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Mark McGuire's Talking It Over
by Mark McGuire

Talking It Over

A Daily Gazette news blog
What's being talked about in the Daily Gazette, Schenectady, the Capital Region, nation and a few other places.
 

Name a tract of The Track

By Mark McGuire
Monday, August 4, 2014
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SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Race Course is the sum of its parts, each identifiable components of one of the most iconic venues in horse racing.

The paddock. The backyard. The clubhouse. The grandstand. The track apron. The porch.

But there is one area oddly not named, the very nexus of the grounds, one known and crisscrossed by most fans. It calls out to be called something — anything.

That would be the asphalt and grass area between the clubhouse stands and the backyard, the quasi-triangle that serves as four corners of sort. Think of it: If you told someone to meet you there at the track, what would you call the area without using landmarks?

It deserves a name. When asked about it this week, some New York Racing Association officials immediately and understandably saw the sponsorship potential. But does The Track really need a, say, Dunkin’ Donuts Plaza? (The money wouldn’t hurt, but you get the point.)

“I would really want to think about it,” Lynn LaRocca, NYRA’s senior vice president and chief experience officer, said of an appropriate name. “It’s a great location, and [a name] should resonate with the track, like Monument Park at Yankee Stadium or The Green Monster at Fenway.”

So we took the question to the fans: What should the area be named? Here are some of their ideas, with a few others mixed in:

THE MELTING POT: Like few other venues, Saratoga draws an obvious diversity of classes. And when they mingle, it’s at this spot of the track.

“The clubhouse, the grandstand, the rich people, the people at the tables — everybody has to walk through this area,” said Pete Herzfeld of Delmar. “Everyone is equal … for a moment.”

JOCKEY LANE: Mary Campney, who has staked out the same spot on the asphalt under a tree for a decade, merely had to glance 15 feet to her right to find her answer written on the ground.

“It’s right there,” the Malta woman said, pointing to the painted lane leading from the track to the jockey room that intersects the area. “The jockeys come right through here.”

TRAVERS PLAZA/WHITNEY WAY/SANFORD SQUARE: The names honor horse racing pioneers here, as well as some of the track’s signature races.

CORDERO COMMONS: In conjunction with the jockey lane, the name would commemorate Angel Cordero Jr., who won 11 straight riding titles here starting in 1976.

THE WATERING HOLE: “Everyone comes here in the middle,” said Joe Curcio of Staten Island. “And you have food and drinks.”

THE GAP: “It’s the gap — the gap to the front and the gap to the back,” Tom Fellner of Oyster Bay said.

Well, at least that would be better than selling naming rights. What entity would possibly want to be associated with something named The Gap? Wait …

“Oh, no … ” Fellner said. “Never mind.”

 
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