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Friday, 11 September 2015 11:28

More Than Just A Great Race!

In Its Tenth Year, The Saratoga Palio Has Become A Community Happening.

SARATOGA SPRINGS – If you wanted to show someone an example of how this community comes together for great causes, and how that commitment grows over time, take them to Downtown Saratoga Springs on the morning of Sunday, September 20. At Ellsworth Jones Place near the City Center just before 8 a.m., they will witness the spectacle of over 2,000 runners, of all ability levels and from all over the region and nation, taking off on two races – a 5K that sweeps through the city, and a half-marathon (13.1 miles) that cascades through Spa State Park. 


The races themselves are an achievement – in its tenth year, The Saratoga Palio: Melanie Merola O’Donnell Memorial Race has exponentially grown in its participation (from about 400 runners in 2006). But the real impact comes from the good it does for the community, as well as from the community outward. 


The Saratoga Palio is the most significant fundraising effort of The Melanie Foundation. This Saratoga Springs-based foundation was formed in 2006 to honor the life and legacy of Melanie Merola O’Donnell, who passed away at age 33. Melanie lived a life of giving, focusing her career on relieving suffering inflicted by mental illness. As The Saratoga Palio has grown, it has enhanced the ability of the Melanie Foundation to expand its support via scholarships awarded to aspiring mental health practitioners, in recognition of their dedication to community service in a manner that reflects Melanie Merola O’Donnell’s values of compassion, generosity, respect and commitment to others. 


In 2015, three scholarships will be awarded, including one to Tabitha Dunn of Ballston Lake, who is pursuing doctoral studies at Springfield (MA) College. Other recipients are Stefanie Landau of Philadelphia, PA, and Melissa Smigelsky of Memphis, TN.


But while The Melanie Foundation’s scholarship winners can come from everywhere, their commitment to our local area is consistent. Since 2009, the have designated (see sidebar below) a local not-for-profit to receive a portion of the Saratoga Palio’s proceeds. This year’s recipient is The Saratoga Center for the Family. 


“We not only support the scholarship winners and the local charities,” said The Melanie Foundation’s Scholarship Chair Colleen Sanita, “but also the many runners who set the goal of completing a race like a Half Marathon for the first time, and train for it all summer to run in The Saratoga Palio. This perseverance is another way we keep Melanie’s spirit alive.”


The races themselves are the centerpieces of an entire weekend of activities suitable for the entire family. On Saturday, September 19, race participants can pick up their registration materials from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Hampton Inn (25 Lake Avenue), and everyone can view an exhibition that features vintage Saratoga Palio gear and informational displays from Arbonne, Bondi Band, National Running Center, Saratoga Boot Camp and The Melanie Foundation. 


Congress Park is much more than just the races’ finish line on Sunday. Interspersed between the 5K and Half Marathon award ceremonies are two heats of a popular Kids Fun Run (registration is that day). This is all followed by a big community celebration, sponsored by Druthers Brewing Company, that has all the elements: food, drink and activities for everyone in the family, plus music by three top area bands: Sugar Pill, High Peaks and The Remainders. 


Whether you decide to run or cheer, participating in The Saratoga Palio: Melanie Merola O’Donnell Memorial Race in its tenth renewal is something in which everyone in the community can take pride.   


For more information, to volunteer, or to register for The Saratoga Palio: Melanie Merola O’Donnell Memorial Race on September 20, visit www.TheSaratogaPalio.com. Course maps and itineraries, as well as details of the weekend activities are also available.


Online registration ends September 16 at 11:59 p.m. In-person registration and packet pickup will be held on September 19 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Hampton Inn (25 Lake Avenue). There is no race registration on race day; race packets can also be picked up on race day between 6:30-7:30 a.m.



Community Benefit

In 2009, The Melanie Foundation began giving back to the community through charitable donations, and as the Saratoga Palio has grown, so have the contributions. This year the foundation will give to the Saratoga Center for the Family.

2009: Saratoga Bridges ­ $5,000

2010: Saratoga Hospital ­ $6,500

2011: Franklin Community Center ­ $7,500

2012: World’s Window, Inc. ­ $7,500

2013: Jake’s Help from Heaven Foundation ­ $10,000

2014: Saratoga WarHorse ­ $15,000

Thursday, 03 September 2015 12:21

"Friday Night Lights" Kicks Off

Area H.S. Teams Begin Action This Weekend

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The ball is on the tee – ready for kickoff. It’s time to get fired up!


While most of us have spent the past few weeks enjoying the track, SPAC, and our own backyards, our area high school football teams have been hard at work getting ready for the 2015 fall season. 


