rally -- here's a photoset from Sebastien B.

David Paterson says the state is delaying the distribution tax refund checks in order to keep the state afloat. Paterson and legislative leaders are finally meeting to negotiate the budget. [TU] [TU]

Paterson said yesterday that "we wouldn't project that the Saratoga racing season is in jeopardy at this point." Members of the racing industry have said recently the Saratoga season could be in doubt because of problems with New York City OTB and the stalled-again Aqueduct racino. [YNN]

Paterson signed The Family Health Care Decisions Act yesterday, which allows family members and close friends to make decisions on behalf of a patient who lacks capacity. The law has broad support, but was hung up in the legislature for 17 years. [YNN] [TU]

More than 100 people showed up yesterday for the Save the Y rally outside the Washington Ave location in Albany (photo above -- more photos here). Protesters criticized the Capital District YMCA and city officials for their handling of the location's now-imminent closure. A spokesman for the Y says it "just wasn't possible" to keep the location open. [Fox23] [Sebastien B] [TU] [YNN]

Day 11 of the Steven Raucci trial focused on testimony by former Schenectady school district athletic director Gary DiNola, who testified that an un-exploded device left on his car and vandalism of his house had "terrorized" his family. The testimony featured a heated exchange between DiNola and Raucci's lawyers, who objected to his characterization of the situation. Emails introduced as evidence indicated Raucci at one point wrote to DiNola: "I'm not a tolerant person to begin with. I'm even less tolerant of people who show me disrespect." In an email from DiNola to district superintendent Eric Ely, DiNola said that he had "learned to park my beat-up Volvo in front of the security cameras near the loading dock." [Daily Gazette $] [TU] [Fox23] [CBS6]

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Washington Ave Y closing, track season at Saratoga threatened, little hope for on-time budget, police say teen party caused $200k in damage

The Washington Ave YMCA will close March 31, according to a letter dated March 11 from Capital District YMCA president David Brown. The letter cites the $400,000 annual loss from the Washington Ave location and calls the decision to close the branch "very painful and difficult." The Y has said the location has been losing money for the last two decades. [Save the Y Facebook] [TU] *

A state police report on the fatal police car crash on Madison Ave in Albany last summer concludes that both drivers were at fault, according to the APD. The primary fault was laid with the civilian driver, who the report concludes failed to yield to the oncoming police car. The driver has said she didn't hear the car's siren (the report concluded the car's siren was on). The report says "secondary contributing factor" to the crash was the "failure to drive with reasonable care for all persons using the highway" on the part of APD officer Christopher Orth. [Troy Record] [WTEN] [TU] [Fox23]

Leaders of New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc say "there will be no Saratoga race meet this summer" if that state doesn't find a way to get $15 million to NYRA -- either by fixing the bankrupt NYC OTB or finding a new winning bidder for the Aqueduct racino contract. Saratoga business owners are anxiously watching the situation. [NYTB] [TU] [WTEN]

Potential bidders for the Aqueduct racino apparently believe that the contract is step towards the legalization of casino gambling in New York State. [NYT]

Troy police say they're investigating the shooting of a 14-year-old Saturday night. They say the gunfire was picked up by the ShotSpotter system. [WTEN] [Fox23]

State police say a man pulled over for driving the wrong way on 787 Saturday afternoon had a blood alcohol level almost three times the legal limit. [WNYT] [YNN] CapNews9 is now YNN

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Cuomo hands off Paterson investigation, movie theater planned for Troy, Porco conviction upheld, bizarre chase ends in tasering

Andrew Cuomo has handed off the investigation of the Paterson administration to former chief judge Judith Kaye. Cuomo said a "preliminary review" of the situation concluded "there are credible issues to be resolved." He said he was turning the investigation over to Kaye because of an "abundance of caution, or a zeal to ensure that the public has total confidence in the investigation." (The sharp drop in Cuomo's approval rating in a recent poll might also have had something to do with that.) Kaye has never worked as a prosecutor. She won't be paid to head up the investigation. [NYT] [TU] [Daily Politics] [NY Mag] [NYT] [Daily Politics]

The Paterson administration announced that the tentative agreement with AEG to run a racino at Aqueduct is now off the table. The deal would have paid the state $300 million and revenue from the racino would have helped fund NYRA -- including improvements at Saratoga. That has some now saying that this year's season at The Track could be in jeopardy. [NYT] [TU] [Saratogian] [Saratogian]

Testimony in the Steven Raucci trial yesterday focused an explosive device that attached to the door of a Rotterdam home in 2001. Prosecutors allege that Raucci planted the device in attempt to retaliate over a union matter -- but they say he put it on the wrong house. [Daily Gazette $] [TU]

The Saratoga County sheriff's deputy accused of forcing four women to perform sex acts on him while he was on duty took a plea bargain yesterday. The deal includes six months in jail and a resignation from the sheriff's department. He won't have to register as a sex offender. [Daily Gazette $] [CBS6] [WNYT] [Saratogian]

A $160 million development proposed for the Congress-Ferry corridor in Troy includes a movie theater. The city's planning board also gave the official OK to the new Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, which is now expected to open in August. [TU Places and Spaces] [Troy Record] [Fox23] [CapNews9]

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Holiday work for SPD union head, bar busted for being jammed with underage drinkers, dog granted order of protection, telethon raises $1.9 million

The head of the Schenectady police union worked for the department on just three days last year -- all of them holidays at 2.5 pay. [Daily Gazette $] [TU]

A state Supreme Court judge has denied the FOIL request submitted by the Daily Gazette and TU for the Schenectady school districts internal report on Steven Raucci. The judge ruled the report was not subject to FOIL and its release could be an invasion of witnesses' privacy. [Daily Gazette $] [TU]

Schenectady County legislature chairwoman Sue Savage is proposing legislation that would require calorie counts on the menus of chain restaurants. Five NY counties -- including Albany County -- and New York City already have such a law. The law would only apply to restaurants with 15 or more locations in the county. [WNYT] [TU] [CapNews9]

The Paterson Administration has finally picked an operator for the Aqueduct racino -- the revenues from which should help fund a bunch of improvements at Saratoga's track. That is, if the money actually comes in. [Paterson] [Saratogian] [NYT]

David Paterson has just $620k on hand right now to spend in a Democratic gubernatorial primary -- Andrew Cuomo has $12 million. But Paterson says he'll raise a lot more. [NYDN] [NY Post]

