Friday, August 14, 2009


by Douglas Dechert

The real start of the Saratoga Season
was last weekend at The Whitney Cup, where thoroughbreds were much in evidence; and plenty of racehorses, too. The track here is not only the oldest in America, but the only one to consistently grow in attendance, as well as revenue.

Mary Lou Whitney, the grande dame of the sport of kings, presided over the festivities with as close to a regal bearing as we have in this country.

Her acumen as a breeder is, in fact, legendary, as both Mind That Bird, the winner of this year’s Kentucky Derby, and Summer Bird, the winner of this year’s Belmont Steaks, were sired by her horse, Bird Stone, which was also a Belmont winner and champion in its own right.
Mary Lou Whitney. Viviam Malloy.
Two other key seasonal events drew hordes of beautiful people from the four corners of the world. The annual party thrown by Fasig-Tipton, the venerable equine auction house, was absolutely lavish in its production values as over 1,000 finely dressed and coiffed swells can attest.

The following night’s critical yearling sales were just as well attended and bidding was spirited, although, like the rest of the world’s luxury markets, prices were off the record highs by about 40% to 50%, with the top earner bringing in a mere $2.8 mil.
The Whitney Cup Race.
Sellers could thank celebrities, shadowy Arabs and the parvenus of Wall Street for what market strength there was. Sheik Mohammed of Dubai bought loads of ponies, while newsmaker, Rick Pittino was in attendance along with scads of Kentucky bluebloods and top chef, Bobby Flay, bid assiduously as well.

And of course, everybody ends the night at Siro’s, where on this weekend at least, the middle class meets the middle east.
The Stantons of Waco, TX. Dr. Michael Galvin and Heidi Leiser.
The annual Yearling Auction at Fasig Tipton.
Carolyn Conley and Chip Woolsey. Doug Dechert and Bobby Flay.
Floor show a the Fasig Tipton party.
Virginia Kraft Payson. Stephanie and Mike Hoare.
Mr. and Mrs. Terrence Collier. Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Pride.
Sherri Akers, Audrey Akers, and Bobbi Martin. Tsering Hayes and Elizabeth Voss.
Paul and Olivia Saylor. Roger and Chelse Horgan.
Dr. and Mrs. Tim Newcombe. Michael Dickenson and Jessica Di Pietro.

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