The results of all this practice, practice, run it again, one more time, and once more drills will be on display throughout the region as each of our favorite varsity teams hit the gridiron for games that count, starting this evening:


  • -Saratoga Springs HS will host Bethlehem Central;
  • -Ballston Spa hosts Colonie Central; 
  • -Schuylerville will visit Johnstown; and
  • -Burnt Hills will visit Averill Park.


We ventured out to each team’s practices to grab some photographs and soak up some vintage ‘coach-isms’ as they urge and inspire their respective squads. Here are the top three we overheard, in no particular order: 


“Stop being comfortable!” 


“No walking please… you can walk home if you feel like walking!”


“I know you guys know what you should be doing, so go ahead and do it please!”  


It’s obvious that the coaches are already in mid-season form. Best of luck to everyone!



Schuylerville – led by Coach John Bowen, the Black Horses are coming off a big year (9-1 overall, with a perfect 5-0 in league play), averaging 36.2 points per game while surrendering only 11.4 ppg on defense…. Some returning players to watch include QB/DB Will Griffen, who will have an experienced tandem to throw to in WR/DB’s Tanner Dunkel and Joe Vanderhoof, along with RB/OLB Skyler Bateman and RB/DB Zach Pierce… An early test comes with their first two games on the road (at Johnstown Sept. 4, followed by Broadalbin-Perth on Sept. 11) but after that they are at home against traditionally strong Mechanicville (Sept. 18) and Glens Falls (Oct. 9).


Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake – Coach Matt Shell, in his 14th season, has a veteran squad that is looking to build upon a 7-3 season (4-1 in league play) that saw them go to the Section 2 class A finals… The Spartans are led by third-year starting QB John Clayton, RB’s Johnny O’Donnell and Michael Leveroni and a pack of experienced linemen for an offense that averaged 35.1 points per game last year. Their biggest tests should come on the road: Following the opener at Averill Park on Sept. 4, they will have road games at Queensbury on Sept. 26 and Scotia/Glenville on Oct. 16.


Ballston Spa – The Scotties are led by Coach Dave Murello, whose teaching skills will certainly need to be tested after losing a large graduating class from last year’s squad ….Key players to watch among the small roster include Senior QB Ryan Reed, along with FB/DE Elijah Washington, RB/ILB Ian Graham and RB/DB John Amash. The key to the Scotties’ fortunes will come in its last five games, with road contests against Albany (Sept. 19), Shenendehowa (Oct. 2) and Saratoga Springs (Oct. 16) along with hosting CBA on Sept. 25 and Guilderland (Oct. 9).


Saratoga Springs – Blue Streaks Coach Terry Jones promises that opponents will be kept off-balance with a wide variety of offensive options at his team’s disposal. “They’re all going to touch the ball,” he said at practice recently…. Among the key options for Senior QB Brian Williams are RB’s Robert Houghton and Ryan Manlapaz, as well as RB Dakota Harvey, who returns to the Blue Streaks after a year at Albany Academy. WR Nick Kondo, who is returning after being injured last season, will join WR Luke Thompson on a talented squad, with several also returning on the line,  to an offense the averaged 32.1 points per game last season. 

Thursday, 03 September 2015 12:13

Public Invited to 9/11 Ceremony and Remembrance

SARATOGA SPRINGS – All citizens are invited to attend an annual ceremony to honor and remember the heroes and those who were lost in the 9/11 attacks on our nation, on the event’s fourteenth anniversary – Friday, September 11, 2015. This event will begin at 8:35 a.m. at the “Tempered by Memory” sculpture in High Rock Park. 


The ceremony will begin with a presentation of color guard from the Saratoga Springs Police Department. The Saratoga Springs High School Choraliers will perform several songs throughout the ceremony. At exactly 8:46 a.m., hand bells will be rung followed by a moment of silence, to coincide with the time the of the first impact upon New York City’s World Trade Center by a hijacked airplane.


Following welcoming remarks by Former NYS Assemblyman Bobby D’Andrea, the Choraliers will sing our National Anthem. The Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Former Saratoga Springs Mayor Ken Klotz. 


An invocation will be delivered by Reverend Adam Weigand of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, after which Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen will deliver remarks and introduce the keynote speaker. 


The keynote speech will be delivered this year by John Betor, retired Saratoga Springs Assistant Fire Chief. Betor said he was “…humbled and honored to be chosen to speak” on this occasion. This will be followed by wreath presentations led by Saratoga Springs Police Chief Greg Veitch and Fire Chief Robert Williams, along with members of their respective department. 


The Choraliers will then lead attendees in the singing of “God Bless America, followed by a Benediction delivered by Reverend Carole Miller, the Saratoga Springs Fire Department Chaplain. The ceremony will conclude with Ernie Belanger of Wilton playing Taps. 


