This Week at Saratoga, 2016: Week of July 18

It’s approximately 150 degrees Fahrenheit in Brooklyn, and though my ETA in Saratoga is later this afternoon (that might be a little optimistic at this point), the relative cool of the Adirondacks seems as far away and unlikely as a team-building retreat between the national HBPA and The Jockey Club.

But post time on opening day at Saratoga—a place where we can try to put internecine politics aside, at least for the first week—is just a bit over 96 hours away, and the summer meeting’s kick-off events even less than that.

The 147th Thoroughbred racing meet will bring us the comfortably familiar—races full of flashy 2-year-olds, more than a dozen Grade I races, the biggest names, human and equine, flocking to the Spa—and, we can hope, a few surprises along the way.

What is no surprise is the number of events and activities that will tempt you from now until Labor Day. We kick off our annual list of events with Week 1; within a day or two, a list of events through to Labor Day will be posted, with new events added as they are announced.

Events at the track itself are listed first each day, followed by those happening elsewhere in and around Saratoga. Events that are ongoing or recurring (like tours of the Oklahoma training facility) are listed at the end of the post.

Our preference here is for events related to horse racing, the history of Saratoga, or local non-profit endeavors. Have an event you’d like publicized? E-mail me if it fits into one of those categories.

In 1888, one Mr. Evander Berry Wall won a bet in Saratoga—but not by wagering on the horses. “Famous for his clothes” ran the sub-hed on his 1940 New York Times obituary, and on one summer day 128 years ago, Mr. Wall changed his clothes 40 times, to the chagrin of John “Bet-A-Million” Gates, who had to pay up.

“And now you know—now you can see how it was, in this strangest of all American towns, this most bizarre of watering holes, this caterwauling, restless, final frontier of that ridiculous and wonderful thing that was called society in these, our United States,” wrote Mel Heimer of the incident in his 1955 Fabulous Bawd: The Story of Saratoga. “Mr. Wall has given us the motif. Tip your hat reverently to Mr. Wall and come now back into this most remarkable of places in the most remarkable of all times.

“For this, of course, was the town called Saratoga.”

Welcome back…

WEEK OF JULY 18

Wednesday, July 20

“Saratoga’s Grand Hotels,” a 45-minute morning walk through neighborhoods near the Saratoga Springs Public Library with Local History Librarian Teri Blasko. Meet in the Library’s Glasby Room at 10 am. Register here or by calling reference librarian Chris Alexander at (518) 584-7860, ext. 248. Wear comfortable shoes and bring a water bottle.

Annual preview of the racing meet at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. This year’s panel features retired jockey and 2016 Hall of Fame inductee Ramon Dominguez; trainer Graham Motion; owner Jack Wolf; and writer Tom Law. 7:30 – 8pm, free.

Thursday, July 21

“Railroad and Trolleys in Saratoga Springs,” a talk at the Saratoga History Museum by Gino DiCarlo, will focus on the transportation history of the town. Books will be available for purchase and for signing by the author. 7 pm at the Canfield Casino in Congress Park.

Andy Serling’s At The Post Live returns to the Parting Glass in downtown Saratoga for an hour of live radio featuring a variety of guests from the racing world. The show airs 8 – 9pm weekly and is produced before a live audience at one of Saratoga’s best-loved watering holds. Can’t make it to Saratoga? You can listen at ESPN Radio 104.5 or online.  Video segments will also be posted and shown on NYRA.com, the NYRA Network, and NYRA’s Youtube channel.  Guests will be posted here as they become available. This week’s guests: owner Sol Kumin (Lady Eli and Exaggerator); trainer Christophe Clement; jockey Julien Leparoux; and racing analyst Gabby Gaudet. The weekly broadcasts are free and open to the public. (Weekly)

Friday, July 22

At the track

Opening Day! Post time is 1 pm, and with paid admission, customers will receive a scratch-off ticket offering a variety of prizes, including $100 betting vouchers, NYRA merchandise, and vouchers for concessions, program books, general admission and parking.

Stakes races:

Grade II, $200,000 Lake George, for three-year-old fillies on the turf (1 1/6 miles)
Grade III, $150,000 Schuylerville for two-year-old fillies on the dirt (6 furlongs)

Taste NY: Craft Beer, in the Saratoga Pavilion on the backyard side of the grandstand, towards the top of the stretch. At this weekly event, customers can sample five New York craft beers for $5. Noon – 5pm.

In NYRA’s community outreach booth, located near the jockeys’ silks room: Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

Party at the Post, the bar near the paddock and Shake Shack, with a DJ and dancing after the races.

Elsewhere

Downtown, the annual Hats Off to Saratoga Festival kicks off the 2016 racing season. From 7 – 11 pm, stroll Broadway and take in music and entertainment up and down Saratoga’s main street. Many shops will remain open late. (This continues Saturday night.)

