This week at Saratoga, 2016: Week of August 1

We’ve been spoiled. Over the last few years, the rain has avoided Saratoga like a gambler avoids an overbet bad favorite, but over the last few days, the wet stuff has descended like punters on a Pletcher firster. We’ve been off the turf for two days, and Tuesday isn’t looking much better.

Fortunately, there’s plenty to keep you busy, inside and out, this dark day and the rest of the week. A number of events support retired Thoroughbreds and workers on the backstretch, both of which are always a good use of your time and money; we’ve got handicapping contests and book signings and oh yeah a full day of graded stakes on Saturday, headlined by the Grade I Whitney.

The 2013 documentary on the history of Thoroughbred racing in Saratoga, The Track at Saratoga: America’s Grandest Race Course, will air regularly this summer. Produced by WMHT, the Albany public television station, it airs for the first time this summer on Thursday. (Disclosure: I’m in it. But despite that, it’s still really good, and if you love Saratoga, you’ll love this movie.)

Planning a visit for later in the meet? Here’s the list of events through Labor Day.

Scroll down to the bottom for events that happen daily or weekly.

Have an event you’d like publicized? E-mail me— preference given to racing, historical, and non-profit events. Nothing commercial, though feel free to get in touch if you’d like to talk about advertising.

And check back here often…events are added and updated almost daily.

Saratoga’s amusements reveal that the resort Saratoga was never a pastoral retreat for quiet self-evaluation but was, rather, a place of jostle, color, and activity. Visitors pilgrimaged to the Springs not in flight from urban life but on a journey to an intensified version of it…George Curtis, no friend of the resort, concluded, “while we laugh at Saratoga, its dancing, dressing, and flirtation…life is leisurely there, and business is amusement. It is a perpetual festival.”    — First Resorts: Pursuing Pleasure at Saratoga Springs, Newport & Coney Island

Monday, August 1

At the track

Stakes races: $100,000 Coronation Cup, three-year-old fillies, 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf

Duffle_Bag_1Giveaway #2, a Saratoga duffle bag, 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.

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

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. (Weekly)

In NYRA’s community outreach booth, located near the jockeys’ silks room: Commission on Economic Opportunity

Tuesday, August 2

No racing

Folklorist Ellen McHale presents on Stable Views, her behind-the scenes look at the Thoroughbred racing industry. Through 14 years of field research, McHale interviewed backstretch workers at racetracks across the country; her book is the result of these conversations about race and gender, changes in the industry, and other topics. 6 pm at Northshire Books on Broadway.

ACTT Naturally Open House, every Tuesday at Long Shadows Farm, through Aug. 30. Meet Albany Stakes winner Traffic Chief and Withers winner Harlem Rocker, both now retired and in re-training at Long Shadows. Noon to 4 pm, with demonstrations at 2 pm. 84 Dr Brown Lane, Cambridge, NY. Details and contact info at the farm’s website. (weekly)

Long Shadows Open House

Horses, History and Handicapping Sponsored by Thorofan. This week’s guest is trainer Gary Contessa. 7 – 8:30 pm; scroll to the bottom of this for more information. (weekly)

Wednesday, August 3

At the races

Stakes races: $100,000 Shine Again, fillies and mares three years old and up, 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf

Military Appreciation Day. All veterans and active duty military receive free grandstand and clubhouse admission with military ID, and service members will be honored in the winner’s circle before each race. On-site will be the USO Show Troupe and Racing City Chorus, and at 11:30 am, NYRA employees who are service members and veterans will appear in the winner’s circle during the singing of the National Anthem. In the Saratoga Pavilion will be an exhibit of artwork created by participants in the fine arts program of the Veteran Services Project at Living Resources, which supports local military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries. A number of military-related organizations will be in the Saratoga Pavilion, located on the backyard side of the grandstand near the top of the stretch.

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)

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

Elsewhere

If Wishes Were Horses, “an evening of celebration for Thoroughbred aftercare and a fundraiser for ACTT Naturally. Featuring OTTB and 2008 Grade III Withers winner Harlem Rocker, this evening of wine, pizza, and demonstrations will benefit ACTT Naturally’s mission of helping finding Thoroughbreds find a new career while participating in the program’s Equine Facilitated Learning Programs for women, teenagers, veterans, and corporate teams. At Saratoga Winery, 462 Washington Street. $45, two tickets for $80 in advance; $50, two for $90 at the door. Call 570 578 6377 for more information; purchase tickets here.