The City of Saratoga Springs is responsible for coordinating this annual remembrance and acknowledges the assistance provided by public and private organizations drawn from the community, including:  


Advantage Press, Inc.

Allerdice Rental

Ernie Belanger

Former Assemblyman Bobby D’Andrea 

Reverend Carole Miller

Mouzon House

Saratoga Guitar

Saratoga Springs Fire Department 

Saratoga Springs High School Choraliers 

Saratoga Springs Police Force Color Guard 

Saratoga Springs United Methodist Chancel Ringers 

U.S. Navy at KAPL

Reverend Adam Weigand

Thursday, 27 August 2015 09:54

Coach Johns to Play Times Square!

Participating in NYC’s World Tour Tennis Jam on Labor Day Weekend

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Coach Rich Johns will be packing his racquets, along with decades of tennis acumen, good cheer and, most importantly, his mission to spread respect (“Act with Respect Always”) to the “Crossroads of the World” on Labor Day weekend as part of an ambitious project that organizers hope will showcase the worldwide renaissance of tennis. 


Dubbed the inaugural World Tour Tennis Jam, the setting will certainly be attention-grabbing: Numerous tennis courts and presentation booths will be spread along several blocks in the Times Square area along Broadway from 42nd to 44th Streets. In other words, it should make for quite a photo op. During the 3-day expo (September 4 – 6), there will be numerous demonstrations and exhibition matches that will provide a platform about all aspects of the game, suitable for every level from beginner to expert.  


As part of the festivities, Coach Johns will be participating by speaking about his program to groups of junior teams and will also have an on-court teaching role, demonstrating and teaching everything from grips to serving for any level of player. Other roles are still being defined for the coach.


“I was thrilled to be asked to be involved in this,” Coach Johns noted. “I’m just one small player in a major event, but it’s great to be included.” 


Also, on September 5, Coach Johns will be an attendee at a dinner that will honor Billie Jean King and the fortieth anniversary of her role as both commissioner and major owner in the World Team Tennis league. It is possible that Coach Johns will be asked to speak at this event, as the two have a long history promoting the game. They first met in 1981, when King visited Saratoga Springs to promote a local event that was part of the USTA-Nike (United States Tennis Association) series. 


She was also on-hand when Coach Johns received the USTA’s Starfish Award in 2010. The Starfish Award was bestowed to Johns for his ‘no-cut’ policy during his tenure as a high-school tennis coach. The USTA’s website (usta.com) states: “…These coaches serve as positive role models and make a difference by spending the extra time and effort to ensure that thousands of young players experience the fun of representing their high school tennis teams.” 


Coach Johns’ participation in the World Tour Tennis Jam will add yet another chapter of honors to a legendary career that is best characterized by the phrases “paying it forward” and giving back to the community. 


For more information about the Labor Day Weekend event, visit worldtourtennisjam.com


Thursday, 27 August 2015 09:16

Where to Watch History

Travers Viewing Choices Abound

SARATOGA SPRINGS – So you got nosed out at the wire for an admission ticket to Saratoga Race Course this Saturday. No need to despair. This year, many of your favorite off-track venues are going the extra mile to entice you to visit their place on or about 5:46 p.m. on Travers Day. Civic and business leaders are making it clear that while the track may be sold out, Saratoga Springs is open for business and ready to welcome race fans.


“We want everyone to know that Saratoga is rolling out the red carpet not only for American Pharaoh but to those who want to be a part of this historic event by attending the best Travers viewing parties you’ll find anywhere in the world this Saturday,” said Todd Shimkus, President of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce. 


And there is little doubt that if your favorite establishment has one or more TV’s, they probably will be tuned to NBC on Saturday afternoon. They don’t even need cable. So, for people who live here year-round and have a preferred place to go, chances are you have already made plans, and hopefully, a phone call to secure your spot. 


For those who have not, plus the thousands, if not tens of thousands of visitors are expected to be swelling into every nook and cranny in town, seeking to be able to say “I was here on that day…” they first have to answer the question: “Where are we going to go?” The Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau has compiled a list of places (which is being updated continuously) of places that have planned Travers viewing parties. If you haven’t firmed up your plans, or your Aunt Edna decided to cancel her annual barbeque, it might be advisable to look through their webpage (visit www.2015saratogatravers.com for the latest updates). 


The list compiled below comes from that site and information compiled from other sources. It is long, and though not comprehensive, should give you ideas about some options. You do have choices, but by all means, if you are haven’t made plans by now, we urge you to start calling, as most places at least recommend reservations – it’s a good idea to consider it a requirement on Saturday. All phone numbers are area code 518 unless noted.


