Lots to see, do while horses in the barn

While thoroughbreds such as Princess of Sylmar and Palace Malice will be confined to the grounds of
People gather to watch workouts at the Oklahoma Track on July 17.
People gather to watch workouts at the Oklahoma Track on July 17.

The horses are running. The people are walking.

While thoroughbreds such as Princess of Sylmar and Palace Malice will be confined to the grounds of Saratoga Race Course during the next six weeks, tourists will travel all over the city.

There are bunches of must-see, must-visit places around the celebrated horse track and Saratoga Springs. Here are 10 must things to do while in Saratoga — besides winning a few grand with Princess and Palace:

1. Have one on Mother Nature: The Big Red Spring, located in the race track’s backyard picnic area near the paddock, offers a free and sulphur-flavored drink of water. The spring is named after Secretariat and Man O’War, the two chestnut-colored champions nicknamed “Big Red.” The drink is really a glass full of wet minerals and is not for every taste.

2. Evening blue: Pop into Siro’s — right next to the race course — for a quick beverage after the races. On some late afternoons or early evenings, you’ll be hanging out with horse owners and trainers.

3. Splash Victorian: Few swimming pools are as classy as the Victoria pool in Saratoga Spa State Park. Built in 1935 and restored in 2005, the pool complex can hold 350 people. There’s brisk water — and brick structures featuring arched colonnades and lion water spouts.

4. Babes on Broadway: And guys, too! Strolling Broadway before or after the races and checking out restaurants and gift stores is a great way to spend time in the city.

5. Sweet Caroline: Walking Broadway sets up a perfect opportunity to turn down Caroline Street and scout the heavy concentration of restaurants such as One Caroline, Sperry’s and Gaffney’s. And if you’re stepping near Gaffney’s, you have to visit the city’s largest outdoor courtyard.

6. Jockeys up: You may not meet a real jockey, but you can meet a miniature: The “ring of jockeys” outside the clubhouse entrance close to Frank Sullivan Way offers a dozen 3-foot-tall statues, all painted in vivid colors. The guys hold signs telling fans which horses won big races during the previous meet; the silks are painted in the colors of the winning owner.

7. Spit, Spat & SPAC: It’s not a law firm — just a park doubleheader. Congress Park is a verdant visit, and the place’s water-gushing “Spit” and “Spat” fountain statues are among the most famous stone pieces in the city. More green grass is waiting at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, where lawn picnics during the Philadelphia Orchestra can begin a classy evening.

8. Mansion missions: North Broadway and Union Avenue are spots for lavish houses and gardens. They’re not open for visits — but views from the sidewalk are free.

9. Lady of the lakes: Lake George may be Queen of the American Lakes, but Saratoga Lake is one of New York’s leading aquatic ladies. The 41⁄2-mile long lake is surrounded by Saratoga Springs, Malta and the town of Saratoga — so it’s close to everything.

10. Bet on breakfast: One of the coolest things about Saratoga Race Course is the morning breakfast buffet on the clubhouse “porch.” Bacon, eggs, home fries, fruit and other morning foods are a coupled entry — horses on morning exercise sessions are the second part of a sure thing. People can always bring their own breakfast and watch from the box seats as the horses run — there’s no entrance fee to do so.

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