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Two Seniors Crowned at Indoor Track Finals at Cornell
ITHACA – Saratoga Springs High School Seniors Aidan Tooker and Tom Conboy were crowned State champions on Saturday, March 5, at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships, which were held at Cornell University. Conboy won the title in the pole vault, Tooker in the 3,200-meter event.
Conboy had won the Sectional title and on Saturday, vaulted 14 feet, 6 inches to beat capture the State crown. This bested his nearest rival by 3 inches in that event.
Tooker won the 3,200-meter event with a time of 9:03.81, outpacing his nearest rival by well over two seconds. Tooker has also pledged to attend Syracuse University next fall, competing in both track and cross-country, and took part in the National Letter of Intent Ceremony, which took place last November 12.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Four jockeys, four Thoroughbreds and two trainers comprise the 10 finalists on the National Museum of Racing’s 2016 Hall of Fame ballot, as selected by the Museum’s Hall of Fame Nominating Committee on Wednesday, March 9. The finalists are: jockeys Ramon Dominguez, Victor Espinoza, Garrett Gomez and Craig Perret; Thoroughbreds English Channel, Kona Gold, Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta; and trainers Steve Asmussen and David Whiteley.
Dominguez, English Channel, Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta are first-time finalists. Hall of Fame voters may select as many candidates as they believe are worthy of induction to the Hall of Fame. A maximum of four candidates with the highest vote totals — provided they receive majority approval (50.1 percent) of the voting panel — will be elected to the Hall of Fame. If less than than four candidates receive “yes” votes from a majority of voters, there will be fewer than four inductees in 2016.
The results of the voting on contemporary candidates will be announced on Monday, April 25. The induction ceremony will be held at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion in Saratoga Springs on Friday, August 12 at 10:30 a.m. The ceremony is free and open to the public.
The finalists were selected by the Hall of Fame’s 16-member Nominating Committee from a total of 82 initial candidates suggested by turf journalists, Thoroughbred industry participants and racing fans. To be eligible, trainers must have been licensed for 25 years, while jockeys must have been licensed for 20 years. Thoroughbreds must be retired for five calendar years before becoming eligible. All candidates must have been active within the past 25 years. The 20- and 25-year requirements for jockeys and trainers, respectively, may be waived, at the discretion of the Museum’s Executive Committee. Dominguez, who rode from 1996 through 2013 before suffering a career-ending injury, had the 20-year requirement waived by the Executive Committee. Candidates not active within the past 25 years are eligible through the Historic Review process.
Dominguez, 39, won 4,985 races (23 percent) and $191,620,277 in his career and won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Espinoza, 43, has won 3,266 races (15 percent) with earnings of $186,231,530 through March 8. An Eclipse Award finalist in 2015 when he rode Horse of the Year American Pharoah to the first Triple Crown in 37 years, Espinoza has a total of seven victories in the Triple Crown series, including five in the past two years.
Gomez, 44, rode from 1988 through 2013 and won 3,769 races (17 percent) and $205,224,899. The Eclipse Award winner in 2007 and 2008, Gomez led all North American riders in earnings in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.
Perret, 66, won 4,415 races and had purse earnings of $113,837,299 in a career that spanned from 1967 through 2005. He was North America’s leading apprentice jockey in earnings in 1967 and won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 1990.
Rachel Alexandra was named Horse of the Year and Champion 3-Year-Old Filly in 2009 and posted a career record of 13-5-0 from 19 starts and earned $3,506,730. As a 3-year-old in 2009, Rachel Alexandra delivered a perfect record in eight starts. She won at seven different tracks that year. She became the first filly to win the Preakness, second jewel of the Triple Crown, since 1924 when she defeated Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird. Later that season, Rachel Alexandra topped older males in a dramatic Woodward victory at Saratoga Race Course. Her sophomore ledger was 8-0-0 from eight starts and earnings of $2,746,914.
Zenyatta, who posted a career mark of 19-1-0 from 20 starts and earnings of $7,304,580, was named Horse of the Year in 2010 and won a total of four Eclipse Awards in her career. Overall, Zenyatta won a total of 17 graded stakes, including 13 Grade 1s.
Kona Gold was the Eclipse Award winner for Champion Sprinter and runner-up for Horse of the Year as a 6-year-old in 2000. Kona Gold posted a career record of 14-7-2 from 30 starts with earnings of $2,293,384.
English Channel posted a career record of 13-4-1 from 23 starts and earned $5,319,028. A winner of seven graded stakes, including six Grade 1 events, English Channel won his lone start as a 2-year-old in the summer of 2004 at Saratoga.