The smoke-filled room -- which was in Albany this past weekend -- appears to be leaning heavily toward Andrew Cuomo. [WNYT] [TU]

An assemblywoman from Long Island topped the legislature's travel reimbursement list for last year at more than $41,000. [TU]

Saratoga Springs' police chief says budget cuts will make it hard to assign officers to efforts that led to many arrests last year. [Post-Star]

The State Liquor Authority has suspended the liquor license of The Garage, a bar at the corner of Western and Quail in Albany, after a raid last week allegedly found 500 people -- "most appearing to be underage" -- jammed into a space certified for 250. The SLA says the bar had so many it customers it drafted some to be "guest bartenders." The bar's owner wasn't commenting publicly on the raid. The bar is located in the middle of the "student ghetto" -- and the previous operations there have also been tagged for serving minors . [NYSLA] [TU] [Dowd on Drinks]

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Legislature is back, concern for natural childbirth program, possible challenger for Tedisco or Farley, Luna found

The legislature is back in session today. Among the topics that may -- or may not -- come up: lifting the cap on the number of charter schools in the state, which would open the way for $700 million in federal education aid. [CapNews9] [TU]

The bankruptcy attorney for Sandy Horowitz says the Troy landlord intends to keep all his buildings in the city. Horowitz owes the city more than $600k in taxes on his properties, which include the Cannon Building. [TU]

The St. Peter's/Northeast Health/Seton Health merger has prompted questions about the future of Seton's natural childbirth program. [TU]

The Loudonville rabbi accused of inappropriately touching two boys has pleaded guilty to child endangerment. He admitted to a judge that he had inappropriate physical contact with the boys and told one of them to lie about the incident. As part of the plea deal, he could get 60 days in jail and three years of probation. [TU] [CapNews9] [WTEN]

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Jurors watch video of father's admission, teacher alleges assessment test cheating, reported indictment in alleged plot against former DA, bank moves to foreclose on Cannon Building

Jurors in the trial of Adrian Thomas, the Troy man accused of causing the death of his infant son, watched video of his interrogation yesterday in which he demonstrated how he threw his son down on a bed. The demonstration came after hours of interrogation and a good cop/bad cop routine by Troy police detectives. Thomas' defense is arguing the admission was coerced. [WTEN][TU] [Troy Record]

NYRA has extended next year's Saratoga racing season by four days -- for a total of 40 days. The extended season will include a Grade 1 stakes race that was previously held at Belmont. Saratoga business owners seemed pretty happy about the longer season. [TU] [Post-Star] [Saratogian]

Downtown Saratoga business owners aren't so happy about the proposed plan for paid parking. [Saratogian]

One of the teachers who alleges that she was being secretly videotaped at an Albany charter school has accused the school of letting students cheat on assessment tests. The executive director of the Brighter Choice foundation, which backs the school, says they're looking into the "serious allegations." [Troy Record] [CapNews9]

Albany police say a 19-year-old was stabbed in the Grand Street neighborhood yesterday afternoon (map). The man was reportedly in critical condition last night. Police say it appears the stabbing was part of a street fight. Neighbors held a peace vigil near the scene of the crime yesterday evening. [CBS6] [CapNews9] [Fox23] [TU]

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"There'll be no free ride for Rachel Alexandra!"

Here's the video of Saturday's Woodward Stakes -- featuring the all-everything horse Rachel Alexandra -- at The Track. The finish was exciting:

There was a crowd of 31,171 at The Track on Saturday, according to NYRA.

Total attendance for the season (854,413) was down about two percent this year compared to last year. And the amount bet onsite (about $112 million) was also off about two percent.

Teen shot while riding bike, council president candidate accused of sexual harassment, attendance down slightly at Track, demolition begins on Wellington

Police say a teenager was shot in the leg as he rode his bike through Albany's West Hill neighborhood on Saturday (map). Police say they don't have a suspect. [TU] [Fox23]

Lenny Ricchiuti -- head of the Albany Police Athletic League and a candidate for Common Council president -- has been accused of sexual harassment by a former PAL employee. Ricchiuti is running against Carolyn McLaughlin for the Common Council presidency. [TU] [TU]

The Bethlehem police officer who's accused the town's police chief of using a racial slur has had his service weapons taken away -- the town cited the officer's "emotional state.". [TU]

Critics of Albany's charter schools say the schools score better on state tests because they have lower numbers of special education students. [TU]

Andrew Cuomo is expected to announce that his office has not found any evidence that a special unit of the state police had been assembled to gather information about politicians. The issue rose out of the "Troopergate" dispute between Joe Bruno and Eliot Spitzer. [NYT] [AP/Troy Record]

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Second murder in Albany this month, Summer Bird wins Travers, hospital employees required to get flu shots, party invitation causes kerfuffle

2nd Street murder

The scene outside 327 Second Street in Albany, where police say a man was shot and killed this past weekend during a party. (Photo by Paul Esmond)

Albany police say a Troy man was shot and killed in a basement apartment in West Hill early Sunday morning (map). There apparently had been a party at the house. Police say they don't have suspects or a motive, yet. It was the fifth murder in Albany this year. [TU] [Troy Record] [Fox23 [WNYT]

Police have arrested another suspect in this month's Western Ave murder in Albany. This second suspect, who's been charged with second degree murder, just turned 16. [WNYT] [TU]

Summer Bird won the Travers by 3.5 lengths on Saturday. The horse also won the Belmont and is the son of Marylou Whitney's Birdstone, who also won the Belmont and Travers in 2004. Rain kept attendance to 34,221 -- the smallest crowd in 30 years. Among those in attendance: David Paterson. [CapNews9] [Post-Star] [Saratogian] [CapNews9]

Backstretch workers at The Track still haven't seen most of the money a state investigation concluded is owed to them by horse trainers. [TU]

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State AG's office investigating Espada, man pleads guilty to killing son, CDTA trimming routes, Mine That Bird out of Travers

Andrew Cuomo's office is investigating whether Pedro Espada was something less than forthcoming when filling out a form for a $3 million state grant for his Bronx health care org. [TU]

David Paterson signed a bill that makes it illegal in most cases to shackle a prison inmate during childbirth. [AP/CBS6]

