Waggley was the Major's final hope to win one more, the only horse he had in training last August. Long gone were the days when he trained 40 horses out of two barns at the Spa. Now he was up at 6 a.m., trudging to the track to care for one—he and his wife, Mary, bred and owned the filly, so she was family—but soon there would be none.
"This is my last year training at Saratoga," he said. "It's my last year training, period. I'll sell her in the fall. This is it for me. I'm not as frisky as I used to be. I've been coming up here for almost 80 years. Hey, 60 years I was trainin' those animals! Awful long time. Long enough."
Waggley stepped into the starting gate. Mary and the Major turned to the track. As the gates burst open, Waggley bobbled, her head dipping down. "She stumbled coming out!" cried Mary. The filly regained her footing, and Samyn set sail for the lead down the backside. Lying third, she raced to the throat of Rally For Justice, shot past her, and quickly ran down Wan'a Fella on the far turn. Major shook his head. "I wish he'd save her a little bit," he said.
Waggley turned for home in front by two, after running a half in :45[1/5]. Key Bid took out after her, slowly cutting into Waggley's lead. Inside the 16th pole, Key Bid caught her and drove on past to win by a neck. The race was just a tad too far for Waggley.
Odom grimaced. "Sonofabitch!" he growled. "If she hadn't stumbled, she'd have won."
Mary's voice sang out above the din: "They'll never beat her at six furlongs!"
"Next time," the Major said. "We'll run her one more time up here. She'll be ready."
Trainers have been saying that at Saratoga for years, of course, since that day four weeks after the Battle of Gettysburg, in 1863, when a one-eyed black jockey named Sewell—his given name was not recorded—rode Lizzie W. to victory in that first race here. Sewell and the filly soon disappeared, but Saratoga Springs has never been the same. By that time, the town was already known as America's Queen of the Spas, a resort town, a watering hole and a gambling hell that was beginning to attract the rich from New York City.
All of this happened, not incidentally, as the result of a series of geological changes that occurred some 300 million years ago, when a thin crust of shale still lay intact just under the land that is now Saratoga Springs. Beneath that crust was a deposit of limestone. Over millions of years, rainwater percolated through the shale, growing acidic as it picked up iron sulfate and other minerals from the rock. When the acidic water reached the limestone and mixed with it, the water, in chemical reaction, became naturally carbonated. For untold years the shale crust acted as a kind of giant cap covering the bubbling water.
Kenneth Johnson, the chairman of the geology department at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, says that no one is certain precisely when or why—perhaps it was the same stresses that forced the emergence of the Adirondack Mountains—but at some point that layer of shale ruptured, forming a fault line. The carbonated waters began oozing up through the crack in the shale, hissing through punctures all along the fault line, and it was thus that a series of natural events led to the birth of the springs.