Saturday, July 23

At the track…

Stakes races:

Grade III, $150,000 Sanford for two-year-olds on the dirt (6 furlongs)
Grade I, $500,000 Diana for fillies and mare, three years old and up, on the turf (1 1/8 miles)

Low Roller Handicapping Challenge. Take your shot with a $40 buy-in ($30 goes to your own live bankroll, $10 to the prize pool). Registration begins at 10:30 am in the NYRA Bets Lounge (see below).

NYRA Bets Lounge: Visitors to the track can visit this new addition, located in the Saratoga Pavilion on the backyard side of the grandstand, towards the stop of the stretch, for handicapping tips and betting advice from the new “Bets Squad.” The Lounge will also feature a champagne bar and clothing boutique by Lifestyles, the popular women’s clothing store in downtown Saratoga. (Weekly)

In NYRA’s community outreach booth, located near the jockeys’ silks room: SADS Foundation

Party at the Post, the bar near the paddock and Shake Shack, with a DJ after the races.

Elsewhere

Book signing: author Brien Bouyea will sign copies of his book Bare Knuckles & Saratoga Racing: The Remarkable Life of John Morrissey at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, at which Bouyea works as the communications officer. 9 am to noon in the Museum lobby; books will be available for purchase.

Downtown, the annual Hats Off to Saratoga Festival kicks off the 2016 racing season. From 7-11pm, stroll Broadway and take in music and entertainment up and down Saratoga’s main street. Many shops will remain open late.

Sunday, July 24

At the track…

Stakes races:

Grade I, $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks, three-year-old fillies on the dirt (1 1/8 miles). Undefeated champion filly Songbird is shipping east to contest the race, in which she’ll face multiple graded stakes winner Carina Mia.

baseball cap JPEGBaseball cap giveaway, the first of the meeting, while supplies last. This year, all season ticket and season pass holders will be guaranteed a cap if they redeem their coupons by 3pm; they will be required to use a designated gate at each entrance.

Low Roller Handicapping Challenge. Take your shot with a $40 buy-in ($30 goes to your own live bankroll, $10 to the prize pool). Registration begins at 10:30 am near the Fourstardave Sports Bar on the grandstand ground level.

 Taste NY, Food and Artisans, in the Saratoga Pavilion on the backyard side of the grandstand, towards the top of the stretch. At this weekly event, customers can sample and shop for food and crafts such as jams, baked goods, and hand-crafted soap, all produced in New York State. 10:30 am – 5 pm.

In NYRA’s community outreach booth, located near the jockeys’ silks room: Saratoga Springs Figure Skating Club

Hat contest, offering participants three categories in which to compete: Uniquely Saratoga, Fashionably Saratoga, Kreative Kids. Registration begins at noon in the grandstand, and the competition will take place after the second, third, and fourth races on the track apron. Prizes provided by Hatsational by DEI.

Elsewhere

Photo Finish Tour with Adam Mooshian. 8 – 9:30 am. More details as they become available; call 518 584 0400, ext. 118 for cost and more information. No children under 10.

Summer stroll with the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation. This first of weekly Sunday tours begins at the southeast corner of Nelson and Union Avenues and will feature the Reading Rooms, the National Museum of Racing, the Oklahoma training facility, and the Fasig-Tipton Humphrey S. Finney Sales Pavilion. 10:30 am. Reservations are suggested but not required at 518 587 5030 or Nicole Babie at nbabie@saratogapreservation.org. $5 for SSPF members, $8 for non-members. (Weekly, with different tour routes each Sunday)

Monday, July 25

At the track

Stakes races: $100,000 Lucky Coin, four-year-olds and up, 5 1/2 furlongs on the dirt

Fourstardave Sports Bar: Reserve a table and get a free Fourstardave bobblehead.

Low Roller Handicapping Challenge. Take your shot with a $40 buy-in ($30 goes to your own live bankroll, $10 to the prize pool). Registration begins at 10:30 am near the Fourstardave Sports Bar on the grandstand ground level.

Saratoga Perks members and season pass holders get a 10% discount on most on-track concession stands, NYRA merchandise stores, and Shake Shack. (Does not apply to restaurant dining, group sales, or Dunkin’ Donuts) (weekly)

Berkshire Bank Family Mondays, Saratoga Pavilion on the backyard side of the grandstand, near the top of the stretch. Enjoy kid-friendly games and activities and pet a retired Thoroughbred, all free of charge, with one designated activity carrying a suggested donation for a local school or PTA. Today’s beneficiary is the Brown School in Schenectady. (Weekly)

In NYRA’s community outreach booth, located near the jockeys’ silks room: Albany Police Athletic League

Elsewhere

hay oatsThe Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation’s “Hay, Oats & Spaghetti” dinner. Owners Giuseppe and Lauren Grisio are turning over their restaurant Bravo! to this fundraiser for the TRF. Limited reserved seating is available, and ticket prices include beer, wine, and an Italian buffet. Raffle tickets will be sold, and author/historian Michael Veitch will sign copies of his Foundations of Fame: Nineteenth Century Thoroughbred Racing in Saratoga Springs and Summit of Champions: Thoroughbred Racing in Saratoga Springs 1901-1955.  Bravo! is at 3246 Rt. 9. 6 – 9pm. Tickets are $75 in advance, $85 at the door. To reserve tickets or for additional information, click the link or call 518 226 0028.