Glenn Vosburgh, the Coeymans man accused of killing his son last spring, pleaded guilty to manslaughter yesterday in a deal that will send him to prison for 19 years. Vosburgh said he was intoxicated when he shot his son in the back. [TU] [Fox23] [CapNews9]

Last night's Schenectady school board meeting included pointed criticism from the crowd as Linda Bellick, who lost in the last board election, was appointed to fill a recently vacated spot. Bellick's remarks during the meeting were stopped by the district's attorney after Bellick started talking about the not-publicly-released Steven Raucci report. [WNYT] [TU]

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Rudy leaning toward run for governor, attorney accused of ripping off clients, Giants could be leaving for good, Rachel Alexandra will race at Saratoga, fire truck for sale

People "close" to Rudy Giuliani say the former NYC mayor is leaning toward a run for governor. Giuliani has apparently told "associates" that he'll make up his mind within the next two months. Giuliani trails Andrew Cuomo 53-40 in a hypothetical gubernatorial matchup, according to the latest Siena poll. [NYDN] [NYT] [AOA]

The head of the state Republican Party is stepping down. Giuliani apparently was one of the people who pushed him out, which is another reason observers think Rudy is planning a run for governor. [Daily Politics] [NYT]

The federal Department of Justice says New York State's four juvenile prisons routinely use excessive force on their residents. That approach has led to an "alarming" number of injuries, according to the DOJ report. [NYT] [TU]

A Saratoga Springs attorney was arrested yesterday on charges that he ripped off more than $400k from clients. Police say he took the money as part of two real estate transactions. The attorney has pled not guilty. [TU] [Saratogian] [Fox23]

A Colonie lawyer says he was fired from his job with state Senate Democrats after decided to run for town justice on the Republican ticket. [TU]

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Dredging starts up again, Espada says no quid pro quo for son's job, rally for post office, horse prices up at Saratoga sale

The Hudson River PCB dredging project has started up again. Officials say they'll be working slowly in an attempt to prevent PCB levels from spiking. The PCB spikes have prompted some "told you so" from dredging opponents. [NYT] [TU] [CapNews9]

The Schenectady County legislature has voted to ban BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups. Albany County passed a similar ban earlier this week. [TU]

Pedro Espada said yesterday that the $120k/year state Senate job created for his son (Pedro G. Espada) is "not the result of a quid pro quo or a contingency to my ending the Senate stalemate." An unnamed state Senate Democrat called the younger Espada "lazy and not so smart." Big Pedro, who's know the Senate majority leader, apparently tried to hire his son directly, but ethics rules prohibit senators hiring family members. [PolitickerNY] [NY Post] [TU]

New York State will be giving people on welfare $200/child to help with back-to-school costs. A total of 800,000 kids will get grants. The cash comes from federal stimulus money snagged with the help of $35 million from George Soros. Dean Skelos called the plan "ripe for fraud and abuse." [CapNews9] [Fox23] [AP/Troy Record]

The number of new homes being constructed in the Capital Region is way down -- because of the economy, but maybe also because of changing buyer preferences. [TU]

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Friend says man killed by police suffered from mental illness, unease over state worker buyouts, judge pleads guilty to DWAI, big year for apples

A family friend says the man shot and killed by Schenectady police this past weekend suffered from mental illness. The man's brother says the SPD should have used non-lethal force. [Daily Gazette $] [CapNews9]

Workers at GE Energy in Schenectady approved a new contract with the company that includes no layoffs for two years -- and clears the way for a new battery factory that could add 350 jobs. In return, the union is forgoing cost of living raises for the next two years. [WNYT] [CapNews9] [TU]

The Hudson River dredging project has started up again after tests indicated that PCB levels in the water had dropped below the set limit. The EPA is blaming fast-moving currents for the spike. Officials from some downstream communities say the EPA was slow to notify them of the test results. [Troy Record] [TU] [Post-Star]

New York State has finally paid the property taxes it owed on The Track -- almost $478k. The payment was six months late. Apparently the state is exempt from having to pay late fees. The state started paying property taxes on The Track after it took ownership of the property from NYRA. [Daily Gazette $] [Saratogian] [TU] [Post-Star]

Lack of information about the $20k retirement buyout is upsetting state workers. [TU]

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The scene at Saratoga

cowboy hats.JPG

Look, it's the littlest cowboy.

The weather cooperated for breakfast at The Track this morning. AOA woke up at the crack of dawn and headed north to check out the scene.

Here's a little of what we saw.

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Opening day at The Track, child dies after being hit by police vehicle, bill would allow supermarket wine sales, Schenectady could turn down money for cops, tanker spills milk on I-90

It's opening day at The Track. Racing starts at 1 pm.

The state Department of Labor says it will be continuing to scrutinize whether trainers are paying overtime and minimum wage to backstretch workers. An investigation the agency conducted last year found that adequate records were not being kept and many workers were not getting full compensation. [Fox23] [Saratogian] [Post-Star]

Many businesses in Saratoga are pulling for a strong track season -- the city's finance commissioner said the season is "like our Christmas." Hotels in Saratoga are apparently almost completely booked up for this weekend. [Daily Gazette] [TU]

A child died in Troy yesterday after being hit by unmarked police vehicle. Police say the vehicle was not responding to an emergency. There are reports the child might have entered the street between two parked cars. The city says it's conducting an investigation. [Troy Record] [Fox23] [CapNews9] [TU]

A bill has been proposed in Albany County would require chain restaurants to post calories counts on menus. One of the supporters of the bill is Panera -- the chain says its local restaurants already have plans to post calorie counts. [Albany County] [TU] [Fox23]

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Ravitch appointment temporarily unblocked, Schenectady woman set on fire, New York State owes back taxes on The Track, man saved by Pork Chop

A state appellate judge has temporarily blocked the injunction that blocked Richard Ravitch from acting as lieutenant governor. Republicans get a chance on Monday to argue that Ravitch should be re-blocked. The fight over the constitutionality of Ravitch's appointment could drag on for months -- and will probably end up in the Court of Appeals, New York's highest court. [AP/CapNews9] [NYT] [NYDN]

Schenectady police say a woman was set on fire last night during what appears to have been an argument. Police say the woman was in so much pain that she wasn't able to give them any details about the attack. [Daily Gazette] [TU] [CBS6]

