Marylou Whitney's and John Hendrickson's annual Saratoga party is themed "A Night in Egypt" this year ... Madonna jumps on a thoroughbred.

Every August at the height of the racing season in horsey to-die-for Saratoga, Marylou Whitney, toast of the town and the first lady of the elite racing world, and her husband, John Hendrickson, give a big blowout at the resort-famed Canfield Casino. The "It" party of parties, it's always a riotous celebration around a theme that changes every year because Marylou despises a rut. The surrounding gentry usually come costumed corresponding to the theme and prepared for groaning boards bearing everything from caviar to cotton candy — although not at the same time. Marylou and John's out-of-town friends look forward to these invitations, little works of art and imagination, as glamorous and decorative sometimes as the party itself. Oh my, Marylou!

So this year, the theme is "A Night in Egypt" in honor of the 78th running of The Whitney, one of Saratoga's great stakes races named for the Whitney family, which has bred and raced brilliant horseflesh since forever.

Don't worry about what to wear. The invitation reads "Black tie, please, no costumes," which may come as a huge disappointment to a number of would-be Cleopatras, who were planning to appear in full regalia down to the last scarab and asp.


Which brings to mind equine news from England, where Madonna has added horseback riding to her long list of newly acquired British country sports. She has put away her shotgun and jumped on her horse. She really had no trouble mounting a thoroughbred at a stable in London for her first lesson, but to prevent anyone from witnessing her rookie ride, she rented out the entire arena. No one except her instructor was allowed to watch, but after her first lesson, she had the confidence to borrow two horses from the stable to take home to her country house to practice. Giddy-up girl.


Calvin and Kelly Klein are sponsoring a $25,000 Show Jumping Derby at the 30th Annual Hampton Classic Horse Show on Sept. 4, where the Grand Prix lunch officially closes the summer season. Among those taking tickets and tables are Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his daughter, Georgina, an ace rider; Anne Hearst and her daughter, Amanda; Sybil and David Yurman, and James Mischka and Mark Badgley. For the 10th year, Robbins Wolfe will serve lunch to all the tables in the VIP tent featuring its signature show cookies in the shape of horses sporting blue frosted ribbons. Oh, well.
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