The Art Of The Travers Stakes: Artist Greg Montgomery Takes His Brush To Saratoga’s Most Important Race

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing artist Greg Montgomery and collaborating with him professionally for almost a decade, but his presence in my life dates back to the 1980s when I was a kid growing up in Saratoga County. Like many families, the Bouyea clan made annual appearances at Saratoga Race Course during the summertime, and our house’s decor featured several of Montgomery’s early entries in his now-famous Travers Stakes poster series, which has been going strong since 1986. 

Montgomery’s Travers series has become so popular and coveted that it isn’t unusual to see the inaugural year’s poster commanding as much as $25,000 on the secondary market—if one of these gems becomes publicly available (for some reason my parents still refuse to pass that family heirloom along to me). Montgomery never imagined he’d even be a part of Travers or Saratoga lore. In fact, he admits he knew little about Thoroughbred racing or its traditions in the Spa City when he produced that first poster back in ’86. “I was studying at The College of Saint Rose in Albany and needed an idea for a project when I came across a small poster that was promoting something called the Travers Stakes,” says Montgomery. “I asked what it was, and the guy in the store went on and on about its history and how big of a deal it was. I thought that if it was so important it needed something significant to symbolize its relevance. Here I am almost 35 years later still doing these posters!”

A portion of Montgomery’s series highlights some of the more memorable moments from Travers past, including Holy Bull’s thrilling 1994 victory, Birdstone’s dash through the dark
in 2004, the unforgettable dead heat between Alpha and Golden Ticket in 2012 and Arrogate’s record-setting romp in 2016. Others hat-tip the serene, scenic splendor found
only at Saratoga Race Course: the iconic roofline, the historic paddock, the distinct infield gazebo, the legendary Oklahoma Training Track and Union Avenue’s horse crossing. “There’s so much beauty that’s distinctly Saratoga and vital to what I do each year,” Montgomery says. “Otherwise, it’s just horses on a track, and that can happen anywhere. Saratoga is one of a kind, which is what I try to convey.” I can’t wait for the next edition. Can you?                   

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