Pink touches were everywhere, from the blanket of carnations under Sea Hero in the paddock, to the linen napkins on the clubhouse porch. But the most vibrant bursts were found inside the At the Rail Pavilion. The space was draped in bright pink fabric with matching sheer bows adorning every chair, at tables dressed with vibrant fuchsia and fire poppies. The Sizzling Hot Pink Saratoga Hat Luncheon was coordinated by an all-star committee brimming with year-round supporters like Fran Dingeman, Cindy Hollowood and Cindy Munter, and summer patrons including Tracy Pletcher and Sheryl Schwartz. The broad appeal of the cause was reflected in the nine women serving as honorary chairs: Theresa Behrendt, Julie Bonacio, Jane Golub, Jayne Carr Keyes, Maureen Lewi, Suzie O’Cain, Michele Riggi, Patty Riggi and Margie Rotchford.
Attendees in every possible shade of pink sipped complimentary wine courtesy of Zed, Farrier Wines and Foley Family Wines, and shopped the Fabulous Fillies Boutique. Marianne Bezjian demonstrated the perfect drape of her scarves, while Nancy Smith and Phyllis Bynum chatted with Nancy Matt, trying on chapeaus from Encounter. Styles from Nina McClemore, RuLu New York and St. John complemented the colorful accessories. Appropriately, The Pink Paddock, a Lilly Pulitzer Via Shop, had a large display popping with the color of the day. Tim Rodriguez and Joseph Saucier stopped by to admire the paisley ties. Owner Kimberly Burton sold handbags, totes and picnic ware, as her husband, Steve Snyder, extolled the efficiency of the pink Lilly koozie holding his cold beer and the practicality of their citronella-infused cause bracelets (both goodies for luncheon guests).
Seen with a rosy glow under her fascinator was milliner Cat Stevens, and Neil Golub’s solid pink tie perfectly matched his wife’s dress. Others pretty in pink were Sylvia Kravis Phillips, Nancy DiCresce, Donna Brothers, Kristina Lane, Lynne Silver, Mary Martin and Alyssa Paulsen, Miss Illinois Ambassador 2012. Enjoying a mother-daughter day were Laura and Elinor Wolf, with friend Jackie Molloy, committee member Janice Smeallie with daughters Ellie and Catherine, and the Pletcher’s. (The noted trainer’s wife was joined by their daughter, Hannah, and his mom, Jerrie, visiting from Texas.) Also spotted among the boutique and auction tables were Lisa Moser, Alexis Doyle, Debora Freihofer, Donna O’Higgins, Ivy White, Louise Straney, Kristen Dwyer and Robin Kappler.
Fun shopping led to lunch when NYRA’s director of community relations, Joanne K. Adams, encouraged everyone to be seated for the brief program. Adams, a cancer survivor, co-chaired the event with Debbie Finley, Tania Luzzi and Catalina Miller. ESPN reporter Jeannine Edwards, a former exercise rider, jockey apprentice and trainer, welcomed the crowd, thanking sponsors, underwriters and benefactors for their generous support of the day. Edwards spoke about the reason for the pink and the cause that bonded each person present, breast cancer research. She also noted that Fabulous Fillies Day provided an ideal opportunity to recognize the remarkable women in Thoroughbred racing. In her pale pink suit, honoree Virginia Kraft Payson, a renowned owner/breeder and a pioneer woman sports journalist, took the stage to extend personal appreciation to NYRA, those present and all who have played a role in the sport.
This year’s luncheon was a special tribute to BCRF founder and chairman, Evelyn H. Lauder. Lauder died from ovarian cancer-related complications in November 2011. Her own experience with early-stage breast cancer 25 years ago inspired her to co-create the pink ribbon, now synonymous with the cause, and in 1993 she founded The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. To date, BCRF has raised over $350 million and funds 186 dedicated scientists across the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia, all advancing detection, prevention and treatment. Currently, more that 90 cents of every dollar donated is supporting breast cancer research and awareness programs.
Cooks in the Kitchen
Another Monday brought another benefit for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund on August 20. Ready for some horseplay after a week of racing, jockeys headed to The Stadium Café for the 2nd Annual Taste of Saratoga. Restaurant owner Chris Harmon greeted attendees while her husband, Dave, best known for his racing photography, put down the camera to supervise the activities of their celebrity crew.
