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What Is ‘Saratoga’? The Spa City’s Countless Connections to ‘Jeopardy!’

Meet local contestants and learn about late host Alex Trebek's equine link to the area.

Alex Trebek, who passed away in November 2020 after a battle with pancreatic cancer, led Jeopardy! to 39 Emmy wins in his 37 years as its genial host. (Sony Pictures)

Picture yourself getting this Daily Double clue: “This small city in Upstate New York may not seem to be in any way associated with ‘America’s Favorite Quiz Show,’ but it’s been the subject of dozens of Jeopardy! clues, the home of several contestants and even has a connection to Alex Trebek, the beloved former host who passed away last November.” If you made it a “true Daily Double” and answered What is Saratoga Springs?, you’d be twice as rich and better yet, right.

Below, check out actual “answers” lobbed at contestants on the show:

The American Revolution

$200 

Two years before turning traitor, he rallied the Americans to victory at the Second Battle of Saratoga (1999)

$1000

After helping the Americans win the Battle of Saratoga, he went home to fight for Polish Independence (1999)

$2000

An America the Beautiful quarter depicts General Burgoyne surrendering his sword in this 1777 battle (2016)

And They’re Off!

$500

You’re off to the races in Upstate NY with this drink of ginger ale, sugar, bitters & lemon juice (1988)

$600

A superfecta at Saratoga involves correctly guessing this number of horses in order of finish (2013)

$800

A horse racing hall of fame is right across from this famous track in eastern New York (2002)

Mythology

$200

Some credit this bacon, turkey and lettuce creation to the Saratoga Club of New York State (1999)

$1000

I could eat a whole bag of this type of snack invented in Saratoga Springs in 1853 (2007)

$1000

Home of the Travers Stakes, this NY racetrack is North America’s oldest continuously operating track (2007)

Potpourri

$400

Once known for its casinos and springs, this city in eastern New York is now home to Skidmore College (1993)

$500

This large trunk with a curved lid is named for a city in New York (1995)

$2000

“Health, history, horses” is the motto of this city in Upstate New York (2000 & 2008)

Answers

The American Revolution Benedict Arnold; Thaddeus Kosciuszko; Saratoga
And They’re Off! A Saratoga; Four; Saratoga
Mythology Club sandwich; Potato chips; Saratoga
Potpourri Saratoga Springs; Saratoga (Springs); Saratoga Springs

Let’s Meet the Contestants

Three Jeopardy! contestants with Saratoga ties.

Ian Pickus, the news director for WAMC, is originally from Saratoga Springs, NY.
What did you talk about in your interview with Alex? “I used to be a hawker outside Saratoga Race Course, which I did from the time I was 14 until I was 23 after grad school. I sold sheets out there, and we ended up talking about that. He asked if I ever brought my money into the track after work was over and of course, I answered honestly, and the answer was ‘yes.’”
Episode air date: April 29, 2011
Finish: 3rd
For more from Ian Pickus, check out this blog post about his Jeopardy! experience.

Adam Perrotta is a Los Angeles–based writer originally from Saratoga Springs, NY.
What was your Final Jeopardy clue? “The son of an Oscar winner, this prince is also a 5-time Olympian.” (Answer: Who is Prince Albert?)
Episode air date: October 7, 2011
Finish: 3rd

Cindy Conaway is a professor of media studies at the State University of New York, Empire State College, in Saratoga Springs, NY.
What was Alex like in person? “He was just like you expected, if you spent a lot of time reading about the show. He came up behind me and he sang that ‘Cindy, Oh Cindy’ song that I hadn’t heard since I was 6 years old.”
Episode air date: January 13, 2012
Finish: 3rd

Show Horses

Alex Trebek’s horse racing connections.

When he wasn’t busy being one of America’s most iconic game show hosts, Alex Trebek dabbled in horse racing. It all started when he fell in love with and purchased a 700-plus-acre horse farm in Paso Robles, CA, in the 1990s. “Alex didn’t have a lot of horses,” says Trebek’s then-trainer Dan Hendricks, who has since retired to Malta. “He got into [horse racing] because of buying the farm. But he loved it when he was there and he liked the atmosphere.”

Though he only owned a handful of horses, Trebek’s Reba’s Gold, which competed in a number of graded stakes races and won the Grade 3 Seabiscuit Handicap at Bay Meadows in 2003, went on to garner more than $700,000 throughout his career. 

“What I found out about the guy is he’s a very nice person—amicable with anybody,” Hendricks says of his former client. “The funny thing was, when he got in a crowd, he became the host of Jeopardy!. Even when we did a press conference for the [Grade 1] Japan Cup Dirt race—it was a very stoic, typical Japanese event where they ask a question, you give an answer. Almost everyone’s answers were the same. But Alex got up there and for about half an hour, just had a great monologue. They were taken aback at first, but they knew him in Japan—he had so many fans over there. It was fun to see him really enjoying himself on that trip.”

Natalie Moore

Natalie Moore is the director of content at Saratoga Living and Capital Region Living.

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