Said Ron Kim during his announcement yesterday that he's running for mayor of Saratoga Springs: "There is nothing wrong with this city that can't be fixed." Kim says his administration would focus on open government, fixing the city budget and a new public safety building. Kim, a Democrat, will face Republican incumbent Scott Johnson. The two candidates were already doing some trash talking yesterday. [Saratogian] [TU] [CapNews9]

The three Democrats running for mayor of Albany will be at a candidate forum tonight at St. Sophia's. The forum will focus on senior citizens issues and will include a Q&A session. [TU] [CapNews9]

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Judge orders state Senate back to work, Paterson warns of another fiscal shortfall, trans-fat ban adjusted, police get DNA evidence from soda bottle

A state Supreme Court judge ordered the state Senate -- both caucuses -- into session today. The judge scolded senators for their behavior and said they risked appearing "rude, inconsiderate and egotistical." Democrats say they'll show up for the session (though they're promising not to take up anything controversial) and the Republicans have already filed an appeal. If the Senate doesn't take action a handful of measures will expire tonight, including sales tax extensions in many counties. [NYT] [Daily Politics] [NYDN] [TU]

If it seems like the Senate mess would put incumbents at risk of being thrown out of office... well, behold the power of pork. [TU]

At the NY Conference of Mayors meeting yesterday in Saratoga, David Paterson said that state tax revenues "may be down 35 percent this year from where they were projected." [Post-Star]

Police say two men were shot on Kent Street in Albany yesterday afternoon (map). Witness says four people jumped out of car, ran up to a porch and started shooting. [TU] [Fox23]

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State Senate paralyzed by drama, plane plucked from Mohawk, Albany sewers maxed out, moose on the loose

As had been rumored, Hiram Monserrate switched back to the Democratic caucus yesterday and now the state Senate is split 31-31. Result: no one knows what the hell is going on. The two parties discussed a power-sharing arrangement, but couldn't come up with a deal. They're now looking to the courts to settle things> -- and it sounds like the judiciary would really rather not do that. [NYT] [NYDN] [NYT]

The situation puts the state in a "constitutional crisis" as there's no clear way for the Senate to function. Also muddled: the line of succession to the governorship. [Buffalo News]

The Republicans + Democrat Pedro Espada showed up in the Senate chamber yesterday, but couldn't do anything official because they were one short of a quorum. Democrats are now threatening to sue Espada because, they say, he violated a court-issued injunction against acting as Senate pro tem. [Daily Politics] [CapNews9]

John Sampson, the new leader of the Senate Democrats, is being credited with bringing Monserrate back into the caucus. [TU]

A crew pulled the small private plane that crashed into the Mohawk near Glenville out of the river yesterday. The victims were also identified -- one was a former Bollywood actor turned real estate developer. Officials aren't sure what caused the crash. [Daily Gazette] [TU]

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Special election candidates fight over what's pork, SPAC director's salary in spotlight, man accused of threatening garbagmen with cleaver, new job for McNulty

The two major party candidates for the 20th Congressional District, Jim Tedisco and Scott Murphy, went back and forth at each other yesterday over the federal stimulus bill. The super condensed version -- Tedisco: it's pork; Murphy: no, it's not. Tedisco, who said this week that he would not have voted for the stimulus bill, also said he would have voted for it -- if he could have amended it. [CapNews9] [Troy Record]

Schenectady mayor Brian Stratton says he wants to fire five of the city's cops. The city hasn't successfully fired a cop since 1982. [Daily Gazette]

Organizers of the Dalai Lama's visit to Albany say the event will "change the face of Albany if the population of Albany embraces it and gets excited about and really understands the fortitude of something like this coming to this city..." The organizers of the visit are connected to a Clifton Park management training program that's been accused of being a cult. [TU]

Steven Raucci, the Schenectady School District employee accused of arson and terrorism, has filed an application for retirement. He's currently on suspension without pay. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

The salary for Marcia White, SPAC's executive director, is catching criticism after a survey revealed that the leaders of other local arts organization make much less. White was paid $244,865 in 2006. [Daily Gazette]

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State tax refunds a little slow this year, number of prostitution arrests up, accused horse stabber offered plea deal, clerk pleads guilty to ripping off city, there's a new Miss Limerick

The state Department of Taxation and Finance says state tax refunds have been a little slower to go out this year because it's screening refunds more carefully. [TU]

A deal between David Paterson and the leaders of the legislature is reportedly in the works that would kill the proposed taxes on soda, digital downloads and a bunch of other "fun" transactions. [Daily Politics]

The company that said it would run the racino at Aqueduct has told the state it now can't get financing to pay the contract fee. That means less revenue for the state -- and for less money for NYRA, which uses racino money to prop up racing at Saratoga and the state's other tracks. [NYT] [Saratogian]

Two unnamed sources tell the TU that an Albany police sergeant told Bethlehem cops to back off an APD detective the night the detective is accused of driving drunk from Albany into Delmar. The sergeant has been suspended, though the reason has been made public. [TU]

Apparently the Capital Region is a "fertile" area for prostitution -- and, in part as a result, arrests are up. [TU]

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One Schenectady suicide reportedly prompted chain of attempts, Morris officially in the pool for Albany mayor, parents sue bars for $12 million, UAlbany student robbed at gunpoint

The suicide of a 17-year-old in Schenectady last fall appears to have started a chain reaction of five other suicide attempts -- two of which led to deaths. All five of the teens who subsequently attempted suicide apparently used the same method as the first teen. [Daily Gazette]

The heads of both the Albany Police Officers Union and the union's parent organization say they will not testify under oath about the ghost ticket scandal at tonight's meeting of the Albany Common Council. That may lead the council to take the unusual step of issuing a subpoena to the APOU's president. [TU]

Albany Common Council President Shawn Morris officially announced on Sunday that she's running for mayor. Morris says she wants to "open up City Hall to the people who own it." Morris has served on the council for 15 years. [Fox23] [TU] [CapNews9]

Rumors have apparently been circulating that Schenectady officials are talking about dissolving the city's troubled police force. After a Schenectady police sergeant reportedly left work during a shift to go to the dentist this past week, mayor Brian Stratton says he personally told two shifts of SPD officers that it was time to get their act together. [TU]

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The Steelers' success started in... Saratoga?

art rooney statue

Art Rooney, the guy in the middle (the bronze one), could really pick 'em.

Yep, it's true. Or, at least -- like most good stories -- it's probably true.