ACTT Naturally

Thursday, August 4

At the track

Stakes races:

Grade I, $125,000 A.P. Smithwick Memorial, four-year-olds and up, 2 1/16 miles on the turf (steeplechase)
$100,000 Quick Call for three-year-olds, 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf

Taste NY, wines, ciders and spirits in the Saratoga Pavilion on the backyard side of the grandstand, towards the top of the stretch. At this weekly event, customers can purchase five samples of adult beverages made in New York for $5. Noon – 5pm. (Weekly)

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)

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

Elsewhere

Fashionably Fillies luncheon to benefit The Jockey Club Safety Net Foundation and Shelters of Saratoga. Held at Saratoga National Golf Club, the luncheon will include a silent auction and fashion show, as well as beauty and wellness services. Tickets are $150. To buy tickets or for more information, contact Nancy Kelly at (518) 226-0609 or nkelly@jockeyclub.com.

Jockeys vs. horsemen basketball game to benefit the Race Track Chaplaincy. Saratoga Recreation Center, 15 Vanderbilt Avenue. Admission is free. 7 pm.

The Track at Saratoga: America’s Grandest Race Course, a public television documentary made in 2013 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Thoroughbred racing in Saratoga, will be shown on WMHT, Albany public television at 7:30 pm. The film features Allan Carter, the historian at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame; Paul Roberts, author of The Spa: Saratoga’s Legendary TrackSamantha Bosshart, executive director of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation, and yours truly. It also includes appearances by Tom Durkin, Todd Pletcher, Bill Mott, and Nick Zito.

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. This week’s guests: Eric Guillot, trainer of Jim Dandy maiden winner Laoban; the Saratoga Special’s Joe Clancy; and trainer Tom Morley, who got his first graded stakes win in the Honorable Miss last week. (Weekly)

Friday, August 5

At the track

Stakes races: Grade II, $200,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame for three-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles on the turf. NOTE: the actual Hall of Fame induction isn’t until August 12. 

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. (Weekly)

In NYRA’s community outreach booth, located near the jockeys’ silks room: Akindale Thoroughbred Rescue

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

Elsewhere

Hall of Fame jockey Ron Turcotte will sign autographs at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame from 10 am until noon. Turcotte will sign special limited-edition prints of him on Secretariat; the prints are available only at this signing. $40 for Museum members, $50 for non-members.

Saturday, August 6

At the races

Stakes races: The Whitney Racing Festival

$100,000 Fasig-Tipton De La Rose, fillies and mares four years old and up, 1 mile on the turf
$100,000 Fasig-Tipton Lure, four-year-olds and up, 1 1/6 miles on the turf
Grade III, $200,000 Fasig-Tipton Waya, fillies and mares three years old and up, 1 1/2 miles on the turf
Grade I, $1,250,000 Whitney for three-year-olds and up, 1 1/8 miles on the dirt
Grade I, $500,000 Test for three-year-old fillies, 7 furlongs on the dirt

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 Lifestyles clothing boutique (Lifestyles is a popular women’s clothing store in downtown Saratoga.) (weekly)

In NYRA’s community outreach booth, located near the jockeys’ silks room: Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance

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

Elsewhere

Photo Finish Tour with photographer Dona McAdams. 8 – 9:30 am. Learn about lighting, composition and developing your own eye. This program must be paid for in advance, and you must have a reservation. Cost is $25 for Museum members and $25 for non-members. For more information or to make a reservation, call 518-584-0400 ext. 120.  Space is limited. No children under 10.

Namaste Yoga’s Healers Open House to benefit Backstretch Employees Service Team. A variety of the Expo’s practitioners will offer brief lectures, a Q&A, and an “individual healing session” or group experience, including reiki, Feldenkrais, yoga therapy, Pranic healing, and Integrated Energy Therapy. Sign up online before August 6 and click here for more info and the schedule of practitioners.

Sunday, August 7

At the track

Stakes races: $100,000 Alydar for four-year-olds and up, 1 1/8 miles on the dirt

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 11 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. 10:30am – 5pm. (Weekly)

In NYRA’s community outreach booth, located near the jockeys’ silks room: Jewish War Veterans Post 36 Saratoga Springs

Elsewhere

Photo Finish Tour with Tod Marks. 7 – 8:30 am. Learn about lighting, composition and developing your own eye. This program must be paid for in advance, and you must have a reservation. Cost is $25 for Museum members and $25 for non-members. For more information or to make a reservation, call 518-584-0400 ext. 120.  Space is limited. No children under 10.