Asmussen, 50, ranks second all time in career wins (7,246 through March 8) and fourth in earnings ($237,473,515), in a training career that began in 1986 after a brief time as a jockey. The Eclipse Award winner for Outstanding Trainer in 2008 and 2009, Asmussen has led all North American trainers in wins nine times and earnings three times.
Whiteley, 71, the son of Hall of Fame trainer Frank Whiteley, Jr., trained the champions Revidere, Waya and Just a Game (IRE) and won 678 races in a career that spanned from 1970 through 1995. He won 33 percent of his starts (678-for-2,068) and had purse earnings of $11,837,823.
Spring Break Overnight Camp Seeking Families with Special Needs
LAKE GEORGE – If you are part of a family that has a child with special needs or a life threatening illness, or know one – this may be the most important story you read today.
A fully funded overnight family camp program is looking to add 10-15 additional families to take part in this free, yet priceless experience. The details are below, but you must act quickly.
Camp TLC – a free camp experience that connects children who have experienced medical or life trauma by offering unique ways of coping through recreational and performing arts based activities – is expanding to include Saratoga County families, and will take place during this year’s spring break period – from April 24-28. The camp will be hosted at the YMCA Camp Chingachgook in Lake George.
Camp TLC, which stands for Together Living a Challenge, has a program model that incorporates the whole family unit into the camp experience – with an emphasis on developing necessary skills and building self-esteem as a means to overcome challenges.
According to Founder and Executive Director Caroline Baumis, herself a native of Saratoga Springs, similar camps around the country have been successful over the past five years and she is particularly excited about establishing Camp TLC in her native region. “We are honored and grateful for our connections in Upstate New York and excited to expand our program to meet the needs of more children and families in Saratoga County. Our relationships with local organizations – including the Upstate New York Austism Alliance – help us recruit new families so that we can provide a week of resources, respite, love and wellness.”
“We are especially thankful for the support of foundations such as the Alfred Z. Solomon Charitable Trust, Charles R. Wood Foundation, and the Kennedy Mulcahy Fund of the Ethel and W. George Kennedy Foundation for their continuous support of our camp program.” Baumis has previously been involved with a day camp for backstretch workers and other charitable activities such as with Medical Missions for Children. She noted that the overnight camp model has proven to be logistically easier to achieve than day camps (where daily transportation could be an issue for some) while proving to be a superior experience for participating families.
While many local families have been recruited for the April camp, the good news is that there is room for up to about 15 more. There is an application process, and it is requested that you apply by March 21, to allow for screening and processing. Here is what you do:
Families that participate in Camp TLC at Chingachgook will be able to participate in a broad variety of activities that you would expect from a comprehensive camp experience, including yoga, massage, a petting zoo, arts and crafts, bingo nights, sing-alongs with local favorite Rich Ortiz around the campfire, drive-in movie night, hiking and other outdoor activities, guitar and theater lessons, in addition to special theme days such as carnival day and color games in which kids get to ‘pie’ their parents. “That’s always a favorite,” Baumis said, laughing.
Overall, “Our campers will love the warm and encouraging atmosphere and it serves the entire family,” Baumis said.
For more information, visit www.thecamptlc.org. Camp TLC also has Facebook and Twitter pages.
Saratoga Casino and Raceway’s 75th Racing Season begins this Weekend
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Happy birthday to one of the best-looking and healthiest 75-year-olds we know!
Friday, March 4 will mark the beginning of Saratoga Raceway’s 75th anniversary season of live harness racing. The first post for Friday is set for 6:45 p.m. In honor of the 75th anniversary, 75-cent deals on hot dogs, sodas and programs will be featured on Friday and Saturday of opening weekend. Those two days will also feature $75 mutuel voucher giveaways after each race to patrons who submit an entry form found in their racing program. Sunday, March 6 will feature a commemorative t-shirt giveaway for fans. Guests will receive a coupon in each racing program, which can be redeemed for a free “75th Year of Racing” shirt.
In 75 years, this historic half-mile oval has accumulated a lot of highlights. Here are some of the brightest:
On June 26, 1941, the first night of live racing, 4,048 patrons attended the first race program at what was then called Saratoga Harness. Historically, Saratoga Harness is now the third oldest harness track – and the first ever specifically constructed for that purpose - in pari-mutuel harness racing. ‘Lucile Glow,’ a three-year old trotting filly, won the first ever race at the track with a time of 2:12.1. Since then, the harness track has featured almost 11,000 racing programs that have created a tremendous amount of historic moments with racing fans spanning generations.
As Saratoga Harness grew and prospered, so did the sport of harness racing. In 1941, Saratoga Harness conducted 26 racing programs, with racing fans wagering an average of $27,050 on each program. Each year, the attendance and handle continued to grow as the popularity of harness racing increased. With the exception of 1943, when racing was cancelled because of World War II, racing at Saratoga Harness experienced unparalleled growth. Total handle grew from $9.5 million in 1950 to $17.2 million in 1960 to an even more impressive $45.7 million in 1970. The number of racing programs soared from 90 in 1950 to triple digits in 1960 and close to 200 in 1970.
