Saratoga Springs in upstate New York may be best known to many as home to a world famous race track for thoroughbred horses, the second oldest in the United States that began its long life in 1863.
These days, sports are being promoted as a series of "happenings" -- celebrations. Athletes and the games they compete in are being primed, packaged and scripted like every other public event in the era of contrived melodrama.
After the world chess champion Magnus Carlsen collected two more world titles last week in Dubai, winning the FIDE Rapid and Blitz championships, new comparisons were inevitable. Now he might be compared to a horse or a long distance runner, I thought.
"This year, I saw someone in six-inch sparkly stilettos," she says, shaking her head. "This is a daytime horse race, not a nightclub." Rachel and I nod in agreement, as if the sparkly stilettos also offended us at this, the first horserace either of us has ever attended.
The generous folks from the New York Racing Association were kind enough to invite me to the Belmont Stakes last Saturday. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink, and you can lead me to free champagne and wonder what the heck you're going to serve the other guests.
Over the years as my naiveté diminished, I gradually became aware of the realities of the sport and the way its heroes are abused and mistreated for our pleasure.
Like so many others, I've been inspired by the story of California Chrome. So much in fact, that despite not being a fan of horse racing, I decided to make the pilgrimage to Belmont Park.
There is widespread drugging of equine athletes, but leaders of many racing organizations are fiercely resisting reforms at the national level, even though the whole enterprise engages in interstate gambling only with the consent of Congress.
By late Saturday the sportsworld will know if there is a Triple Crown winner for the first time in 36 years. No one could have guessed that it would be this long before another horse would accomplish this feat again.
The beauty and majesty of thoroughbred horse racing is indeed poetry in motion. When these magnificent animals take to the track, they do what is in their blood to do... they do what they were born to do... they run.
Watching this year's Kentucky Derby winner, California Chrome, made me reflect on my own peak experience as an owner in a racehorse who also wasn't expected to become anything special amongst the 30,000+ racehorses that are born each year.
Moderation is smart in any situation, but especially when it comes to the Kentucky Derby.
On May 3, thoroughbred racing insiders, fans, experience seekers and celebs will flock to the most popular horse race in the U.S.
America has long had a love affair with horse racing. As we approach this year's 140th running of the Kentucky Derby, the first of the Triple Crown races, aficionados will focus on the new crop of 3-year-olds.
This is why ending horse slaughter has been one of our strongest recent campaigns. While the practice is effectively banned in the United States, there's still more we can do to permanently ensure no horses are slaughtered here, or sent overseas for slaughter.