Each year, Saratoga Springs, New York, is an exciting place to be during the weeks between late July and Labor Day when thousands of horse racing fans from all over the world visit the Saratoga Race Course, the oldest organized sporting venue of any kind in the country. This year, Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center (EMC) faculty, staff, advisory council members, clients, and guests continued an annual tradition of visiting the historic track to enjoy the thrill of cheering on their favorite equine athletes.
During the weekend of Aug. 4-5, guests of the EMC arrived in Saratoga Springs to join Gregory Daniel, interim dean of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, Michael Erskine, director of EMC, and Beverly “Peggy” Steinman, EMC Advisory Council Chair, to enjoy a couple of days at the races.
This year, on Aug. 6, the race annually sponsored by EMC had special meaning. It was run in memory of Virginia Tech President Emeritus Charles W. Steger Jr., an EMC family member who passed away in May.
Steger, who served as Virginia Tech’s 15th president from 2000 to 2014, was a long-time supporter of the EMC, a commissioner with the Virginia Racing Commission, and an avid horse enthusiast. Regarded as one of the university’s most influential presidents in its 146-year history, he was entirely committed to the institution where he received three degrees and spent nearly all of his more than 40-year professional career.
"Over the decades of friendship I shared with Charles, some of my fondest memories of him were made during the time we spent at Saratoga," said Miss Steinman. "He was an ardent supporter of the Equine Medical Center. It seemed fitting for us to honor his memory in this way."
Cheered on by an enthusiastic crowd, the five-and-a-half furlong race number five, held mid-card, was run at 3:14 pm. Abdullah Saeed Al Maddah, owner of number nine, five-year-old Sheikh of Sheikhs, won the race. The horse by Discreetly Mine out of Homesteader, was bred by Manuel Andrade, ridden by Jose L. Ortiz, and trained by Wesley Ward.
Following the day’s races, Miss Steinman hosted guests, including EMC Advisory Council members, clients, and Virginia Tech staff and alumni, for a cocktail party in her Saratoga Springs home. The party was also dedicated to the memory of Steger, who was a yearly attendee of the Saratoga Race Course and a close friend of Miss Steinman.
Representing many equine disciplines, guests that attended the cocktail party travelled to Saratoga Springs from all over the country. Many guests chose to move on to the Fasig-Tipton Sale of Selected Yearlings, just a short walk from the racetrack, held later that evening.
The crowd at Saratoga this season heard Sam Grossman’s bugle announcing the “Call to the Post” for the last time in his capacity as the New York Racing Association’s official bugler. Grossman retired on Sept. 3. On Aug. 6, the iconic bugler also played the Virginia Tech fight song before the race run in memory of Charles W. Steger.
-Published September 2018