Summer stroll with the Saratoga Springs Preservation FoundationQueen Annes: Circular Street and Union Avenue. This walking tour meets at the southwest corner of Spring and Circular Streets and will focus on the area that was formerly home to what was known as the Young Women’s Industrial Club of Saratoga; it became Skidmore College. Learn about the College’s early days and the Queen Anne homes along Union Avenue. 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)

“After the Race” cock tail party for Old Friends at Cabin Creek. Honoring retired jockey Ramon Dominguez with the Old Friends Award, this evening will feature hors d’oeuvres, dinner, and a live and silent auction. Tickets are $100 and include two drink tickets. At The Lodge, One Nelson Avenue, 6:30 – 10:30 pm.

Monday, August 8

At the races

Stakes races: $100,000 New York Stallion Series Cab Calloway Division for three-year-olds, 1 mile on the turf 

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 11 am near the Fourstardave Sports Bar on the grandstand ground level.

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

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. This week’s beneficiary is Chango Elementary School of Ballston Lake. (Weekly)

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)

In NYRA’s community outreach booth, located near the jockeys’ silks room: The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

Elsewhere

Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders’ Association pedigree and conformation clinic, at the Fasig-Tipton sales grounds. Check-in begins at 7:30 a.m.; details here, register here.

Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale at the sales grounds on East Avenue. The sale begins at 7 pm, but people will gather earlier to socialize and gawk at pricey equine babies. Open to the public, but the pavilion is reserved for the people who will be doing the bidding, with others hanging out behind the pavilion near the walking ring and bar. The sale continues Tuesday night.

Tuesday, August 9

No racing

Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders’ Association pedigree and conformation clinic, at the Fasig-Tipton sales grounds. Check-in begins at 8 a.m.; details here, register here.

Commentator and John Velazquez at Saratoga. NYRA/Adam Coglianese

Commentator and John Velazquez at Saratoga. NYRA/Adam Coglianese

Lunch with two-time Whitney Handicap winner Commentator at Old Friends at Cabin Creek. Guests will include Commentator’s owners, Tracy and Carol Farmer. Tours begin at 9 am, with lunch available at 11 am. The farm will close at 1 pm. Suggested donation: $10

Author William Thomas presents on his The Legend of Zippy Chippy: Life Lessons from Horse Racing’s Most Loveable Loser, the horse that ran 100 times without making it to the winner’s circle. 7 pm at Northshire Books on Broadway.

Author James Nicholson presents on his biography of John Morrissey, The Notorious John Morrissey: How a Bare-Knuckle Brawler Became a Congressman and Founded Saratoga Race Course. A book signing will follow the presentation. 7 pm in the H. Dutcher Community Room in the Saratoga Springs Public Library on Henry St.

Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale at the sales grounds on East Avenue. The sale begins at 7 pm, but people will gather earlier to socialize and gawk at pricey equine babies. Open to the public, but the pavilion is reserved for the people who will be doing the bidding, with others hanging out behind the pavilion near the walking ring and bar. The sale continues Tuesday night.

Ongoing/recurring events and activities

Backstretch tours at Saratoga Race Course. Every day except Tuesday, take a free 45-minute tour of the backstretch. No reservations are accepted; tram tours begin at 7:30 am and depart every 15 minutes until approximately 9 am. Tours leave from the Wright St. entrance to the track, near the clubhouse. No tours on Travers Day or Labor Day.

Ice Box on the outside

Walking tour of 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-mailnmredu2@racingmuseum.net.

NYRA photo

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 includes 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.

 

Be Bullish, way back when he was a three-year-old racing at Saratoga.

Be Bullish, way back when he was a three-year-old racing at Saratoga.

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.

ACTT Naturally Open House, every Tuesday at Long Shadows Farm, through Aug. 30. Meet Albany Stakes winner Traffic Chief and Withers winner Harlem Rocker, both now retired and in re-training at Long Shadows. Noon to 4 pm, with demonstrations at 2 pm. 84 Dr Brown Lane, Cambridge, NY. Details and contact info at the farm’s website.

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.

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.

Sessions take place at Longfellows Conference Center, 500 Union Avenue, from 7 – 8:30 pm.

 

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