The quality of racing also improved mightily, as Saratoga Harness attracted the top standardbreds in the country with the arrival of Grand Circuit racing. Darn Safe became the first trotter to break the two minute mile mark on a half-mile track in 1957 with a 1:59.4 mile, and Laverne Hanover became the first two-year-old to better the (then) magic two minute mark with a sparkling 1:59.4 effort, as Saratoga Harness began to earn its moniker as “the world’s fastest half mile track”.
The great Nevele Pride graced the Spa oval on September 6, 1969, and trotted a mile in 1:56.4, at the time the fastest mile in history on a half-mile track. Hall of Famer Stanley Dancer was in the sulky that afternoon, and that mark would stand up until 1988, when Mack Lobell won a Breeders Crown event at Saratoga Harness in 1:56 for John Campbell.
It is estimated that Saratoga Raceway has welcomed over 24 million guests over the course of their 75 racing years, and throughout that span of racing, total on-track handle has exceeded $1.5 billion.
Simulcast of the Saratoga Harness signal also continues to increase in popularity, reaching an all-time record of $36 million wagered worldwide in 2015. Over 300 venues across the world will carry the simulcast signal in 2016.
“We couldn’t be more proud of the past 75 years of racing,” said Director of Racing Operations, John Matarazzo. “It’s an incredible milestone for us, and we look forward to continuing the tradition of excellence that has been the track’s hallmark from the beginning.”
A highlight of the upcoming race season will be the eighth annual Joe Gerrity, Jr. Memorial Pace, which will feature one dash for a $260,000 purse on July 23. The Gerrity Memorial Pace always attracts the best pacers in the Northeast. Last year’s pace was won by ‘PH Supercam,’ who finished in an impressive 1:50.1. Saratoga Casino and Raceway’s 2016 racing season will offer $14 million in purses, and their spring schedule will consist of live racing Fridays and Saturdays at 6:45 p.m., Sunday matinees at 12:45 p.m. and a 4 p.m. twilight post for the Thursday cards.
In keeping with another long-standing tradition, parking and admission on all race days are free.
For a full racing schedule and additional information, visit www.saratogacasino.com or call 800-727-2990.
First Since 1989
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Saratoga Central Catholic Saints Boys Basketball Squad concluded their season on Tuesday, March 1, with a tight 68-65 loss in the State Regional to Brushton-Moira at SUNY Potsdam. However, along the way Coach Ken Mantia and his team achieved something for the first time since 1989 in netting the Section 2, Class C title.
The Saints came alive at the right time, posting successive victories over Greenwich, 54-44 on Saturday, February 20 at HVCC, followed by successive victories at the Glens Falls Civic Center – over Middleburgh, 81-71 on Wednesday, February 23, and then over Lake George on Saturday, February 26 with a convincing 59-42 win that netted Spa Catholic their Class C crown.
Leading the Saints in several scoring categories was junior guard Connor Farrington. In addition to 55 three-point goals, he had 102 free throws and 102 free throws made on the season. Farrington also led the team in scoring in all three of the Saints’ playoff wins, pumping in 14 (tied with senior forward Evan Pescetti) against Greenwich, a monster 34-point performance (including eight three-pointers) against Middleburgh, and then 18 against Lake George in the Class C Final. In those last two wins, Farrington was ably supported by sophomore forward Tyler Haraden, who contributed 20 and 14, respectively.
With Farrington and Haraden returning next year, Coach Mantia has a solid foundation to build upon for next year.
First State Champ for Schuylerville Wrestling
SCHUYLERVILLE – Hail to the State Champion- the first in Schuylerville Black Horses wrestling history!
A big salute to sophomore Orion Anderson, who became the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s (NYSPHSSA) Division II’s 106-pound class champion on Saturday, February 27, at the state tournament at The Times Union Center in Albany. Orion scored a solid 8-1 win over his opponent, Cahill Donovan from Section 3’s Phoenix High School to secure the title. Orion, who was a runner-up in last year’s state tournament as a freshman, is primed for a great career at Schuylerville and beyond. Congratulations to Orion, his family and the Black Horses!