 Tuesday, July 26

No racing

Book signing and lunch at Old Friends at Cabin Creek. Join author William Thomas, who will sign copies of The Legend of Zippy Chippy. One of Cabin Creek’s equine retirees, Zippy Chippy famously raced 100 times without ever getting to the winner’s circle. 11 am at the farm, 483 Sand Hill Road in Greenfield Center, a short drive from downtown Saratoga. Suggestion donation: $10

Book signing at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Can’t make it to Old Friends? Author William Thomas will sign copies of The Legend of Zippy Chippy at the Museum from 1 – 3pm. Free; books will be available for purchase.

Horses, History and Handicapping Sponsored by Thorofan. This week’s guest is Matt Muzikar, Saratoga native and agent for the multiple Eclipse Award-winning jockey Javier Castellano. 7 – 8:30 pm; see below for more information.

Ongoing/recurring events and activities

Walking tour oIce Box on the outsidef the Oklahoma training facility. Offered by reservation every day except Tuesday by the National Museum of Racing. Tours begin at 8:30 am in the Museum parking lot and reservations are required—weekend reservations are required by 4 p.m. the previous Thursday.

No tours are offered on August 12 or Travers weekend, August 27-28.  No children in backpacks or strollers, and tour participants must be at least 10 years old.

Sturdy walking shoes are suggested, and the cost is $5 for Museum members, $10 for non-members, which includes admission to the Museum after the tour.

For reservations or more information, call the Museum’s Education Department at 518 584 0400 ext. 120 or e-mail nmredu2@racingmuseum.net.

tom durkin7 NYRA

NYRA photo

Tom Durkin tours of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. New this year, the famed retired racecaller brings his prodigious knowledge of the sport of Thoroughbred racing to its premier historical institution from July 22 to September 5. Tours are from 11 am to noon most race day and are limited to 12 people on a first come, first served basis. Each participant will receive an autographed photograph of Durkin. The cost is $20 for Museum members, $25 for non-members and include the cost of Museum admission.

Tour reservations can be made by calling the Museum at 518 584 0400 ext. 109. There will be no Durkin-led tours on August 10, 12, 17, 20, and 27.

Tours of Old Friends at Cabin Creek Thoroughbred retirement farm. From July 26 to September 3, tours are offered Tuesday through Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm. Visit Commentator, Be Bullish, Cool N Collective, and Will’s Way among others, learning about their racing days and how they’re enjoying being spoiled in retirement.

Join NYRA racecaller Larry Collmus in his booth for the third race to support Backstretch Employees Service Team. Up to nine people can participate each day for $100 per person, with all proceeds going to support BEST’s work with backstretch workers. To reserve a spot, call Faith Resignolo at (516) 488-3434 ext. 100.

Horses, History and Handicapping Sponsored by Thorofan. The Academy for Lifelong Learning is offering a 4-week summer program on Tuesday evenings. Handicapper Tom Amello will make special appearances, and each week features a different guest.

July 26:  Matt Muzikar, Saratoga native and agent for the multiple Eclipse Award-winning jockey Javier Castellano
August 2: trainer Gary Contessa
August 16: handicapper and racing manager Chad Summers
August 23: turf writer Teresa Genaro (yours truly!)

The session is open to the public, and admission is $55 for all four sessions, or $15 at the door. For members of the Academy of Lifelong Learning or Thorofan, admission is $50 for four sessions, or $15 at the door. Seating is limited, and sessions take place at Longfellows Conference Center, 500 Union Avenue, from 7 – 8:30 pm.

The press release said that registration for the four-session package is required by July 19…but it’s always worth a call if you’ve missed that.

For more information or to become an Academy member ($60), contact vera.kasson@esc.edu or 587-2100 x2415.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “This Week at Saratoga, 2016: Week of July 18

  1. Just two more to add. Reigning standardbred pacer Wiggle It Jiggle It slated to run Saratoga night at Saratoga Hotel and Casino. Sunday, the heavy metal band, Slipknot, led by the extremely talented, Corey Taylor, is playing at SPAC.

    • So much going on in Saratoga that it’s impossible to cover it all, so I try to limit it to events around Thoroughbreds, racing charities, and Saratoga history. Thanks for adding to the list.

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