This Week at Saratoga: Week 4

Dark day #3 dawned gorgeous and clear, a perfect Saratoga morning. Ramon Dominguez still sits atop the jockey leaderboard with 26 wins; Javier Castellano is behind him with 17. Making an impressive return following an injury, John Velazquez has already won 12 races, despite not riding full-time at the beginning of the meet.

Todd Pletcher leads the trainer standings with 16 wins, followed by Chad Brown with 13. Stonestreet Farms keeps rolling out impressive two-year-old fillies, most recently Dreaming of Julia, who won her début by 10 ½ lengths.

The first night of the yearling sale was not what you’d call a rousing success, but they’ll be back at it again tonight. Catch your breath, catch some rays, and get ready for week 4…

Tuesday, August 7: Day 2 of the Fasig-Tipton yearling sale. Pricey, well-bred yearlings will make their way through the ring as they have in Saratoga since 1917. Bring your checkbook and take home a gorgeous equine baby…or hang out in the back, have a drink, and watch the future of horse racing go by amid hundreds of socializing onlookers.  I highly recommend stopping by for at least a little while.

Tonight, visit historic Sanford Stud Farm for a fundraising evening of “Horse Tales and Cocktails.” Located a short drive from Saratoga Springs, the farm is raising money to try to preserve what’s left of its historic buildings, especially the Broodmare Barn. Your $40 donation ($30 if you’re a member of the Friends of Sanford Stud Farm) includes hors d’oeuvres, a cash wine/beer bar, silent auction, a tour, and stories about the farm. You can learn more about the farm here.

The evening runs from 6-8 pm. Call Tom at 518-866-1287 for tickets; for more information, call 518 848 3000.

Wednesday, August 8: The feature at Saratoga is the New York Stallion Series Cab Calloway Division for 3-year-olds on the turf; the series is open to horses sired by nominated stallions standing in New York. Last year, filly Hessonite beat the boys in this race; this year, Sportswriter is the morning line favorite.

Champion 2-year-old filly My Miss Aurelia makes her 2012 début in the Mandys Gold Stakes.

Thursday, August 9:  The fillies get their chance in the Stallion Series in the Statue of Liberty Division.

Each Thursday morning during the meet, a Saratoga jockey will join visitors on the porch from 8 to 9 a.m. to take photos and sign autographs.

Later in the morning, jockeys John Velazquez, Edgar Prado, Joel Rosario, and Ramon Dominguez will be at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame to sign color photographs for $10 each, with all proceeds benefitting the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

For a slightly higher ticket price, you can join Velazquez and the New York Yankees’ Mariano Rivera at the restaurant of which Rivera is a part-owner to raise money for his foundation, which supports children’s health, education, and wellness. The evening includes dinner, open bar, auction, entertainment and casual conversation with Rivera. Attendees will also receive a signed baseball and have their photograph taken with the 12-time All-Star and five-time World Series champion.

Tickets are $500 per person and be purchased by calling 516 355 4514.

A more modest Thursday evening event will benefit Old Friends Thoroughbred retirement farm.

Celebrate the debut of Old Friends Scene magazine, produced by the editors and writers of Daily Racing Form and celebrating the retirees at Old Friends in Kentucky and New York.  Barbara Livingston, Glenye Cain Oakford, and Jay Hovdey contributed to the magazine, which contains race histories, photographs, and lifetime past performances.

Copies of the magazine will be available for $10, with all proceeds benefitting Old Friends. Livingston is expected to attend, as are Old Friends founder and president Michael Blowen and DRF publisher Steve Crist.

Copies can also be obtained from Old Friends by calling (502) 867-1775.

The event will take place from 6:30 – 8:30 pm at the Washington Inn at 111 South Broadway.

Downtown, Andy Serling will host his weekly live broadcast for ESPN Radio 104.5 from Hattie’s restaurant on Phila St from 9 – 10 pm.

Friday, August 10:  John Velazquez, Roger Attfield, Robert Wheeler and Ghostzapper will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. The ceremony begins at 10:30 and is free and open to the public.

At the track, the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame is the feature.

From 2:30 to 3:30, Hall of Famers will sign autographs next to the silks room at the track. Expected to be present are Chris McCarron, Janet Elliot, Carl Nafzger, Randy Romero, Ron Turcotte, Eddie Maple, Roger Attfield and Jose Santos among others.

Yankees’ reliever Mariano Rivera spends a day at the races and will appear in the winner’s circle for the third race, named “The Spa Welcomes Mo!”

Family Fun Fridays continue in the backyard playground from noon to 4 p.m. Families will find a bouncy inflatable and the Tiny Tots Tea Room arts and crafts table, along with this week’s featured activity, the Let’s Make Bubbles interactive exhibit from the Scotia-Glenville Traveling Children’s Museum, which includes a variety of bubble-makers and everything it takes to fill the air with shimmering spheres of all imaginable sizes.

All Family Fun Fridays include adult grandstand admission, a Post Parade program, a hot dog and Coca-Cola for $5 with a voucher found on Coca-Cola displays at participating retailers. The voucher can be redeemed at the Reserved Seats Office on Union Avenue on any Friday during the season.

