Two weeks from today…I head back to Brooklyn for opening of school meetings. How can the meet have progressed this far already?
At the end of week three, Ramon Dominguez has ridden 39 winners, nearly double that of the man in second place, Jose Lezcano with 21. Among trainers, Todd Pletcher has 20 victories; Chad Brown’s in second with 14.
Stonestreet Stables’ horses have made six starts at this meet, and all have won. Five of those wins came with fillies.
It was an excellent week on the feline wagering front, with Kitty Panda, Jump for Kitten, Neatie the Cat, and Kitten’s Dumplings all hitting the winner’s circle; Cat Feathers showed feline jumping agility in a steeplechase race in which she went off at odds of 23-1, which is a heck of a payoff for a hunch bet. Keep those Kittens coming…
And take advantage of the time we’ve got left at the Spa—plenty to keep you busy, both on and off the track…
Tuesday, August 14
No rest for the wicked, even on a dark day, so get over to the Saratoga History Museum in the Canfield Casino in Congress Park for “All The Law In The World Won’t Stop Them: The Rise and Fall of Richard Canfield at Saratoga.” Says the Museum’s website:
Saratoga Springs in the 1890’s was a place where gambling reigned supreme. It was a wide open town where authorities were either unable or unwilling to put a stop to the flagrant violation of the state’s anti-gambling laws. No one took advantage of conditions at the Spa better than Richard Canfield, “Prince of the Gamblers.” But, despite raking in millions of dollars in profit, Canfield’s reign at Saratoga would come to a sudden end. Was it an unforeseen reform movement, competition, a police raid? Or, was it, as some believe, the haunting curse of a dead rival that ultimately closed the doors of the famous Saratoga Club to gambling forever?
Assistant Chief Greg Veitch of the Saratoga Springs Police Department will take a look at one of the Spa City’s most famous residents, the man who gave his name to the casino in the park. The program begins at 7 pm and is free and open to the public.
Wednesday, August 15
Racing resumes with the Troy Stakes.
Starting today and going through Monday, August 20, 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 to the Travers Celebration on August 23.
The indefatigable Saratoga jockeys are at it again, shaking cocktails at the Veranda Bar at Prime at Saratoga National from 6:30 to 9:30 pm to raise money for charity; all proceeds and gratuities from $5 Coors Light bottles, $6 Belvedere cocktails and $10 Belvedere martinis will benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund and the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.
Comedians will also be on hand to entertain, beginning at 9 pm. Comedy tickets are $40 per person with partial proceeds to benefit the charities.
Thursday, August 16
Each Thursday between 8 and 9 a.m., a Saratoga jockey will appear at breakfast on the porch at Saratoga Race Course to greet fans, take photos and sign autographs.
At the National Racing Museum and Hall of Fame, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Kent Desormeaux, Julien Leparoux, and Mike Luzzi will sign color photographs for $10 each to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.
The feature race is the West Point for New York-breds, which Compliance Officer will try to win for the second consecutive year.
From 5 to 7 p.m., come to the Crush & Cask at 170 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.
From 9 to 10 p.m., join NYRA race analyst Andy Serling as he hosts his live weekly broadcast on ESPN Radio 104.5 from Hattie’s Restaurant on Phila Street. This week’s guests are trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and owner Michael Dubb, NYRA’s leading owner in 2010 and chairman of the Belmont Child Care Association board of directors.
Friday, August 17
Start your day with a book signing at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame with Jean Chodkowski, author of The Anatomy of Horse Racing Handicapping, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
It’s “Fabulous Fillies” day at the races. All fans who wear pink will receive free admission to Saratoga Race Course, and the Sizzling Hot Pink Saratoga Hat Luncheon will take place at 11:30 a.m. in the At the Rail Pavilion. This year’s luncheon is in memory of Breast Cancer Research Foundation founder and chairman Evelyn H. Lauder and will feature guest speaker J. Dirk Iglehart, MD, Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, leading the discussion: Breast Cancer: How We Are Winning the Race.
The luncheon will also honor thoroughbred owner and breeder Virginia Kraft Payson.