In the kitchen, sporting their own personalized jackets, the chefs were busy chopping, dicing, wrapping and mixing. David Cohen was engrossed in preparations for his sesame tuna, and Ramon Dominguez busily crafted Vietnamese spring rolls from scratch as Rajiv Maragh added tang to his pineapple meatballs. Shaun Bridgmohan and Simon Husbands raced to cook up Kingfish.
Out on the floor, emcee Joe Calderone entertained, keeping the crowd engaged and drawing periodic raffle winners to encourage more ticket sales. Morris Todd and his wife, Joanne, congratulated the lucky lady who won his massage session at Foley Chiropractic. Others walked away with gift certificates to partnering restaurants. Calderone also highlighted some of the fun silent auction items, motivating people to bid higher on Harmon’s framed racing photos, including one of I’ll Have Another winning the Preakness; Giants, Patriots and Yankees tickets; a stay at the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort; and a commemorative chef’s jacket autographed by the jockeys of Saratoga. Spotted perusing the auction were Chip and Sue DuBois, Sarah and Ron Ireland, Tony Millan, Andrea Krylowicz, Susan Jordan, Heather Kesting, Jamie Kennedy and Reid James.
Behind the bar, John Velazquez poured wine and tapped beer for patrons like Dave Merriman, Aaron Perkins, Brian Miller, Amanda Hatch, Trudi Dauphinais, Laraine Michaelides, Ellen Johnston and Natalie Avella. Most in demand, however, were Velazquez’s signature raspberry lemondrop martinis. His wife, Leona, commented that they had adapted the recipe from one enjoyed at a favorite restaurant, with John adding special touches to make it his. Sharon Dominguez lifted a glass to toast the recipe, as did Deborah Iuliano and Chuck Martin.
Back in the kitchen, it seemed there could be too many cooks, or maybe it was just too many reporters. The competitors withstood the heat, putting finishing touches on their respective dishes after feedback from helpful tasters. When the big moment arrived, the special judges took their places. Ready to cast their votes were Sysco’s Mike Kiernan, John Ireland from Panza’s 28 Tables, Druthers’ Sean Comiskey, James Demers of Prime at Saratoga National and John LaPosta from Maestro’s at the Van Dam.
After much fanfare, light-hearted critiques and plenty of laughter, the winner of the coveted jockey chef boot was declared to be David Cohen, whose sesame tuna with wasabi sauce also took the People’s Choice award, determined by a judging panel of the event’s first 25 attendees. Seen applauding the winning chef were Robin Carlson, Reed Hatkoff, Michele Southern, Dan Domeroski, Ryan Jordan, Jen Merriman, Joann Grande and Kent Desormeaux with his son, Jacob, and friend Joe Monroe.
The Taste of Saratoga surpassed its first year in both attendance and income, with well over $10,000 anticipated for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. PDJF is a collaborative effort of industry leaders, including race tracks, jockeys, trainers and horsemen (and women) who share the vision of providing financial assistance to a group of athletes who have given so much to the sport. The organization is committed to working with industry and medical research groups to improve the safety of both the human and equine athlete.
A Hand Up
Honorary chairs Aldis Loreno and Dee Sarno welcomed over 200 guests for One Fine Day on Tuesday, August 21. The Shelters of Saratoga summer benefit was held at the exquisite Union Gables amid the inn’s historic parlors and gardens. The blooming bushes and trees in the B&B’s patio and side-yard were natural décor, and with elegant food stations, crisp white linens and an eclectic collection of flower-filled teapot centerpieces, the scene was set for a classic tea party.
Early on, Josey Kakaty and Connie Boff chatted with Michele Riggi, while Joe Kakaty checked out the array of silent auction items, filling in his name to get the bids rolling. On the lawn, the tent buzzed with greetings between friends like Tamara Valentine and Mary Zlotnick, as well as Jane Sanzen and Beth Becker. Missy Nigro, Darcy Picchi and Sheila Greene caught up nearby, while Supervisor Joanne Dittes Yepsen greeted fellow honorary committee members Judy Harrigan and Laura Chodos, with Carrie Woerner and Nan Guslander.
In contrast to the heat that has weighed on so many events this season, the weather was delightful. Properly attired ladies and gentlemen sipped wine from Crush & Cask or a cup of Divinitea. Seen enjoying the scones and sandwiches provided by Maestro’s at the Van Dam were Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan, Anne McMahon, Susan Patterson, Linda Haner and Lynn Bradley. Champagne raspberry push-pops, lemon ice and mini ice cream sandwiches added refreshing sweetness while The Garland Nelson Ensemble entertained, beckoning to those strolling Union Avenue on the track’s dark day.
