It's August, time for all good New York horse-racing reporters to decamp northward along the Hudson River to Saratoga. There, they'll enjoy racing in sylvan surroundings, feast on the fried chicken at Hattie's Chicken Shack, and pursue the time-honored sportswriting traditions of drinking and smoking--which is their idea of training for another hallowed Saratoga event, the 17th annual Socolof Gold Cup, set this year for Aug. 14.
Pete Socolof, whose job as a New York City art dealer leaves him lots of time to hang around the track, gets his kicks watching middle-aged bipeds struggle around the oval where Thoroughbreds more often make their way. Winners, usually track personnel in better shape than the writers, finish the mile and an eighth in six minutes and change, while also-rans stagger home about three minutes later. Has Socolof ever raced? Not a chance, he says. "I'm not fit to go 50 yards."