Besides the track, or a phone/computer app, there are only a few places to watch and wager on the Travers. A new one that is offering this convenience this year is The Hunt & Fish Club at Siro’s (168 Lincoln Avenue, 584-4030), which will have a NYRA booth on premise for wagering. On Saturday, the action there will commence at noon and stay rocking non-stop until midnight. 


Another place to view and bet is at Saratoga Casino and Raceway (584-2110), which has a few ambience options: you can watch on a 16-ft screen at Vapor (ages 21 and over) which opens at 4 p.m. and is also offering $3 Blue Moons and $4 Ketel One Citreon cocktails; Fortune’s Restaurant will have a special $32.95 Travers Buffet starting at noon and its regular dinner offerings following the last race across the street. Phone 581-5790 to reserve a Travers table. The Lodge will also be open for cocktails and wagering starting at 5 p.m., or you could elect to watch and wager from the mezzanine. 


If you have wagering handled (one way or another), or just want to watch and cheer (and say cheers!), here are some more options in town and specials they are running: 


The Barrelhouse  (68 Beekman Street, 871-1502) – They are tapping a keg of Dogfish Head Brewery’s “Midas Touch”, a beer brewed with ingredients dating back to The Pyramids and unveiling their “Pharoahtoga” Sandwich (A Triple Crown of beef, turkey, and ham on sourdough topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, guacamole, bacon and smoked gouda on three slices on fresh sourdough). 3 hours of open bar and BBQ Dinner for $50 in advance or $55 day of event, air conditioned bar or out on the patio, on flat screen televisions. They also have complimentary WiFi to place your bets on your gaming accounts. American Pharoah merchandise will be available for purchase.


Bookmakers at the Holiday Inn (232 Broadway, 584-4550)  –Happy Hour prices and complimentary hors d’oeuvres.


Brook Tavern (139 Union Avenue, 871-1473)– 2 TV’s, 4 to 6 p.m. Happy Hour: Draft, wine for $5, snacks 1/2 off, seats 30 people.


BWP  (74 Weibel Avenue, 763-2975) – Live NBC coverage on all 7 TV’s inside and out, $5 cheese and pepperoni pizzas, $15 buckets of Bud and Bud Light, Happy Hour from 3-6 p.m., live music starting at 7 p.m.


Crown Grill (390 Broadway, 583-1105) – Bar TV’s to watch the race, a special 3-course menu for $18.64 from 4-6 p.m., $5 cocktails: The Saratoga Mule (Tito’s Vodka, Bermuda Ginger Beer and Fresh Pressed Lime Juice) and The Triple Crown (Prosecco, Aperol, Blood Orange Liqueur and Fresh Pressed OJ from Saratoga Juice Bar), seafood and steak specials, reservations recommended, no cover.


End Zone Sports Pub (32 Ballston Avenue, 584-6460) – Large screen TV’s throughout to watch the races, bowling available, 50 percent off drinks and appetizers, capacity of 300 people.


Dango’s (30 Caroline Street, 587-2022) – Large screen TV’s throughout the patio and inside, doors open at 11 a.m. Reservations recommended, no cover, the Audiostars performing live after the race.


Diamond Club Grill  (86 Congress Street, 290-9090)– All day Happy Hour, half-priced appetizers, $3 select draft beer, $6 select wines by the glass, Manager’s Reception H’ors d’oeuvres table from 5:30-7:30 p.m.


Gaffney’s Restaurant (16 Caroline Street, 587-7359) – TV’s throughout the restaurant to watch the races, drink specials. 


Harvey’s Irish Pub and Restaurant (14 Phila Street, 583-0003) – Many TV’s throughout the restaurant to watch the races, drink specials and 11th hour bar specials from 11 p.m. – midnight, The Wallies perform live from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., reservations recommended, seats 250 people.


The Ice House (70 Putnam Street, 261-1766) – Many large screen TV’s with new surround sound, appetizer and beer specials, live music after the race, no cover until 8 p.m. ($10 after).


Jacob & Anthony’s (38 High Rock Avenue, 871-1600)– Party starts at 11 a.m., drink and food specials, live music on the patio with chances to win prizes.


Lillian’s Restaurant  (408 Broadway, 587-7766) – Special drink for Travers:  “Julep of the Nile”, 52” flat screen TV for viewing the races.


The Parting Glass (40-42 Lake Avenue, 583-1916) – Doors open at 10 a.m., serving traditional Irish Breakfast, back patio cook out at 6 p.m. Watch the races all day on one of the large flat screen TV’s, no reservations necessary. Special drink is Irish American Pharoah – with Tito’s potato vodka, midori and lemonade.


