“A Memorable Morning at Saratoga”
The date was August 31, 2001. I arrived at the Saratoga Training track at 5:50 am, it’s a big day at Saratoga, it’s Travers Day. I parked my car next to the clockers shed and I’m ready to start the day.
First mission: locate Point Given. Wearing a homemade “Big Red Train” t-shirt with multiple photos, I was welcomed to John Terranovas barn area. Bob Baffert’s assistant trainer, Jim Barnes, and some grooms loved my shirt and wanted me to send them some.
I was there the entire morning. Point Given came outside his stall, jumping up and down, he loved doing it. He was a beautiful animal. Famous people were making visits to the barn. Up comes a black Cadi and out steps Joe Hirsch. He wasn’t walking very well then, his back was not very straight. But everyone was in awe of him. He was “The Man.”
Jason Terranova stopped by and gave out a few little rubber horses that read “The Big Red Train”. He gave one to me. From 6am to 12:15, I was right there enjoying it all. Oh, Bob Baffert was nowhere to be seen that morning, had a late night probably!
So, my morning was complete, memories I will never forget. I walk back to the training track and, oh boy, thousands of cars now and mine is nowhere to be found. It was towed ! But I lucked out and a security officer was nice enough to drive me to the tow lot (NYRA) to get my car.
Point Given wins big in the Travers. A great race and day. I gave the pony to my daughter who was 9 at the time. I later had it signed by Gary Stevens. My daughter still has the horse, and me ? I will always have the memory of that Travers morning. I have been a extreme horse racing fan for more than 30 years and have been lucky to gather racing memories that I will cherish forever.
Frank J. Panucci
We thank Frank for sharing his story! You can follow him on Twitter at @DRFager
You can also see some of Frank’s horse racing photography at www.trackfotos.com
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