Legend has it that Art Rooney, the founder of the Steelers, was able to afford the $2,500 NFL franchise fee after a longshot came in for him at the Saratoga Race Course in 1933.

But get this: that wasn't even Rooney's best day at Saratoga. He had an even bigger score four years later. In fact, it may have been the best day anyone has ever had at Saratoga.

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APD searching possible Bailey murder witness, school districts says cuts will be hard to cover, union says layoffs will endanger public safety, bike registration proposed

Albany police are looking for what they hope is another witness to the murder of UAlbany student Richard Bailey. The APD says a white Volvo drove by the scene at S. Lake and Yates at about the same time Bailey was shot. The commander who's in charge of the department's detectives says the Bailey investigation is still a "very, very active investigation." [TU]

Local school districts say it would be difficult to cover the hole left David Paterson's proposed mid-year cuts in state aid to schools. [TU]

Democrat Doug Wait has been declared the winner in the race for Saratoga Springs city court judge. Wait topped Republican Matt Dorsey by a margin of 333 votes after all the absentee ballots were counted -- a margin made up mostly of votes from Skidmore's precinct. Wait is the first Democrat to ever be elected to the position in Saratoga Springs. [TU] [Daily Gazette] [Saratogian]

The state Department of Transportation says it will close the Route 9P bridge across Saratoga Lake for 9 months starting in the Fall of 2010 so a new bridge can be built in its place. Closing the bridge -- as opposed to building next to it -- will save the project $5 million. Local business owners say closing the bridge will severely hurt their businesses. [TU] [Daily Gazette] [Saratogian]

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Gillibrand and Treadwell talk about economy, texting while driving ban proposed, Saratoga shops concerned about police overtime, a new supermarket moving in?

Much of last night's debate between Kirsten Gillibrand and Sandy Treadwell focused on the economy. Gillibrand said insufficient government regulation played a role in the financial meltdown (video clip) -- she also talked about why she didn't support the bailout bill (Treadwell says he didn't, either). Also discussed: Gillibrand's involvement with Altria dating back to her time as a corporate lawyer. Treadwell said Gillibrand's involvement with the tobacco company "is a question of judgment" (video clip). [TU] [WMHT] [WMHT]

The chairwoman of the Schenectady County legislature has proposed a ban on texting while driving in the county. Three other NY counties currently have such bans. [TU]

Albany police say they're making "slow progress" on the investigation into the shooting death of UAlbany student Richard Bailey. The two young adults seen riding away from the scene on bikes apparently are now considered to be involved, but not suspects. [TU]

The APD says a group of teens has been behind a string of car break-ins throughout the city's Pine Hills neighborhood. There have been 100 of these break-ins since the summer, including 12 this week. [TU] [FOX23]

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Cops crack down on another Albany HS brawl, NYRA bankruptcy ending, airport asks if you're experienced, Alive at Five alcohol ban proposed, something stinks at Yaddo

There was another throwdown among Albany High School students yesterday along Quail Street. The cops were waiting this time -- with pepper spray, batons and horses. It looked like a crazy scene. (AOA's gotten email from witnesses that this is the third time this week these fights have erupted.) So what's going on? "It's a little bit of everything," one teen told the TU. [CBS6] [CBS6] [TU]

It looks like NYRA will emerge from bankruptcy today. New York State will be giving the racing org $105 million in return for the deeds to the Saratoga, Belmont and Aqueduct tracks. [Saratogian] [TU]

There's a new color-coded security line set-up at the airport, with separate lanes for families, "casual" travelers and "expert" travelers. The sorting is supposed to help move people through the security line faster. [Daily Gazette] [TU]

Remember that big steroids investigation being prosecuted by David Soares and Albany County prosecutors? Seventeen people have pled guilty in that investigation, but yesterday a judge tossed the indictments of five people at the center of the drug ring. [TU]

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Track numbers a little damp, two homicides over the weekend, Live Nation blames the fans, Rt 7 construction gearing up, Albany TV market slips

Attendance at The Track this year was down almost 10 percent from last year and the amount bet was down a little more than 7 percent. [Daily Gazette]

There were two homicides over the holiday weekend. On Saturday, a 17-year-old was fatally stabbed near Beverwyck Park in Albany. It was Albany's eighth homicide of the year. On Monday, a Schenectady man was shot and killed inside a house. It was Schenectady's sixth homicide of the year. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

Live Nation, the company that runs the pop music shows at SPAC, says fans are partly to blame for miserable conditions on the lawn there. Live Nation's last concert of the year at SPAC was Crue Fest on Friday -- four people were arrested being a bit too motley. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

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AMD still won't commit, some backstretch workers only make $5 per hour, woman hit by car while sitting in office, Schenectady has its pick of teachers, Saratoga restaurants short-handed

The chairman of AMD was in Malta yesterday to tour the site of the proposed chip fab plant (also there: Joe Bruno). Hector Ruiz said a decision on the project is likely to come by the end of the year. Later at a private gathering in Saratoga, Ruiz reportedly said the company is hopeful it will commit to the Malta project. [TU] [Saratogian]

The New York Department of Labor figures that 80 percent of backstretch workers at The Track have been shorted on pay. Some have been making as little as five bucks an hour. The president of a trainers association says he and other trainers thought they were in compliance with labor laws. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

The Albany Police Department detective say the suspect in the January Delaware Ave triple murder confessed to the crime and then hugged him. The suspect's attorney is trying to get the statement thrown out. [TU]

A concrete septic tank has blocked two lanes of traffic on southbound 787 at exit 9 this morning. [CBS6]

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Something stinks on the backstretch, workers overcome by fumes, schools big into bilingual, scholarship participation yanked over scuffling football coach, paying more at the dollar store

As if shoveling horse manure all day wasn't bad enough, the New York State Department of Labor says many backstretch workers at The Track are not only not getting paid overtime, they're not even making minimum wage. The labor department says horse trainers, who employ the backstretch workers, are engaged in "widespread violations labor law." [TU]

Two workers for Precision Industrial Maintenance in Schenectady were overcome by toxic fumes yesterday when they stepped inside a tanker truck used to collect raw sewage. Both were taken to the hospital in critical condition. Precision was cited for violating workplace safety rules on a different project earlier this year. [Daily Gazette] [TU]

A plan to turn an apartment building in Troy's Little Italy neighborhood into housing for homeless people with mental illnesses is catching flak from residents of the area. They say they're worried the building could hold back the neighborhood's revitalization. [TU]

