A friend of mine was up at Saratoga for opening weekend and could only describe it as “mayhem”, but it was that good sort of mayhem that we’ve all missed over the past year and a half. Growing up on Long Island, I’ve been going to New York tracks my entire life, and there’s oddly nothing more calming than the “mayhem” of Saratoga. I was down at Belmont about a month ago, ruining my late P5 by singling Mike Maker’s Shiraz (who came back for an impressive win on Wednesday afternoon), and I looked out over the now truncated Belmont Backyard and began to reminisce. Belmont on its finest days, can only be described as mayhem, but that akin to American Pharoah’s and Justify’s Triple Crown victories, the hundred-thousand-person bathroom lines and concession sellouts for California Chrome’s shot in 2014, and the biggest single day party at any New York track. I’ll always think back on fond memories of the Belmont Backyard, especially those days that are forever engrained in my mind. Belmont is a monument to the sport, a place where champions are crowned, but a place that’s not untouchable. It’s part of the ever-evolving landscape of New York, and even though I think it will stand the test of time, Belmont will have to change and adapt to survive. Saratoga, on the other hand, is untouchable. It is less a monument to the sport and more a monument to a state of mind. Stakes named after the ghosts of past heroes and local lakes fill the programs. People range from the plaid-jacketed horse owners to the young kids donning free Saratoga t-shirts on giveaway days. I fully expect to go to Saratoga in 50 years, if I live that long, and experience the same kind of soothing calm I feel there today. The red and white awnings, The Big Red Spring, and the world-class racing that always delivers are just reminders to us all that some forms of mayhem can ultimately bring us peace. I plan on enjoying it for as long as I go there…especially while hitting this Saturday’s Late Pick 5 to make it even better. Best of luck to all!