Woody’s Horse Hunch: Getting Excited About Opening Day At Saratoga Race Course

Woody also goes on a tour of the H. James Bond Racing stables, courtesy of trainer Eric Guillot.

Saratoga Race Course
Saratoga Race Course's Opening Day is on July 20. (UpstateNYer)

Well, It’s pretty much summertime here at Woody’s Barbershop, and that means the Fourth of July, vacations, insanity for the business and best of all, horse racing season. I have been waking up at 4:30am or so and living the dream most days, and to me, that means that I’ve been spending my mornings at the Oklahoma training track, watching the horses, talking with trainers and observing everything I can take in. It’s an interesting and amazingly fun way to start the day. I always go to my good friend Eric Guillot’s barn and ride around with him, and gather all the information about horses I can, and I assure you, watching and learning from him is pretty amazing. He observes what others might miss, because as a private trainer, with a small number of horses, he likes to watch not only his own horses, but every other trainers’ as well. Knowing the competition can have its advantages!

Each morning is better than the last, and it’s crazy and fascinating to me how friendly and happy everyone is all the time, although with the infamous Saratoga Race Course season rapidly approaching us, how could anyone not be completely overjoyed as we count down the remaining days, minutes and seconds? I regularly see, meet, talk and listen to all the famous trainers, as well as the not-so-famous ones, and I assure you, they’re all regular, hard working folks, just like you and me, almost everyone one of them is friendly and kind. Watching these experts at there craft really makes me enjoy horse racing more, and then to make things even better, H. James Bond, longtime trainer and founder of H. James Bond Racing Stables (007) and Song Hill Thoroughbreds, and his wife Tina, were kind enough to take me on a complete tour of the their amazing 100-plus acre Thoroughbred farm. Mr. Bond (Jimmy to most everyone), walked me through a countless number of barns and stalls and shared his whole amazing farm with me, and I gotta tell you, if I were to ever have anything to do with horses around here, his farm is where I’d want them to be! Heated and air-conditioned stalls, fenced fields filled with level green grass and sandy grazing areas and barns so clean you could eat off of the floors…OK, OK, so maybe only horses can and want to do that, but you get where I’m going. Even more cool is that as clean as his farm is, he had no idea Eric and I were stopping over to visit, so I’m sure it’s kept like that on a daily basis.

Enough rambling, though. Don’t forget the big day: July 20, Opening Day at Saratoga Race Course. Look out for saratoga living’s “The Races!” issue then, as well as an article by yours truly. I’m so excited! Can I get a “yee-haw”?

Until next time,


Joe "Woody" Wood

Joe "Woody" Wood is the Owner/Master Barber at Woody's Barbershop in Saratoga Springs, NY. Before that, he worked as a restaurant manager and private bartender in Las Vegas. Woody's an avid horse racing fan and enjoys live music.


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