Two crime reports from locations you don't normally see them from: a stabbing in Niskayuna and shots fired in Glenmont. [CBS6] [TU]

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Colonel John wins Travers, Democratic candidates for McNulty's nod heads, local sewer systems need help, California produce shipments to start soon, Round Lake protects its organ

Colonel John won the Travers this past weekend, beating out Mambo in Seattle by a nose. The canoe in the infield pond has already been painted the colors of Colonel John's silks, green and white. Almost 41,000 people showed up for the Travers this year, and bet almost $8.3 million (the total with off-track betting $37 million). [TU] [Saratogian] [CBS6]

The Saratoga PD had double the normal number of cops on the street Saturday night to handle the post-Travers crowd, in fine form after 12 hours of drinking. One guy pushed a police horse several times before being arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. [Daily Gazette]

The Democratic candidates for the 21st Congressional District (McNulty's seat) agreed on many topics last night at a debate: opposition to off-shore drilling, investment in renewable energy, sign stealing is bad. They disagreed on: a carbon tax, whether Tonko supported energy deregulation, whether Tracey Brooks was a lobbyist. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

The US Olympic synchronized swimming team, co-captained by Troy's Kim Probst, finished fifth in Beijing. [Troy Record]

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Gary Vaynerchuk in Saratoga tomorrow

Gary VaynerchukInternet-famous, and at this point famous-famous, wine expert Gary Vaynerchuk will be giving a free lesson on champagne tomorrow morning at The Track.

If the bubbles don't get you going, Gary probably will. His popular Wine Library TV episodes are, well, effervescent. This is a guy who got Conan O'Brien to lick rocks in an attempt to develop his wine palate.

Vaynerchuk's session starts Friday morning at 8:30 on the clubhouse porch. But keep your eye open around town -- it looks Gary V is already in Saratoga.

photo: Wine Library TV

Legislature cuts $1 billion, many in Rensselaer didn't have flood insurance, rider dies at The Track, Troy official's ability to spell questioned, adults argue over basketball hoop, OMG! Brian Stratton loves texting

The state legislature has agreed to cut about $1 billion from the state budget over the next two years, including a little more than $400 million from this year's budget. That falls short of David Paterson's $600 million goal. The cuts include $50 million in member items (that would be pork). [TU]

Paterson will be speaking at the Democratic National Convention next week in Denver. [NYT]

FEMA maps indicate that most of the City of Rensselaer is in a flood zone, but only six of the 60 homes and business affected by the recent flooding have flood insurance. One resident says no one told them they were in a flood zone. [WNYT]

An exercise rider at The Track died yesterday after being thrown from a horse Monday. [Saratogian]

Local colleges and universities are facing a housing crunch. Students are being forced to live in lounges and tripled up in rooms intended for doubles. [TU]

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Rensselaer flood damage adds up, Dare gets five years in prison, unemployment rate up, horse escapes from The Track, big year for mushrooms, Larkfest grows

The mayor of Rensselaer says the city suffered more than $20 million in damages during the flooding on Monday. He says the city doesn't have the money to cover the damages and it's looking for help from the state and federal governments. [TU]

One-time Albany community leader Aaron Dare was sentenced to more than five years in prison yesterday for his involvement in a string of fraudulent real estate deals. [TU]

The Capital Region's unemployment rate hit 5 percent in July, that's up from 4.1 percent over the same period last year. The area has had a net loss of 1,000 jobs over that period. [TU] [Biz Review]

The Governor's state police security detail will now be allowed to stop supervision of the Gov only after getting a signed order from him. The new rule was prompted by Eliot Spitzer's verbal dismissal of his security detail during his rendezvous with a prostitute in DC. [NYP]

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Too much rain in Rensselaer, Bruno will be interfacing with officials, YouTube vigilante, tunnel found in Stockade, Curlin owner issues challenge to Big Brown

State DEC officials say it looks like the recent flooding in Rensselaer was just the result of too much rain in too short a period of time. Rensselaer city leaders had been questioning whether development in the Greenbushes had overwhelmed the area's drainage system. The National Weather Service in Albany estimates Rensselaer got up to 6 inches of rain on Monday. [TU]

Joe Bruno has registered as a lobbyist with New York State. By law, he's not allowed to lobby the legislature for two years, but he says he will be "interfacing" with officials in the executive branch for his job as CEO of a computer services company. [TU]

Time on the $100 million Blue Gene supercomputer at RPI will be available free to New York State businesses -- if they can figure out how to use it. [Biz Review] [Daily Gazette]

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Paterson proposes $1 billion in cuts, more flooding, track season all wet, principal arrested, permits for off-leash dogs, Giants coming back

David Paterson has proposed a plan to cut $1 billion in spending from the state budget. Half of that would come from Medicaid funding, $250 million from aid to local governments, and $100 million from legislative pork projects. As you might expect, legislators and lobbyists are already protesting. Local governments are also worried -- for example, Schenectady figures Paterson's plan could cut $700,000 in funding for the city. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

North Greenbush and Rensselaer were the latest parts of the Capital Region to get swamped by rain. The Amtrak line between Hudson and Rensselaer had to be closed for a while because the tracks were underwater. The 74-year-old mayor of Rensselaer said yesterday's flooding was the worst he'd ever seen in the city. A Rensselaer County legislator says the drainage systems there just haven't been able to keep up with the pace of development. [TU] [Troy Record]

Both attendance and the amount bet at the Track are down from last year at the season's midpoint. Attendance is down more than 16 percent and the "handle" is down 8 percent. [Saratogian]

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Saratoga with a twist

boxbreakfast.jpg

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).

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Breakfast with a history

Mike's_Breakfast.jpg

Breakfast at the track.

By Mike Hare

When you order your eggs and bacon for breakfast at the Saratoga Racecourse, you're following a tradition that dates from the late 19th century.

Only backwards.

