In as much, Wednesday’s deluge seemed to saturate just about everything in the Spa City. This included the 18,000 some-odd fans so starved for the sport of kings that they braved a ceaseless rain to see a slate of opening day horses so marred by changes that the original pink sheets proved largely useless. It rained for the red-eye breakfast. It rained through the first race. It rained, and then it rained some more.
But through an act of physics –or rather the media –the Capital Region was supersaturated with soggy opening day coverage. Just when it seemed like the readers and viewers couldn’t take another ounce of Saratoga coverage –just when it seemed all these trackside reports might diminish – another media source would jump in and shake things up. There wasn’t a news outlet within a 50-mile radius that didn’t have at least three representatives wandering around the water-laden Saratoga Race Course. In fact, it almost seemed as though there were more reporters and analysts than paying customers.
Perhaps the highlight of all this tripe was Liz Bishop –the longtime anchor of CBS 6 Albany –admit she plunged into a knee-deep mud puddle while broadly smiling at the cameras with her semi-soaked Saratoga-style hat. Note to Liz: the annual Hat’s Off ‘celebration’ isn’t until the weekend.
“…I ran into a woman as I came into the track and she was furious,” Bishop rambled. “She said you know what this rain is doing its preventing every woman in the Capital Region from wearing their best shoes to the track.”
Somewhere, there’s a feminist softly weeping right now. And to make matters worse, the CBS 6 crew didn’t even bother to show Bishop’s muddy feet. But in an attempt to gain an edge on the competition, they did do a historic montage of rainy days at the track; including one rather humiliating shot of veteran reporter Mary Beth Wenger looking very 1980s as she struggled onto a news van marooned in a puddle.
Like most regional papers, the Times Union jumped into the fray early, releasing “Saratoga Style” two days before the track opened. They were out-done by the Daily Gazette, which chucked their piece of race season litter in with their Sunday paper. Not to be outdone by their competitors, the TU has devoted a full Web site to all things Saratoga, complete with the usual Saratoga Seen and Talking Horses. They also include a host of videos that illicit a certain degree of pity for reporters Christen Gowen and Mark McGuire, who appear to be getting quite soaked in a short morning video. Despite the driving rain, McGuire manages a rather eloquent soliloquy about racing and the track that is worth a view.
Were the TU’s coverage to end here, life would be good. People could probably rest assured they had seen just about everything there was to see about opening day, horse racing, betting and the effects of rain thereof. But they had to take it one step further by goading a rather young looking female reporter into the meat-market of Gaffney’s to ask the Wednesday evening drunkards “what makes someone a bad kisser.”
“I don’t like the tongue,” commented one woman in the painful-to-watch video.
“I think I like a little bit of tongue,” interjected one of her friends.
Somewhere, there’s a sexual harassment lawyer smiling.
Of course, there were plenty of “man on the street” accounts from the race course. Yes, it’s wet. No, we don’t plan on leaving. Yes, we’re throwing cash at these damn horses in the hope of winning enough loot to put a down payment on one of the posh luxury boxes set up against the rail. All in all, these accounts more than forgettable.
And in other news, nothing happened. Or at least that’s the impression given by these media outlets, which don’t have enough cash to staff their newsrooms, but seem to have limitless resources when it comes to advertorials for the New York Racing Association. Undoubtedly, the anticipation among publishers and producers is that the supersaturating coverage will convince advertisers of the broad audience created when Saratoga’s population balloons to nearly 75,000 overnight. For the rest of us, it’s a long news-free ride until September.