Saturday, August 11:  Hall of Fame jockey Ron Turcotte, who rode Secretariat to the 1973 Triple Crown, will sign autographs in front of the jockey silks room from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Proceeds will benefit The Secretariat Foundation, which provides grant funding to thoroughbred retirement programs, and the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.

The feature race is the Grade 2 Fourstardave, named for the horse that won a race at Saratoga each year from 1987 to 1994.

Yearling sales continue at Fasig-Tipton, with New York-breds on offer tonight and tomorrow night. Venture over to see yearlings from your favorite horses, hang out at the walking ring, and socialize.

Sunday, August 12:  The second giveaway of the summer is a Saratoga picnic mat, free with paid admission while supplies last.

Two-year-olds take the stage in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special and Grade 2 Adirondack. Last year’s Special winner, Union Rags, went on to win the Belmont; My Miss Aurelia won the Adirondack and was named 2-year-old filly champ.

Ron Turcotte is back at the track to sign autographs (see above).

Monday, August 13:  The feature race is the Coronation Cup, run for the first time this year.

Jockeys Javier Castellano, Rosie Napravnik, and Jose Lezcano will be at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame to sign color photographs for $10 each, with all proceeds benefitting the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. The event runs from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Starting today and going through Monday, August 13, submit your original photos taken at Saratoga to compete for one of several prizes; you can submit at the Times Union website. The photographer of the winning photo will receive two tickets for lunch in the Carousel Restaurant at the track.

Alan Garcia & Rajiv Maragh

Jockey karaoke returns to the Spa! Join the Saratoga jockey colony at Vapors at Saratoga Raceway to raise money for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. Last year’s event (click to read my post about it) was one of the most fun nights of the summer, and it’s on my “must-do” for Saratoga events.

The evening goes from 5:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.; your $100 ticket will include passed hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar, a silent auction, dancing…and the chance to see your favorite jockeys either make utter fools of themselves or rock the house with unsuspected talent.

Among the jockeys scheduled to compete are: Junior Alvarado, Javier Castellano, David Cohen, Ramon Dominguez, Alan Garcia, Julien Leparoux, Mike Luzzi, Rajiv Maragh, Rosie Napravnik, Edgar Prado, Joel Rosario, Maylan Studart, and John Velazquez.

Mike Luzzi, Kent Desormeaux, David Cohen

 Looking ahead…

Thursday, August 16th:  Come to the Crush & Cask on South Broadway for a wine and artisan pizza pairing party. Optional donations will benefit H.O.P.E (Homes For Orphaned Pets Exist), an organization that offers low-cost spaying and neutering to pet owners in need.

Monday, August 20th:  The jockeys will reprise their 2011 cook-off at the Stadium on Broadway.  Your $65 to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund includes samples from the meals the jockeys and area chefs cook, entertainment, and a silent auction. The event starts at 7 pm.

Wednesday, August 22:  Join the Belmont Child Care Association (on whose board I serve) for its annual fundraiser to support Anna House and the children of the backstretch. More details to follow.


Every day through the meet (except for Travers day), up to six racing fans can join Tom Durkin in the announcer’s booth for the third race. Donations of $100 per person go to Backstretch Employees Service Team.  For reservations, call 518-587-3720.

Want to go to the Travers in style?  Northeastern Fine Jewelry and Keeler Motor Car Company will offer racing fans the chance to win a 2012 Travers Stakes Crown Jewel Experience, which will include clubhouse box seating and luncheon for two on Travers Day, August 25; two-night accommodations at The Saratoga Hilton on August 24 and 25; a prepaid two-year lease of a Mercedes C250 coupe from Keeler Motor Car Company; an 18 karat pendant from the Simon G Embrace collection with a retail value of $2,200 from Northeastern Fine Jewelry; and a $100 gift card to Saratoga Springs restaurant Maestro’s at the Van Dam.

Individuals can enter to win by liking the Northeastern Fine Jewelry and Keeler Motor Car Company Facebook pages. Participants can then register for the contest on either of the Facebook pages through August 20. The winner will be notified in the days leading up to the Travers Stakes. No purchase is necessary; must be 18 years or older to enter.

Get your Travers picnic table early! Ten percent of the picnic tables located in the backyard of Saratoga Race Course will be set aside for reserved seating on Travers Day, Saturday, August 25.

Beginning on Friday, August 3, patrons can register for the right to purchase a reserved picnic table on Travers Day.  Fifty registrants will be randomly selected from all eligible entries for the option to purchase one of the designated picnic tables. The tables will be located in a reserved section in the backyard adjacent to the Paddock and Big Red Spring.

If selected, registrants will be able to reserve a picnic table for $100 each. Tables are limited to a maximum of six people, and all proceeds will benefit NYRA backstretch charities. Click here for more info.

One thought on “This Week at Saratoga: Week 4

  1. Boy oh boy, lots of fun stuff going on again! It’s nice to see Ron Turcotte there, he’s a nice man, loves to chat and was very gracious to this tongue tied fan 🙂

    I think Rosie Napravnik will be the surprise hit of the karaoke scene…

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