It’s here: the week so many of us wait for beginning in September, the end of the countdown that begins with the last race on Labor Day.
And as in previous years, I’ll post weekly updates about various events—racing, philanthropic, historical—taking place in Saratoga Springs, right through to closing day.
Opening day is officially this Friday, but the unofficial kick-off to track season is the National Museum of Racing’s annual meet preview, and it’s there that we’ll start.
Good luck at the windows, have fun, and don’t break from the gate too quickly…we’ve got seven weeks of racing, socializing, and working ahead of us!
Wednesday, July 16
Meet preview at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Have questions about this year’s meet? Come to the Museum and get them answered by this year’s panelists: Hall of Famer Jonathan Sheppard, Eclipse winner and NYRA/HRTV race analyst Richard Migliore, West Point Thoroughbreds’ founder/president Terry Finley, and NYRA’s CEO/president Chris Kay and vice president of racing operations Martin Panza.
The event begins at 7 pm in the Hall of Fame and is open to the public and free of charge. Drawings will be held for giveaways from the Museum gift shop. More information, including detailed information on each of the panelists, is here.
Thursday, July 19
At The Post Live returns to The Parting Glass. Hosted by NYRA handicapper and race analyst Andy Serling, the show is broadcast locally from 8 – 9 pm on ESPN radio 104.5FM; outside the Capital District, you can stream the show as well. This week’s guests include trainer Dale Romans; NYRA senior vice president of racing operations Martin Panza; and apprentice jockey Taylor Rice.
Friday July 18
Opening day! Last year we celebrated 150 years of racing in Saratoga; this year we can celebrate 150 years at the current location. Arrive early so that you can hear Tom Durkin lead the crowd in calling “They’re off!” for the last time in his career.
Stakes races: The 96th running of the Grade III Schuylerville for two-year-old fillies and the Sir Cat for three-year-olds on the turf.
Taste NY Craft Beer and Cider tasting (every Friday through the meet). Taste beverages produced by as many as a dozen New York State breweries. Tastings will be held from noon to 4 pm in the Saratoga Pavilion, located inside the entrance to the Reserved Seats Box Office on Union Avenue. Admission is $20 and includes 20 sampling tickets.
Hats Off to Saratoga (through Sunday, July 20). The city of Saratoga Springs and NYRA celebrate opening weekend; head downtown for live music, shopping, dining, and strolling, as Saratoga visitors have done for more than a century.
Saturday, July 19
Stakes races: The $500,000 Grade I Diana for fillies and mares on the turf and the 100th running of the Grade III Sanford for two-year-olds on the dirt. This race recalls historic Sanford Stud Farm in nearby Amsterdam, New York.
The Friends of Sanford Stud Farm, dedicated to preserving the farm’s legacy, will hold its annual luncheon at the track. Sanford descendants will attend, and artist Dan Czech will sign copies of the Centennial Post.
Lord & Taylor Fashion Saturdays (every Saturday through the meet). A Lord & Taylor pop-up shop in the Saratoga Pavilion will be open from 10:30 am to 6 pm. Two people each week will be named Most Fashionable at Saratoga and win a $250 Lord & Taylor gift card and the chance to present a trophy in the winner’s circle during the meet.
The Fifth Annual Kickoff Cocktail Party to benefit Old Friends at Cabin Creek. Join jockey Rosie Napravnik and support retired Thoroughbreds at the Saratoga Gold and Polo Club at 301 Church St. The party will feature a buffet dinner, a DJ and dancing, a live auction with one-of-a-kind items and surprise guests. Tickets are $100 each and can be purchased online, by calling JoAnn Pepper at 518-698-2377, or at the farm on Saturday tour days.
Sunday, July 20
Summer Stroll: Saratoga’s Historic West Side. 10:30 a.m. The Saratoga Springs Preservation Society hosts this walk through “Little Dublin,” featuring the history of Saratoga’s Irish and Italian immigrants. Tickets are $5 for SSPF members and $8 for non-members and can be purchased at the beginning of the walk or online. Walks take place rain or shine and last approximately 90 minutes.
Saratoga baseball cap giveaway at the track, free with paid admission while supplies last.
Stakes races: The 97th running of the Grade I Coaching Club American Oaks for three-year-old fillies on the dirt and the Lucky Coin for four-year-olds and up on the turf.
Taste NY Food and Artisans (every Sunday through the meet). Up to 19 food and artisan vendors set up shop in the Saratoga Pavilion from 10:30 am to 5 pm, featuring products made exclusively by New York vendors.
Monday, July 21
Stakes races: The Shine Again for fillies and mare on the dirt.
Berkshire Bank Family Mondays (every Monday through the meet). Family-friendly activities at the track, including games and educational activities from noon to 4 pm in the Saratoga Pavilion.
The Track at Saratoga: America’s Grandest Race Course. The Saratoga Springs Public Library will present the WMHT documentary made to commemorate 150 years of racing in Saratoga. The one-hour film will begin at 7 pm and be followed by a panel that will include film-maker Patricia Lane, the Saratoga Springs Preservation Society’s Samantha Bosshart, National Museum of Racing historian Allan Carter, and yours truly.
Hay, Oats and Spaghetti to benefit the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. Support retired Thoroughbreds while enjoying a casual dinner buffet and cocktails from 6-9 pm at Mama Mia’s Restaurant and Café in Saratoga Spring. Tickets are $75 in advance or $85 at the door. Purchase tickets online or by calling 518 226 0038 or e-mailing email@example.com.
Win a chance to propose to your beloved in the winner’s circle (through August 3). The engagement package will include a free engagement ring, an engagement party at the track, and a race named in the couple’s honor. You can enter the contest by liking Northeastern Fine Jewelry’s Facebook page and clicking the “sweepstakes” tab for further information.
Buy a season pass to lower the cost of admission: $30 for grandstand admission and $50 for the clubhouse. Passes are available at Stewart’s Shops or through NYRA.