Putnam’s Restaurant and Bar (24 Gideon Putnam Road, 226-

4719) – Drink specials, seats 90 people.


Recovery Sports Grill (2537 Route 9, Malta, 899-8156)– Drink specials, wear a ‘track’ hat and get 10 percent off your bill.


Restaurant at 62 Beekman (62 Beekman Street, 584-1022) – Three 42” LCD TV’s and large outdoor patio, party starts at 11:45 a.m. with specials throughout the 13 races, Brunch will be served from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. and dinner service’s last seating is at 9:30 p.m. Reservations strongly recommended. Specials are for (bar area only):, 2 for 1 Drinks at the bar including top shelf, drafts and wine, $5 tapas. A silent auction for $50 gift card and a contest for a $25 gift card for the best Travers hat or fastener by popular vote (must be present to claim prize).


Saratoga National Golf Club (458 Union Avenue, 306-2330) – Several large-screen TV’s for easy viewing, seats 250 people. Prime Steak & Seafood buffet at the Blue Stone Tent Pad, Reservations are available between 7 and 10 p.m. Reservations required.  


Seven Horse Pub (43 Phila Street, 581-0777) – Food and drink specials.


Stadium Cafe (389 Broadway, 226-4437) – 25 TV’s on all your favorite sports, offering our Signature Ribs and Chicken Breast doused in an award-winning BBQ sauce with a side of macaroni salad. Also offering Sweet Tea cocktail - made with Twisted Tea draught and peach vodka. Reservations recommended, no cover, seats 220 people.


Three Vines Bistro & Bar (32A Congress Street, 306-5881) – 2 TV’s, 4:30-6:30 p.m. buy 1, get 1 beer, well drinks and house wines. Food specials, reservations recommended, seats 115 people.


West Side Sports Bar & Grill (112 Congress Street, 691-0193)  – 25 TV’s on all your favorite sports, offering our Signature Ribs and Chicken Breast doused in our award winning BBQ sauce with a side of macaroni salad. Also offering Sweet Tea cocktail - made with Twisted Tea draught and peach vodka. Reservations recommended, no cover, seats 130 people.



Wheatfields Saratoga (440 Broadway, 587-0534) – 4 flat screen TV’s to view the race, starts at 3 p.m. with complimentary appetizers and pizza buffet, Travers drink and draft beer specials, hat Contest, superfecta tickets, prizes and live NBC coverage at 4 p.m., seats 100 people.

Thursday, 20 August 2015 10:40

Soccer Diplomacy

Saratoga Wilton Soccer Club to Play Friendly Matches in Ireland


WILTON— This month, some young boys who are members of the Saratoga Wilton 12 and under Soccer Club, along with their families, will have the experience of a lifetime as they embark on a trip to Ireland. They will be playing a series of friendly matches against boys their age near Galway and Wexford, arranged by the boys’ Coach, Rob Kelly.


Fourteen boys and their families – a total of 48 people, including coaches, will be making the trip. In addition to the matches, the party will also be escorted by Coach Kelly, a native of Dublin, Ireland, around points of interest along the southern end of the island through Cork and concluding in Dublin. 


Coach Kelly, who came to the U.S. in 2012 and now works for GLOBALFOUNDRIES, recalled that the idea came about in jest. “We were at a coaches and booster’s meeting last September, and the President of our Booster Club threw out the idea as a joke. But the more I thought about it; it seemed like something worth looking into. Running it past the parents, I got such good feedback that I started to look into it sincerely.” 


He soon learned it serious undertaking. In addition to the logistical challenges of taking a group on a long international trip, the amount to fly, lodge and feed one child, in addition to other expenses such as transportation while in Ireland, would cost about $3,000 each. Fortunately, the community provided a great deal of help to make the trip a reality. 


Nearly two-dozen businesses and individuals bought banners for display for the spring and early summer season at the Club’s home pitches at Gavin Park in Wilton. Also, Allerdice, Applebee’s, Bonacio Construction, Dr. Singh, Hoffman’s Car Wash and Wal-Mart made donations or afforded community based fundraising opportunities to further support the team’s travel expenses. In all, about $15,000 was raised to assure that every child on the squad who needed assistance to make the trip received it. 


“The things that have stood out to me through the planning of this whole experience has been the commitment of the parents to make this opportunity a reality, and the generosity of community businesses, friends and families,” said Coach Kelly. “I could not have envisioned such dedication from so many people. Bringing a team over 3,000 miles away is not just an amazing experience for the boys and their families, but it will be an honor for me to introduce them to my home country.”