In recognition of the Travers Festival, SOS embraced Saratoga’s ‘health, history and horses,’ inviting attendees to sample Young Living Essential Oils on the porch, tour Union Gables with Hollis Palmer and hear from Allan Carter, historian for the National Museum of Racing. Several also embodied Saratoga’s style, in hats and garden party dresses. Seated at tables under the tent were Sandi Kearns, Kathleen Parker, Karin Noob, Barbara Miller, Karen Brown, Beverly Valentine, Sally Florence and Maggie McNichols. Meaghan and Lisa Barss joined Christine Macarelli and Judith Aratoli Tully, who not only looked fabulous in her marabou chapeau, but also created the beautiful artwork on the event invitation.
Others spotted were Don and Judy McCormack, Kim VanderHeide, Amelia Costello, Kate Calbone, Terry Lee, Dr. Joy Lucas, Tammy Loya, Jason and Martha MacGregor, Mary Lou Wheeler and SOS Executive Director Peter Whitten.
During the brief program, Garland Nelson called attention to the nonprofit’s mantra, “We don’t give a hand-out. We give a hand up.” As Nelson pointed out, “At any given time, any one of us could be thrown into a situation where our lives are destabilized.” That is why Shelters of Saratoga exists.
Board president Stephen Towne emphasized this, expressing appreciation to the many event sponsors and supporters who not only made the event possible, but more significantly, make it possible for SOS to assist those in need with a clean and comfortable place to stay, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Shelters of Saratoga offers the only respite for homeless men and women in the three-county region. More than 380 different individuals were served through the emergency shelter in 2011, not to mention countless more who benefitted from the organization’s counseling and support services.
One fine day, no one will be homeless in Saratoga, Warren or Washington counties. Until then, Shelters of Saratoga continues to be an invaluable community resource.
Travers is considered the mid-summer derby, but with Labor Day just a week away, it feels like the season is fleeting. Make the most of these final racing days at events that prove the best may have been saved for last. Some don’t even require an RSVP!
On Friday, August 24, lift a pint at the 14th annual Battle of the Brews presented by the American Red Cross Adirondack Saratoga Chapter and DeCrescente Distributing. Tucked behind the main grandstand of the Saratoga Race Course, the event taps at noon as the region’s finest craft brews go head-to-head in competition for which reigns supreme. A $30 per person admission covers the beer sampling, light food, and a commemorative beer glass. To learn more, visit www.nyra.com.
Also celebrating its 14th year on Friday, the Travers Wine Tasting will take place at the National Museum of Racing. Hosted by Senior Services of Albany and presented by Time Warner Cable, the party features a premier tasting of 200 fine wines and beer from around the globe, supported by Crush & Cask and DeCrescente Distributing, and complemented with some of the Capital Region’s finest cuisine. Susanna Lia serves as honorary chair of this event, which also includes an incredible auction highlighted by escapes to Atlantis Paradise Island, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Steamboat Springs, Colorado, all benefiting the vital Meals on Wheels program. For details, visit www.seniorservicesofalbany.com.
For a last-minute way to partake in Saturday’s festivities, join Saratoga Bridges’ annual Travers Day at the Races. Held in the Carousel Restaurant at the Saratoga Race Course, the event is sponsored by DIAGEO, whose own Paul Robbins will be in attendance to toast guests with complimentary cocktails. Reserved seating and a luncheon buffet make it easy to enjoy all of the racing that afternoon. A limited number of reservations are still available. Visit www.saratogabridges.org or call (518) 587-0723, ext. 1242.
Shifting equine attentions to the other side of town, the Saratoga Polo Association showcases the Ylvisaker Memorial Cup Tournament on Friday, August 24, and Sunday the 26th. Whether sipping champagne in the clubhouse or picnicking on the tailgate, attendees can toast fashionable spectators, stomp divots between chukkers and witness an exciting world-class sport.
The fun continues on Friday, August 31, with the SPA Anniversary Cup Tournament. As the season winds down, the evening will feature a classic car cruise-in sponsored by Roli’s Auto Muscle Cars and an after-match celebration with live music from Party of Three. Clubhouse guests will also enjoy the launch of a new American whiskey. For match details and times, visit www.saratogapolo.com.