Saratoga Springs Hockey was once again represented well among the 2015-16 All-Stars – with senior forward senior Elliott Hungerford named Player of the Year, and three of his teammates named to the All-Section 2 Team:
2015-16 Player of the Year:
#9 - Elliott Hungerford, FWD, Saratoga
All-Section 2 Team:
#24 - Jake Fauler, FWD, Saratoga
#25 - Josh Dagle, FWD, Saratoga
#5 - Tino Benamati, FWD, Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa
#20 - Brendan Coffey, DEF, Saratoga
#9 - Ned Engelbride, DEF, Bethlehem
#31 - James Blanchfield, GOAL, Niskayuna
#44 - Geordan Buffoline, FWD, Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa
#5 - Hayden Haldane, FWD, Shenendehowa
#21 - Mike Lemieux, FWD, Bethlehem
#4 - Sam Swingruber, DEF, Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa
#14 - Sean Mesick, DEF, CBA
#31 - Tom Fornabia, GOAL, Saratoga
#25 - Jared Thomas, FWD, Tri-Falls
#17- Thomas Liebold, FWD, Bethlehem
#2 - Jonathan Luse, FWD, Saratoga
#24 - Zachary Turnbull, DEF, Shaker/Colonie
#17 - Tom Relyea, DEF, Shenendehowa
#31 - Matt Chieco, GOAL, Shenendehowa
- Source: Capital District High School Hockey League, 2/14/16
Coach Rick Cobello Remembers the Beginnings of Saratoga Hockey’s Great Tradition
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Note: The local sports community has hockey fever - spurred on by another great season from Saratoga High School’s talented squad, an appearance at the Section 2 Finals on Thursday, February 25, with a chance to repeat as section champions – and perhaps go much further into the State Tournament. Due to press times, we are unable to print the results of Thursday night’s Section 2 Championship game between Saratoga and Tri-Falls. Win or lose (and I’m betting they have won – you’ll know by the time you read this, and if so we’ll do something special next week). In the meantime, we thought you might like to read something that speaks to the great tradition that Saratoga Hockey enjoys, a tradition established 40 years ago.
Saratoga Hockey’s first Coach, Rick Cobello, as well as many players and supporters established the first chapters of that tradition in large part. He shared the memorabilia you see on this page, as well as reminiscences of those early halcyon days of getting the team established. He also has started a Facebook group – Saratoga Springs High School Hockey History – that he is inviting everyone, particularly former players and followers of that early era to join. “This is an era that should not be forgotten,” Coach Rick said, “They were tough days, but so worthwhile.”
He noted with some sadness that he was spurred on in part by the loss of alumni players from that era (including Steve Meinhart, John David Covell, Mark Leroux, and John Eddy – who was the Captain of the original club team that began in 1974, as well as the original Varsity Squad of 1975-76. Eddy passed away around the Christmas holiday of that year), but also to give former and current players and boosters a focal point to remember and learn.
The early teams had some notable successes and highlight moments, including the championship of the CDHSHL (Capital District High School Hockey League) in 1977. Coach Rick was equally proud of the fact that “I had the opportunity to coach five sets of brothers in 4 years.”
One notable supporter was Ned Harkness, a hockey legend who won NCAA Championships at both RPI and Cornell, coached at Union, and was the first General Manager of the Adirondack Red Wings, among many other accomplishments. In addition to supporting Saratoga hockey by appearing at award banquets and other events, Harkness, according to Coach Rick “…wanted to grow hockey in the area... I am sure he thought he needed more fans in the Civic Center. I met Ned through a mutual friend and he wanted to help us in Saratoga Springs. Ned and I believed a high school game before the AHL game was a great way to grow the sport. Saratoga played the first high school hockey game (against Albany Academy on December 19, 1980) in the Civic Center... Remember, we used to play in a barn in Saratoga so this was luxury... We even had heat in the locker room! Our first game in the center and the first win (5-2) by a high school team in the Civic Center…It was an honor to play there. We played about half of our games in the Center as our second home site.”
The group’s page is full of unique and interesting tidbits like these, as well as photos, vintage newspaper articles and the like. It is well worth exploring for local hockey fans, regardless of age. Coach Cobello welcomes your contributions and memories.
When asked about the current team, Coach Rick Cobello had nothing but praise. “They’re doing great; it goes back to having a strong youth program as a foundation. And strong coaching from Dave Torres. He was a goalie like me – which provides a good basis for coaching as it’s the only position where you see the entire game,” he said with a smile.
The current Blue Streak hockey squad “…doesn’t quit. They are very balanced, there’s not much difference between their three lines. No matter who is on the ice at the time, they are very disciplined, and stick to their plan.” He said.
Coach Rick Cobello was scheduled to talk to the team before Thursday’s Section 2 Final. It’s one of the many ways the team reinforces its tradition, a tradition of excellence that began with a dedicated group and a vision of a bright future. And Coach Rick Cobello is inviting you to join him as a keeper of that flame.
To join the Facebook group ‘Saratoga Springs High School History’, visit www.facebook.com/groups/965715813470898/