The event will be emceed by Jeannine Edwards from ESPN, and a live and silent auction will raise money for breast cancer research. Tickets are $150 each; for more information, click here or contact NYRA director of community relations Joanne K. Adams at 518-584-6200 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first 1,000 women (ages 16 and older) through the admission gates will receive a cubic zirconia that they can bring to one of two representatives from Northeastern Fine Jewelry on track to determine if she is a recipient of a genuine diamond that will qualify her to choose from one of three diamond pendants.
Track patrons will also have the opportunity to commemorate the day with a special professional photograph against the backdrop of one of several iconic Saratoga scenes. The photo booth will be located near the Clubhouse/Grandstand exchange, and the 5×7 photographs will be available with a $10 donation to BCRF.
French Mountain Commons & Log Jam Outlet Center will randomly distribute 1,000 pink drawstring bags featuring the Fabulous Fillies Day logo and containing coupons to the outlet center in Lake George to fans throughout the day.
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 Mad Science interactive exhibit, with putty, slime, dry ice, and other hands-on activities.
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 18
The oldest stakes race in the country for fillies will be run for the 132nd time. Entrants for this year’s Grade I Alabama are expected to include Grace Hall, In Lingerie, Believe You Can, and Questing.
The Grade 1 Sword Dancer is the co-feature.
Sunday, August 19
Join Georgia Horner on an exploration of the Saratoga Race Course area, featuring the Reading Room, National Museum of Racing, Oklahoma Track, and Fasig-Tipton Humphrey S. Finney sales pavilion. The walk will depart at 10:30 a.m. from the southeast corner of Nelson and Union Avenues. For more information, visit the website of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation.
The feature at the track is the Grade II Lake Placid.
The third giveaway of the meet is the Saratoga pint glass; track visitors can pick one up with paid admission while supplies last.
Travers 1864 Restaurant Week: Approximately 50 restaurants and eateries throughout the greater Capital Region will offer special pricing and menus in celebration of Saratoga’s premier race. A three-course meal at participating restaurants will cost $18.64, the year of the inaugural running of the Travers. Click here for a complete list of participating restaurants.
Monday, August 20
New York-bred fillies and mares take to the turf in the Union Avenue.
At night, the jockeys will offer a “Taste of Saratoga” and reprise their 2011 cook-off at the Stadium Café on Broadway. Your $65 donation to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund includes samples from the meals prepared by the jockeys and area chefs; entertainment; and a silent auction. The event starts at 7 p.m. and will feature guest jockey bartenders. You can purchase tickets at either Stadium location, 389 Broadway or 112 Congress Street.
If you’re in the mood for Italian food, head to Chianti Il Ristorante to benefit the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation through the restaurant’s Twelve program. Present this coupon and 30% of your bill will go to the Foundation, at no extra cost to diners. Click here for more information.
Tuesday, August 21
Celebrate the 20th anniversary of Thunder Rumble’s Travers win with Old Friends at Cabin Creek, home of Thunder Rumble.
The party will run from noon to 2 p.m. at the Greenfield Center farm in honor of the 23-year-old retiree who won the Travers in 1992. The farm is open for tours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
In attendance will be Richie Migliore, one of Thunder Rumble’s jockeys, along with representatives from local businesses, caricature artist Phil Singer, and photographer Connie Bush.
And I hope that you’ll check out the Travers Stakes program this year, for which I’m writing a feature on Thunder Rumble, only the second New York-bred to win the Travers Stakes.
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. This year’s honoree is Stonestreet Stables’ Barbara Banke; read more about the event here.
Thursday, August 23: The official party of the Travers Stakes takes place from 7:30 to 11 p.m. at Saratoga Race Course. Tickets are $175 and benefit Backstretch Employees Service Team (B.E.S.T.) and the Times Union Hope Fund. Click here for more information.
Wednesday, August 29: Join trainers Chad Brown and Dominic Galluscio for a New Owners Luncheon that will provide an introduction and overview of thoroughbred ownership. The luncheon will be hosted by former champion jockey Richard Migliore and co-hosted by NYRA Raceday’s Ernie Munick.
The event will begin at 7:30 a.m.; click here for more details.
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.