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Paterson live at five, car falls off parking garage, attendance down at The Track, candidate says he'll donate salary, UAlbany off the party school list

David Paterson will be making a live, televised address late this afternoon (5:10 pm). The message: the state budget is in bad shape. "There will be no confusion about the gravity of the situation," the Governor said yesterday. By some estimates, the state will come up $5 billion short this year. [TU] [NYT]

A woman drove her car off the second level of a parking garage in Menands yesterday. Even though the car flipped over during its 20 foot fall, the woman was able to crawl away from the wreckage. [TU]

After tests turned up low levels of PCBs in its drinking water, Stillwater is looking around for other options. The town currently gets its water from the Hudson and it's concerned the dredging project will increase PCB levels. Kirsten Gillibrand says if an alternative can't be found, the dredging project should be delayed. [Daily Gazette]

Both attendance and the amount bet at The Track are down from the same period last year. Attendance is off about 25 percent and the handle (the total amount bet) is down more than 12 percent. NYRA officials blame rain and a lack of bobbleheads. [Saratogian] [Daily Gazette]

Ian McGaughey, a Wilton Democrat running to fill the state Assembly seat currently held by Roy McDonald (who's running to replace Joe Burno in the state Senate), says he'll donate his entire Assembly salary to charity if elected. That would be $79,500. [Saratogian]

UAlbany has dropped off the list of the Princeton Review's top party schools. Students may have been missing reasons to party. The school still ranked highly in a group of unflattering categories, including a second-place finish for "Least Beautiful Campus." [TU]

Become a Saratoga know-it-all

saratoga racecourse entrance

There might be one or two things to say about this place.

By Mike Hare

From the Editors: With the return of track season in Saratoga, we figured we'd drop some conversational currency about the Spa City on you. Impress your friends over drinks at the Adelphi! Fill that awkward silence with out-of-town guests! Be a know-it-all! We'll feature a new fact/tidbit/historical note each day about Saratoga from now until September. Here's the first...

Quick, what's the oldest sporting venue in the United States?

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And down the stretch they come!

Here's the mascot race from yesterday's open house at The Track. We totally had our money on the Skidmore Thoroughbred (how could you not?), but as you'll see, it appears the fix may have been in.


AMD chip fab "full steam ahead," violent crime in Schenectady down, Bruno takes victory lap, horse slaughter protest planned

The AMD chip fab project proposed for Luther Forest appears to still be on track despite a change in leadership at the company and a huge quarterly loss. Chuck Schumer says the both the old and new CEO told him the Luther Forest project is "full steam ahead." Of course, AMD has still not definitively committed to the project, yet. [TU]

Violent crime is down in Schenectady over the last two years. Officials are attributing the decline to a state program that's put up money for more patrols and intelligence gathering. The city's about to get $900k more from the program. [Daily Gazette]

Two people were sent to the hospital by a lightning strike Friday evening at the Saratoga County Fair. It looks like the lightning hit a pine tree under which they were standing. [Daily Gazette]

Joe Bruno led a bus tour/victory lap around the Capital Region Friday afternoon for the media. Among the stops: Joe Bruno Stadium and the Joe Bruno bust at ALB. The very last scrap of Bruno bacon may have come in the form of an ice cream the now-former state Senator bought for a little kid at the Rennselaer train station. [TU]

A group opposed to horse slaughter for human consumption is planning to protest at the opening of The Track on Wednesday. [Saratogian]

Two Starbucks in the Capital Region will be closing: 1818 Central Ave. in Colonie (near Kohl's) and 2441 Watt St. in Schenectady. [Business Review]

The Capital District Federation of Ideas is giving up Point 5, its headquarters on Madison Ave in Albany. CDFI has been having trouble covering the rent. It's hoping to use the money it had been putting toward rent into other projects. [TU]

Joe Bruno leaving state Senate, adult bookstore owner says roundabout is plot to get him, new food at The Track, Travers chases Big Brown

Joe Bruno has announced he's not running for re-election. His decision is being described as "unexpected and stunning." In a statement, Bruno said it was "time to move on." It looks like Assemblyman Roy McDonald, who represents an area around Wilton, is the leading Republican choice for Bruno's seat (Brian Premo, a Democrat, is already in the race). Capital Region leaders are already mourning the loss of all the pork Bruno sent in this direction. [TU] [NYDN] [Daily Politics] [Daily Politics] [AOA] [TU]

The Albany County Board of Elections is cutting the number of polling places from 72 to 49. An elections commissioner says the consolidation will reduce the cost of new federally-mandated voting machines. Critics say the reduction will make it harder for elderly and people without cars to vote. [TU]

The owner of the Dewitt Clinton (the building just across from the capitol at State and Eagle) is continuing its push to evict tenants so that it can redevelop the building into a hotel. One of the tenants is the State Room, a banquet hall, which has been getting calls from worried couples who have made wedding plans there. [TU]

The owner of an adult bookstore in Schenectady says the plan for roundabout on Erie Boulevard is just an attempt to get rid of his store. His building would have to be demolished in order to contstruct the traffic circle. [Daily Gazette]

Five Saratoga restaurants will be selling food at The Track this summer: Hattie's, Brindisi's, Grey Gelding, Panza's, and 1 Caroline Street/Mouzon House. [Saratogian]

NYRA is trying to convince the owners of Big Brown, the horse that won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, to run in the Travers. [Daily Gazette]

Big rigs roll at capitol, gun buyback to expand, stop that bat, Schenectady decides downtown is electrifying

More than 100 big rigs made a loop around the capitol as part of a protest against high taxes, tolls and diesel prices yesterday. And this being Albany, the event featured its fair share of political name calling and finger pointing. And Joe Bruno drove a big rig. [TU] [Saratogian]

The church running the Albany gun buyback says it's collected 17 guns. And now it looks like Albany County DA's office will start a similar program. [CapNews9] (Earlier on AOA: The Albany gun buyback: buyer's remorse?)

