The Capital Fund of Saratoga County, Inc., announced on Jan. 26, that the Saratoga Springs Horse Shows in Saratoga Springs, New York, was canceled for 2018, due to a lack of venue. The show is a three-week series that runs in May.
For 40 years, the Saratoga Springs shows had been run on the grounds of Yaddo, a 400-acre artist’s retreat located next to the Saratoga Race Course. The show used Saratoga Race Course for stabling and parking. But in 2017, the horse show announced they’d be pursuing a new venue after Yaddo elected to find another use for the property.
The show entered into a tentative agreement to host the show at the Saratoga Casino Hotel, but the hotel withdrew their offer in November.
“We thought we had a place, but that fell through so we’re scrambling,” said Tom Fueston, President and CEO of the Capital Fund of Saratoga County, Inc., which runs the charity horse show. “When you are doing horse shows, you have to have a certain amount infrastructure involved with it or you have to build it. It takes a while to build stuff and after all this rolled around, I ran out of time to find something I could build, so then we were looking for places that had the infrastructure without any success in our area.
“We had a couple of options available, but those were blocked from our use because of the mileage restriction, and [the U.S. Equestrian Federation wouldn’t waive that requirement, so we were kind of stuck,” he continued.
The Skidmore College Saratoga Classic, which is overseen by other management and benefits Skidmore College, runs two weeks of shows in June and one week in August. They also used the Yaddo and Saratoga Race Course grounds, but will be holding future shows at White Hollow Farm in Stillwater, New York. The White Hollow property was donated to the college in 2015 by Robert R. Rosenheim.
In a statement on the show’s Facebook page, Fueston said, “in early September we were notified by the USEF that Skidmore College had applied to run horse shows at their new facility on our dates. Their well-placed timing of this application effectively blocked our ability to obtain even a temporary venue for our show to take place within the 125-mile restriction. As the USEF rules state, any request for a waiver must be submitted 240 days before the start of a show in question, this took our ability to respond away from us.”
Fueston and show officials protested Skidmore’s date request and also pursued alternative locations for the 2018 show series. “We even applied for a USEF Presidential Modification to the 240-day restriction, but this was denied via a January 9th letter by USEF CEO Bill Moroney,” Fueston said.
“In his letter he gave us an additional 15 days to decide if we wanted to withdraw our application for our shows or ask that our shows be placed in an inactive status for 2018. During that two weeks, we tried every possible combination of things to secure a venue for our shows within a 200+ mile radius of Saratoga. They included reducing the number of weeks, reducing the show’s ratings to a B or C show, reducing the size of the show, and combinations of all of these. We have run out of options and time. Therefore, I have notified the USEF that we would like our shows to be placed on the inactive list for 2018,” Fueston wrote.
The Saratoga Springs Horse Show was started by the Saratoga Lions Club in 1961. It was later run by the St. Clement’s Church to fund their new building before the Capital Fund of Saratoga County, Inc., took it over in 2011. The show has supported close to 70 local charity groups.
The show has reserved its dates with USEF and plans to return in 2019 at a new venue.
“We’re searching for a piece of property now,” said Fueston. “We’ve given up on finding a venue that has the infrastructure, so we’re looking at find a location within our area here that we can develop.
“We broke a tradition of 57 years—that’s what hurts the most,” he continued. “Our plans are to come back in 2019 with the new facility and continue the process and grow. The last four years we’ve been growing, so this is really kind of a blow to us, as we’ve never been as profitable and as successful as we’ve been in the last couple of years. It’s kind of crazy to have to take a leave when we’re on the up-slide.”