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American Pharoah is music to this band's ears

From left to right: Swing dancers Emily Vanston,

From left to right: Swing dancers Emily Vanston, 32, and Ben Rich, 38; Mary Lou Newnam, 52 (clarinet), Randy Reinhart, 62 (trumpet), Tom Shields, 75 (trombone), Peter Davis, 71 (tenor guitar), Brian Nalepka, 57 (bass) Photo Credit: Newsday / Laura Albanese

There's singing till you're hoarse. And then there's singing for a horse.

Peter Davis managed the latter during Saturday's festivities, but after five hours of belting out tunes in honor of the Belmont, no one would be surprised if he was risking the former.

Davis, who grew up in Babylon and lived there until he was 11, was there along with his swing/jazz band, and they attracted quite the crowd as he played tenor guitar and sang American Pharoah-themed ditties. The crew, made up of members from various other groups, is the official house band of Saratoga and has played five or six Belmonts, Davis said. They've played Saratoga for a quarter-century and were here last year for California Chrome's failed Triple Crown bid.

"Go, American Pharoah, go/Win, American Pharoah, win/You got-ta get the Triple Crown/Or e'rybody has a big frown," sang Davis, who now lives in Saratoga full time.

"Or whatever . . . something like that," he said, breaking out into a grin.

He was joined by Mary Lou Newnam on clarinet, Randy Reinhart on trumpet, Brian Nalepka on bass and Tom Shields on trombone. Newnam, Reinhart and Nalepka are from New Jersey, while Shields is from Troy. The band was accompanied by two swing dancers, Emily Vanston of Manhattan and Ben Rich of New Jersey, dressed in head-to-toe Belmont finery.

"Everyone is really positive and having fun and having a good time," Vanston said, "There's definitely great excitement. Everyone is walking around in Pharoah outfits and hats and T-shirts."

And though he's about 200 miles from home, the chance to sing at Belmont is something of a homecoming for Davis. He moved to Babylon when he was 1 he said, when his father, a dentist, became determined to move out of Brooklyn after World War II.

"He went to Long Island and he started calling up dentists and when he got to Babylon, he couldn't get an appointment," he said. "There were only two other dentists in Babylon at the time and he couldn't get an appointment for six months, so he said, we're moving there."


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