How do you squeeze 150 years of Saratoga history into a book, without re-telling many of the well known stories that made the track famous? As YNN's Matt Hunter explains, two local authors found that to be an extremely long but rewarding process.
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – At any local book store, you're bound to find a collection of volumes on Saratoga's rich history, which can make coming up with new and interesting material a bit tough for authors like Mike Kane and Alan Carter.
"Our goal was to write something different from what other people had been writing about," said Kane, who’s spent more than 30 years as a turf writer and previously worked as communications director for the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
"The basis of our book was anecdotes that had either been forgotten or never heard of," said Carter, the museum’s historian for the past nine years.
On and off for seven years, the duo spent many a late night researching and writing. In June, just in time for the track's historic anniversary, they finally released "150 Years of Racing in Saratoga: Little Known Stories and Facts from America's Most Historic Racing City."
"There's plenty of stories over the course of 150 years to tell, so we just took it upon ourselves to find them and tell them," said Kane, who joined Carter for a book signing at Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs Thursday evening.
With Saratoga's roots dating back to 1863 when record keeping wasn't what it is today, finding source material was often a struggle.
"Trying to assemble a chapter on firsts, who was the first track announcer, when did they start using starting gates, none of that stuff was available, we didn't know where to find it," Kane said.
"The old charts, you go back and find some nuggets you've never heard of before," Carter said.
Relying heavily on old newspaper archives and race charts, they ended up with 140 pages spread over 20 chapters. Inside you'll find less about famous feats like Jim Dandy's and Onion's shocking upsets and more about their often overlooked careers.
"That was the mission and we want people coming away saying 'Hey, I didn't know that," Kane said.
"For me, it was almost like I died and went to heaven,” Carter said. “You see such nuggets you couldn't believe and then you go back further and they all tie in. It's wonderful."
“150 Years of Racing at Saratoga” is available for purchase at many local bookstores and can be found at several online retailers, like www.northshire.com .