Crowd gathers for annual Saratoga luncheon

Posted at: 07/19/2013 6:13 PM
Updated at: 07/19/2013 6:32 PM
By: Benita Zahn

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Before the first horse gathered at the starting gate, a swanky crowd was gathering at the Carousel Restaurant at the track. They were there for the annual luncheon hosted by Saratoga’s Grand Dame, Mary Lou Whitney Hendrickson. Even the heat couldn't wilt this party.

Follow the plumage adorning fancy hats atop well coifed heads you'll arrive at the annual track opening day luncheon hosted by Mary Lou Whitney Hendrickson.

It’s the place to see and be seen - attracting, not only the Saratoga social set and those who write and have written about them but NYRA's new president Chris Kay, and assorted business leaders. It’s also where select politicians - both in and out of office - come to schmooze.

Among them, Former Governor George Pataki who demurred when I asked if he was testing the waters for a return to politics. “I care deeply about what's happening in the state and country, so we'll see,” he said.

While Pataki was decked out in suit and tie others took a more relaxed approach. After all, looking sheik in this heat is no small feat - so businessman Bill Dake, despite noting short sleeves are not in vogue, wrote his own rules for the day. "There's about 10 degree difference in the short sleeves, so days like this new rules new times," said Dake.

The old rules still apply to the lady all lined up to spend a few moments with. Dressing elegantly, in the style her former husband, Sonny and exuding cool. “I love it. I’m a rare person,” says Hendrickson, who said she would take a camel in the Sahara desert to the races.

While she's north of 80 years she shows no sign of slowing- and her delight in the Saratoga meet hasn't waned a bit. Obvious when i asked her what she'd suggest a first time visitor to Saratoga should do, she said “I'd tell them, come with me!”