Thursday, 20 August 2015 10:25

La Verdad Ready for Primetime

Lady Sheila Stable Looks to Score Grade I Victory on Travers Day

SARATOGA SPRINGS – If you want a tip for Travers Day, bet on the Ballerina in the Ballerina.


Lady Sheila Stable’s La Verdad is pointing towards a Grade I score in the Ballerina Stakes on Travers Day, August 29. Should that happen, it would be another major milestone for rising star Lady Sheila Stable. 


Owner Sheila Rosenblum has, in short order, put together a winning coalition with her own stable, as well as syndications (Lady Sheila Stable Two and Triumphant Trio) that have emphasized female ownership at its core, in what is often a male-dominated industry. Having achieved great success as a Wilhelmina and Ford Agency model, with training at both The Royal Ballet School in London and the School of American Ballet, Ms. Rosenblum has set her sights on achieving success with what she described as “…four-legged ballet dancers. I have a good eye for conformation because of ballet,” she said, laughing, “I know a good leg when I see one!” The key element in her success to date has been a partnership with leading trainer Linda Rice.


“I looked for a New York trainer and was impressed with Linda’s determination when we met three years ago,” Rosenblum stated. “She drove all night to meet with me and said, ‘I promise you will feel victory’, and she has delivered. It’s a perfect partnership. Linda is a magician with horses in every aspect - race placement, training and workouts. I like to refer to us as a dynamic duo! Linda and I certainly have different personalities – she likes to say ‘I’m the workhorse and she’s the show horse’ – but we mix together perfectly.” Rice is also a “full-fledged partner” in Rosenblum’s all-female syndicates.   


Indeed, La Verdad (a 5-year-old mare who is a New York-bred daughter of Yes It's True) is truly the star of Lady Sheila Stable, and her record this season is a testament to Linda Rice’s skillful handling. After about a 100-day rest period following her 4-year-old season, La Verdad has come back with a vengeance: undefeated in four starts, including two Grade II’s, a Grade III and a Stakes Race. Her latest score was an important July 29 victory over the Saratoga Race Course oval in the Grade II $200,000 Honorable Miss, in which leading Jockey Jose Ortiz sent La Verdad to the front and never looked back, achieving a wire-to-wire victory in a sizzling 1:09.14 for six furlongs. Among those left in La Verdad’s wake was last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint winner Judy the Beauty. 


La Verdad now has 14 victories in 20 starts, earning well over $1 million dollars. $1,170,000 - to be exact. And that’s The Truth – which, by the way, is the English translation of La Verdad’s name. Also true is that it sets up La Verdad for a big run for what Rosenblum calls “that elusive Grade I victory” in the Ballerina, with a purse of $500,000 at a distance of 7 furlongs. 


“As a result of a lot of hard work, the support of my family (daughter Kara and son Erik), developing a plan with Linda and sticking to it – a product of my Swiss heritage (laughing) – my dreams are becoming reality,” Rosenblum said. 


Sheila Rosenblum’s frequent trips to the winner’s circle were, in fact, just a dream prior to acquiring La Verdad and teaming up with Linda Rice. Call their success the result of a combination of mercurial energy and discipline. That success soon led to a desire to share the experience with others, leading to the formation of syndicates whose members are women that run the gamut from Hollywood to housewife (“THE most underrated occupation,” she said). “It’s great to share the spotlight, and the thrill of these magnificent animals,” Rosenblum noted. “We’ve all become an extended family.” 


Regardless of the Ballerina Stakes’ outcome, it is clear that Lady Sheila Stable and its extended family have danced their way onto racing’s biggest stage, and don’t plan to leave anytime soon.  

Thursday, 13 August 2015 10:35

Stories of Inspiration and Survival

Saratoga Regional YMCA Celebrates LIVESTRONG Program 

By Arthur Gonick

Saratoga TODAY 


SARATOGA SPRINGS – The skies had been gloomy all day, but the sun burst through just in time, sending shining rays of optimism down on all who were at the Union Gables Bed and Breakfast on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 11. The sunshine was welcome, but hardly necessary, as the attendees brought enough good cheer to brighten and enlighten anything.


The occasion was a luncheon gathering of well-wishers and participants in the Saratoga Regional YMCA’s LIVESTRONG program, who came together to share their experiences, but mostly to celebrate. Those who spoke, trainers in the program or cancer survivors, gave their own personal messages that were united in spirit under the keyword: HOPE.


LIVESTRONG at the YMCA is a 12-week exercise program, offered at little to no cost, to help survivors improve their strength and physical fitness, diminish the severity of therapy side effects, develop supportive relationships and improve their quality of life.   