The state Department of Health is urging people to capture any bats that may have come in contact with people or pets. There's a nationwide shortage of human rabies vaccines and public health officials want to make sure it's only used for people who have come in contact with a rabid animal. [Daily Gazette]

The CEO of NYRA says the racing association will be profitable by 2010. It lost $34.4 million last year. And its franchise agreement with the state still isn't finalized. [Saratogian]

Troy has approved an installment plan for Rensselaer to pay off the rest of its $2.1 million water debt. [TU]

Schenectady leaders have decided to call the city's downtown entertainment and arts district around State and Jay ElectriCity. [Business Review]

There won't be a bobblehead giveaway this year at The Track. [Saratogian]

Graduations, school budget increases, discounts on heroin, bickering in Troy, dress codes at The Track

UAlbany, RPI, Skidmore and Siena all held gradations this past weekend. [TU] [TU] [Saratogian] [Troy Record]

Stillwater police have accused a Watervliet man of holding a woman captive for three weeks. [WNYT]

On average, proposed school budgets in the Capital Region are up more than 6 percent from last year. Proposed property tax increases aren't quite as high, though, because some of the new spending is being offset by money from the state. The vote on school district budgets is tomorrow. [TU]

The Schenectady drug operation that allegedly involved the former police chief's wife continues to provide story fodder. The latest details: dealers worked on schedules and argued whether it was fair that one dealer got one of the ring's phones every weekend, sales locations changed frequently, and you had to buy five bags of heroin to get a discount. [Daily Gazette]

A developer says the seemingly constant fighting between Troy mayor Harry Tutunjian and the city council is hurting economic development in the city. The developer says government officials need to start acting like "gentlemen." (No, there aren't any women on the Troy City Council.) [Troy Record]

Apparently any reference to 9/11 is off-limits when making a custom New York license plate. References to Osama Bin Laden are also a no-no. [TU]

Dress codes at The Track might be easing. A little. The new rules will be announced in June. [Daily Gazette]

Yep, that is a lot of paper

box_of_paper.jpgThere was that story this week about how city council meetings in Saratoga Springs are going paperless. And as part of that story, one of the city commissioners mentioned that city hall uses 475 cubic feet of paper every year.

That sounded like a lot of paper to us, but really, how much is it? So we decided to measure that figure against something we could relate to. And this being Saratoga Springs, we picked the track. The result, with how we got it, after the jump.

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NY's doctor watch list, synthetic track at Saratoga?, lots of repaving projects, graduation ceremony headliners

More than two percent of practicing doctors in New York State were on a watch list last year because of problems such as drug use or professional misconduct. New York's rate is twice the national average and ranks it seventh highest. Some -- including the state health commissioner -- say the high number is evidence the state is actually doing something about the problems, but watchdogs say public still isn't getting info about their docs. [NYT]

NYRA will be holding a forum this summer about whether the state's horse tracks -- including Saratoga -- should switch over to synthetic surfaces. A NYRA spokesman says it's "seriously interested" (the Gazette's phrase) in making the switch. Synthetic tracks have been touted as a way to reduce horse injuries, but a lot of horse people and bettors don't like them. [Daily Gazette] [Saratogian]

A "throng" of south side Saratoga Springs residents are exercised over a plan to convert play fields on Vanderbilt Avenue into an indoor rec center. Mayor Scott Johnson is pushing for the site, saying the Vanderbilt location will make it easier for kids in downtown to use the center -- and he says the fields are currenlty only used for "random unstructured play." [Daily Gazette]

It seems like half of Albany's roads are getting repaved this year. [TU]

David Paterson, David Gergen and, um, Jeanine Pirro -- yep, that Jeanine Pirro -- headline (so to speak) the list of Capital Region graduation speakers this year. [TU]

Tonko's in, state lawyer accused of getting paid without working, Troy-Sanctuary dispute continues, tulip forecast looking good

Paul Tonko said Thursday that he is running for the 21st Congressional District (Mike McNulty's seat), though he hasn't officially declared, yet. The longtime state legislator has a lot of support within the Democratic party and immediately jumps toward the head of the race's pack of candidates. [Daily Gazette]

The state inspector general says a lawyer with the Department of Correctional Services has been getting paid for time he wasn't actually working. According to the report, some of the charged time was spent at a country club. [TU]

The squabble between the City of Troy and the Sanctuary for Indpendent Media over code enforcement has prompted the New York Civil Liberties Union to file the preliminary paperwork needed for a suit against the city. The arts space claims the city temporarily shut it down for public gatherings because it exhibited Wafaa Bilal's "Virtual Jihadi." Troy mayor Harrty Tutunjian said Thursday, "The city of Troy has nothing to apologize for." [Troy Record]

A barn collapsed yesterday at the Track. Six people suffered injuries, the worst of which was a broken arm. No horses were in the barn when it fell down. [Daily Gazette]

Next weekend's tulip forecast: plentiful. [TU]

A guy who stole more than $4500 last year from Mrs. London's plead guilty yesterday. He was nabbed after repeatedly calling police -- anonymously -- to ask if there was an arrest warrant out for his name. [Saratogian]

The Track vs. Mahars

mahars frontSince yesterday's post about All About Beer Magazine's list of the best places to have a beer before you die, people have been wondering how Mahar's rated 99th and The Saratoga Racecourse came in at 19. We have to admit, we too were puzzled, so we called up Rick Lyke, the author of the list. It turns out he used to live in Clifton Park and has been to both places.

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Convention center money sought, home foreclosures up, Colonie Center movie theater nears completion, horses back at Saratoga

The Albany Convention Center Authority is looking for the state to help pay another $190 million in expenses for the project. The price tag for the convetion center has almost doubled from its original projection. [TU]

The number of Capital Region home foreclosures continued a year-long upward swing. [TU]

Uri Kaufman, the guy who turned Cohoes' Harmony Mills into luxury apartments, has proposed doing the same for a former knitting factory in Amsterdam. Kaufman is also currently involved with a plan to convert the old Victory Mill in Saratoga into lofts. [Daily Gazette]

Public filings indicate that Feldman Mall Properties, which owns a piece of Colonie Center, has spent $110 million renovating the mall. The project was originally slated to cost about half that, but the cost of building a movie theater on the mall's roof has ended up being much expensive than originally projected. And what about that much delayed theater? The planned opening date is now May 16. [Business Review]

The parent company of The Saratogian and The Troy Record is being de-listed from the New York Stock Exchange today. Journal Register Company is straining under the weight of debt and some analysts are projecting the company is headed for default. [AP/TU]

About a third of shoppers at Railroad Avenue Price Chopper in Saratoga Springs walk there, according to a company survey. So, what? There have been rumors the Chopper at that location might close, which has prompted concern the city would no longer have a supermarket to which people could walk. [Saratogian]

Training season has opened at Saratoga. [Daily Gazette]

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

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I went to one last month. My friend took his oath of citizenship. It is a great ceremony. A local school choir sang. There was a moving speech from one of the new citizens who grew up a refugee and at the age of 21 was finally a citizen of a country for the first time in her life. The League of Women Voters give warm welcomes, flags and voter registration cards to all the new citizens. It gave me such warm fuzzies. Everyone should try to go to one of these if they get the chance.

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