TDN Weekend

March 2018

TDN Weekend December 2016 Issue 9

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Page 42 of 99

Picture the perfect day of racing. For most of us, that's easy. For me, it's Saratoga, circa 1984. There's a good-sized crowd on hand—enough to make you feel like you're in a place where something is happen- ing--but not so much that it's op- pressive. You find a parking spot in the lot, make your way up to the casually elegant, historic wooden stands, and buy yourself a seat. Or maybe you've brought a pic- nic, so you sit out on the lawn, handicapping with your fam- ily by the leafy green pad- dock, watching the jock- eys head to the tree that has the number of their horse nailed to it, after being summoned by the traditional bell. You get in line, and while you're far from alone, you can still make your bet with two minutes to post, and whether your horse is first or last, you cheer and clap politely as the winner returns to the circle. While the charm of the 1984 Sara- toga that I remember inevitably had to give way to more accommoda- tions, pavement, food stands, a lack of parking and crowds—gave way, in fact, to its own success—that idyllic racing experience exists, or some- thing awfully close to it, in Hop- pegarten, just outside of Berlin, Ger- many. It's a jewel of a racecourse, brought back from the oblivion, and it provided me what was easily my most enjoyable day of racing in 2017. R A C I N G ' S U N D I S C O V E R E D J E W E L By SUE FINLEY

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