Following a greeting by Interim CEO Kelly Armer, Lauren Frankford and Nicole Griffiths, two LIVESTRONG coaches, detailed their experiences. Frankford noted, “…for every story of hardship, there are 15 positive ones.” Griffith cited the inspiration of her father, who passed at an early age after a long struggle with cancer. “I now coach the program to give others what I wasn’t able to give my dad,” she said. 


Cancer survivor Carol Bataglia lauded the LIVESTRONG program at the YMCA, saying “… it was helpful on so many levels. It truly ‘takes a village’ of support to move ahead on a cancer journey, and this program provides it.” Her story shows “you should never be afraid to ask for help.” Survivor Cindy Swaba observed that the LIVESTRONG program at the Saratoga Regional Y was an aspect of their program offerings that she did not know about prior to having cancer, but, once enrolled, found the staff and program so motivating that “… no matter how I was feeling (because of her treatment) I made the commitment to go to my classes twice a week.” 


Other speakers who shared stories of inspiration and survival included: Ann Lawton, a community liaison nurse at St. Peters Hospital’s Cancer Center; NYS Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner; Ellen Salerni, who is both a survivor and chair of the event committee; Susan Rhoades, development director at the Saratoga Regional YMCA and John Higgins, LIVESTRONG project manager. 


The community at large was motivated to help the program, as evidenced by the afternoon’s 57 silent auction items, which Armer said valued $12,000 collectively. The proceeds of this afternoon’s celebratory luncheon would fund the LIVESTRONG program into the future, and guarantee some measure of sunshine for those in the community facing cancer’s darkness. 


For more information about LIVESTRONG at the Saratoga Regional YMCA and their other programs, visit www.srymca.org

Thursday, 13 August 2015 10:26

Shear Greatness!

Saratoga Springs Resident Selected for Basketball Hall of Fame

By Arthur Gonick

Saratoga TODAY


SARATOGA SPRINGS – Fred Shear, a Saratoga County native who is a member of Siena College’s class of 1973, has received a major honor that caps off an impressive basketball career. He has been named to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s (MAAC) Hall of Fame Honor Roll, and on October 17, he will be enshrined in “The MAAC Experience” exhibit in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA. 


Shear set numerous scoring and other records while at Siena, several of which still stand today. These records were established despite competing in an era when college players were only eligible to play for three years, and at a time when there was no 3-point scoring line or shot clock to inflate scoring totals. He is one of only four players in the college’s illustrious history to have his number (50) retired, and it hangs at the Times Union Center in Albany.  


Shear is a long-time resident of Saratoga Springs with his wife, Christine. The couple will be celebrating their 40th anniversary this year. When asked about this latest honor, Shear exhibited a sense of gratitude and humility. 


“Obviously, the recognition is wonderful,” he said, “but I have to accept and acknowledge it on behalf of my coaches and teammates.” 


During Fred Shear’s time at Siena, the conference they played in was known as the “MECA,” short for Middle Eastern Collegiate Association. Many of Siena’s big rivals are the same as today – such as Iona, Marist and St. Peters, and… “Albany State, as it was known in those days,” Shear said. “We would play them twice a year, plus in a Capital District Basketball Tournament that had RPI and Union. Those games were always a struggle.”


Most home games were played in Gibbons Hall on campus, which had a capacity of about 1,000. “Even then, Siena fans had a mania about the team. With the fans so close to the action, it made for a real home court advantage,” Shear said. The bigger games were played in the Washington Avenue Armory, which seated about 5,000. “The alumni at Siena have always been supportive. Because so many graduates remain in the Capital Region, that also leads to lifelong relationships that I am proud to enjoy. That’s why this is such an honor. Any time you can represent Siena, it’s a great thing,” he said. 


“I always strived for consistency on both ends of the floor,” Shear said. That consistency is evidenced by his senior career scoring average of 20.3 – which is the same as his three-year average at Siena. But if Shear was consistent, it was consistently at a high plane. Consider these career highlights – a few selected among many: 


  • -He was the first 2-time basketball All-American in Siena’s history.
  • -He is a member of the Capital District Basketball Hall of Fame, the Waterford/Halfmoon High School Hall of Fame (where he also set several records,) and was the first player to be elected to Siena College’s Hall of Fame on his first year of eligibility (1978). 
  • -Shear was the fastest player in Siena history to score 1,000 points (52 games) and held Siena’s career total scoring record (again, without the 3-point line, playing less games per year and only three years) for 14 years.


His biggest and most memorable win, Shear recalls, was his first as a senior. Named as Captain of the squad, “it was the very first game for (now legendary) Coach Bill Kirsch. We had to travel on the road at Seton Hall – a big time program that was coached by (now CBS’ NCAA Commentator) Bill Raftery. It was a great win to start off a great career for our Coach,” Shear noted. 


