About Our Saratoga Gift Shops

Marianne, Maddy, and our staff spend many hours traveling to merchandise markets, researching new products and designs to bring an ever-changing collection of items to our store. Impressions of Saratoga is noted for good old fashioned, friendly customer service. We offer free gift wrapping, gift cards, Saratoga Porch Packages, a loyalty program, and so much more.

We love what we do and everyday we look forward to coming to the stores to see the customers and friends we have made over the years. On a daily basis you will find at least one of the “Impressions Pups” in the office working hard.

Staff at Impressions of Saratoga

Meet Marianne

Marianne has lived in Saratoga Springs for over 40 years. She moved here with her husband of 37 years Dave in 1980, after he founded what is now Impressions of Saratoga. They saw Saratoga Springs as the perfect location for their business and home. Marianne enjoys the business, the Impressions team and the customers and suppliers that it brings her in contact with. She also enjoys the horses, her springer spaniels – Cookie and Pupa, gardening, cooking and the outdoors. Life is good!

Meet Maddy

Maddy, born and raised in Saratoga Springs, is an avid Saratoga history and animal lover. She shopped at Impressions of Saratoga as a youngster and had always wanted to have her own business. She joined the Impressions Crew way back when and has been a dedicated member ever since. After graduating from SUNY Geneseo she partnered with Marianne. Maddy lives in downtown Saratoga Springs and enjoys walking her dogs and doing agility, taking care of the horses, and exploring our wonderful city with her family.

About the Dark Horse Brand and The Dark Horse Mercantile

The first documented use of the term The Dark Horse was in 1831 in a novel called The Young Duke by Benjamin Disraeli. He wrote; “The first favourite was never heard of, the second favourite was never seen after the distance post, all the ten-to-oners were in the rear, and a dark horse, which had never never thought of… rushed past the grandstand in sweeping triumph. The spectators were almost too surprised to cheer…” The term Dark Horse refers to an unknown and unexpected victor.

In horse racing the horse with the worst odds is The Dark Horse. In Saratoga Springs, the racecourse is known for favorites struggling and the Dark Horses prevailing. Saratoga Race Course earned the nickname “Graveyard of Champions” after the 1930 Travers Stakes when Gallant Fox, a Triple Crown winner, lost to Jim Dandy, a Dark Horse with odds of 100-1. Jim Dandy was not the first Dark Horse to make history in Saratoga Springs.

In 1919 Man o’ War was a force to be reckoned with. Standing at 16.2 hands and having a stride that spanned between 25-28 feet he seemed unstoppable. He came to Saratoga and dominated the field, until August 13th.  That day, during the most remembered Sanford Stakes in history, Man o’ War was defeated for the first and only time in his career. He was beaten by The Dark Horse in the race, appropriately named Upset! Owned by the Payne-Whitney Stable, he was not considered a threat to Big Red who was carrying 15 pounds more than the other horse in the field. A mistake was made when the starter let the horses go, with Man o’ War facing the wrong direction, giving the other horses an advantage. Upset scarcely beat Man o’ War, even with the great head start, but the race goes down in history as one of racing’s greatest upsets.

Throughout Saratoga Race Course’s History there have been other Dark Horse victories including the 1973 Whitney Stakes race when Onion beat the 1-10 favorite Secretariat who had just won the Triple Crown. Three Travers Races had horses with historically horrible odds pull an upset. Adonis in 1945 won with odds of 53-1, Crewman in 1963 with 20-1 odds, and Willow Hour in 1981 with odds of 50-1. Most recently American Pharoah lost to Keen Ice in the Travers Stakes after winning the Triple Crown in 2015. These races along with many others solidify Saratoga Race Course’s nickname “The Graveyard of Champions (or Favorites).”

In 2014, Impressions of Saratoga officially launched a brand called “The Dark Horse” to celebrate Saratoga’s reputation as the track where favorites are defeated by the longshot! 

The mercantile features a full range of high quality gifts, sportswear, memorabilia and items for the home branded with the Dark Horse logo. The service and attention to detail you have become accustomed to at Impressions of Saratoga for the past 40 years continues at this new location.

To go along with the story of Upset a new Dark Horse has been named in his memory. Our mascot, Upset, a miniature horse, stands only 33 inches tall and has never run in a race. He is proud to carry the name Upset and will help tell the story of The Dark Horse in Saratoga Springs to racing fans everywhere.

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