Now retired after over 30 years in sales for Kimberly Clark, Fred Shear continues to be active in basketball. He goes to games at his alma mater Siena, as well as those for Waterford/Halfmoon and other area High Schools. He had high praise for current Saratoga Springs High School Coach Matt Usher, whom Shear coached when Usher himself was on the JV and Varsity squads at SSHS. 


And it is as a coach, giving back to the community, that Shear’s excellence continues to have a lasting impact. He has been an assistant coach in both the Saratoga Springs and Ballston Spa School Districts. Currently, he can be seen on the sidelines for 2 AAU squads (under 16 and ages 13-14) in Saratoga Springs, and works on intensive skills with selected elementary students in the Ballston Spa School District. “I do my best with young players. It’s great to work with them, they are very receptive and I find I can get them on the right path if I work with them before their habits are molded,” he said. 


Any young player would doubtless benefit from Fred Shear’s basketball expertise, but more importantly from his example as a role model. Enshrinement in The Basketball Hall of Fame is a fitting reward. 


When asked how it will feel to walk into the Hall on October 17 and see his exhibit, he said, laughing, 


“You know, I have to tell you. I’ve never been there! But I’m certainly looking forward to it.”

SARATOGA SPRINGS  – Chloe Boutelle, a member of Saratoga Springs High School’s (SSHS) class of 2011, is currently part of a select group that has reached the second round of nominees for the 2015 NCAA Woman of the Year award. Boutelle was recognized for her standout two-sport career as a member of the Nordic skiing and cross-country squads for Division II St. Michael’s College in Vermont. 


Currently, Boutelle is one of 147 conference and independent nominees from around the country, and one of only 39 from a Division II college. A record 480 women were originally put forward as candidates for the award. She is a representative of the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association, which includes Division I schools Harvard University and the University of Vermont.  St. Michael’s College is a member of the Northeast-10 (NE-10) conference. 


While at SSHS, Boutelle was a member of the school’s initial Nordic ski team as a sophomore. “We joined a very competitive league, with strong squads from Shenendehowa and Lake George,” Boutelle said. By her senior year, she had progressed to the point that she the high school’s first representative to go to the state tournament. She also was on the school’s cross-country team, and a member of the soccer squad as well. 


It was during those years that “…I learned a lot about motivating teammates and working together,” she said. “This worked both ways. I remember during a cross-country training trip to Chula Vista, CA, we were on a grueling course on an island. It was tough going, but one of my teammates – Grace Hungerford – reached back and pulled me forward to spur me on.” 


So even though she was striving for individual excellence in her chosen college sports, because of her grounding at SSHS, Boutelle was never far from being aware of the importance of the team dynamic:


“It’s been an interesting transition,” she said. “I had always played soccer growing up, which is more of a ‘pure’ team sport. So I had to adopt a different mindset mentally. But it’s always more satisfying if the team wins versus any individual awards.” 


This was further evidenced by her reaction to receiving the nomination, where she emphasized her teammates:


“I am humbled and grateful to have been nominated for this honor,” said Boutelle. “I'm excited that this gives recognition to (St. Michael’s) Nordic skiing team, which has grown and become stronger over the past few years.” 


The NCAA Woman of the Year program honors the academic achievements, athletics excellence, community service and leadership of graduating female college athletes from all three divisions. To be eligible, nominees must have competed and earned a varsity letter in an NCAA-sponsored sport and must have completed eligibility in her primary sport.


At St. Michael’s, Chloe Boutelle truly blossomed.  She qualified four times for NE-10 Conference’s All-Conference cross-country accolades.  Boutelle also claimed her third career United States Collegiate Ski Coaches Association National Collegiate All-Academic Ski Team nod as a senior while pacing the Purple Knights in five races during her final season. A captain for both the women's cross country and Nordic skiing programs as a senior, Boutelle claimed her third NE-10 Academic All-Conference accolade for cross country while capping off a career during which she qualified for the NE-10 Commissioner's Honor Roll in seven semesters, studying abroad in the eighth.


Having received her degree, Boutelle intends to pursue graduate school in the fall. He goal is to become a registered dietitian. 


The NCAA Woman of the Year selection committee will have two more cut down rounds. Ultimately, the members of the NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics will select the 2015 NCAA Woman of the Year from the top nine finalists, with the 2015 NCAA Woman of the Year announcement at an awards dinner in Indianapolis on Sunday, October 18. 


For more information about NCAA Woman of the Year, visit www.ncaa.org/WOTY.


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