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Jul 9, 2021
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Runhappy Opening Weekend to feature exciting lineup of events and activities as fans return to Saratoga Race Course for 2021 season

by Pat McKenna; Mark Bardack



Gates open at 11 a.m. on Opening Day with first post time of 1:05 p.m. 

Fans who show proof of vaccination via New York State Excelsior Pass receive free Grandstand admission on Opening Day

The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) will welcome fans back to the Spa for an action-packed four days filled with world-class thoroughbred racing and outstanding special events during Runhappy Opening Weekend of the 2021 season at Saratoga Race Course, Thursday, July 15 through Sunday, July 18.

Runhappy Opening Weekend will feature six stakes, including the Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville for 2-year-old fillies on Opening Day. Saratoga's first Grade 1 of the season will be contested on Saturday, July 17: the $500,000 Diana for turf fillies and mares. 

“Following a season without spectators, we are thrilled to welcome the best fans in racing back to Saratoga,” said NYRA President and CEO Dave O’Rourke. “Fans at Runhappy Opening Weekend will enjoy our special combination of electrifying racing and exciting entertainment. We encourage fans to join us for the start of a season to remember.”

Opening Day, Thursday, July 15: Live musical performances, Moët and Chandon champagne toast 

NYRA will kick-off Runhappy Opening Weekend with a day-long celebration to welcome the return of fans to Saratoga Race Course. All fans who show proof of vaccination via the New York State Excelsior Pass will receive free Grandstand general admission. Gates open at 11 a.m. with a first post time of 1:05 p.m. 

Fans will be entertained by numerous Saratoga Springs-based musical acts throughout the afternoon, including a quartet from the Racing City Chorus, who will greet patrons at the gates. Tenor Angelo Mazzone, Jr. will deliver a special performance of the National Anthem. Local high-energy music ensemble Soul Session will perform both trackside and at the Volcan Tequila Summer Music Stage during the afternoon. 

 Additionally, fans throughout the venue will be encouraged to raise a glass of Moët and Chandon to the 2021 season during a track wide champagne toast.

Friday, July 16: Health Care Heroes and First Responders Day, presented by CDPHP 

NYRA will recognize the contributions of health care workers and first responders during the Covid-19 pandemic with a day in their honor, presented by CDPHP. All health care workers and first responders will receive free Grandstand admission with proper ID. 

NYRA will welcome doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and vaccine site workers from Capital Region hospitals and healthcare organizations to the winner’s circle for a race named in their honor. Local police officers, firefighters, EMTs and paramedics will also receive special recognition in the winner’s circle with their own race.

The afternoon will be highlighted by a special appearance by the New York State Police Pipes and Drums who will perform on the track apron. 

Saturday, July 17­: All-New Fashion Contest and recognition of Downtown Window Decorating Contest winners

Racing fans will be invited to celebrate the tradition of style in thoroughbred racing with a new Fashion Contest from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Whispering Angel Rosé display near the Travers Bar, presented by Moët Hennessy. 

The contest will include categories for Best Hat, Best Dressed Woman and Best Dressed Man. All participants will receive a complimentary keepsake photo. Fans 21 years of age and older will enjoy complimentary samples of Chateau d’Esclans Whispering Angel Rosé, while supplies last.

NYRA on Saturday will also recognize the winners of the Celebrate Saratoga! window decorating contest held in partnership with the Saratoga Springs Downtown Business Association. The racing-themed window displays can currently be viewed at more than one dozen storefronts throughout downtown. Winners will be chosen by a panel of judges.

Participating merchants include: Celtic Treasures, Complexions Spa, Crafters Gallery, G. Willikers, Holiday Inn Saratoga Springs, Impressions of Saratoga, Lifestyles of Saratoga, Saratoga Dance, Saratoga National Bank, Saratoga Saddlery, Saratoga Tea and Honey, Spoken Boutique, Tailgate and Party, The Dark Horse Mercantile and Walt and Whitman Brewing. 

Sunday, July 18: Berkshire Bank Family Sundays

Berkshire Bank Family Sundays will feature a wide variety of free family-friendly activities, games, attractions and educational activities each Sunday at the Berkshire Bank Family Zone located inside Gate A. 

Features of the playground include a complimentary phone charging station, courtesy of Berkshire Bank; a giant Adirondack-style chair designed for photo opportunities; and an oval multi-lane running track complete with a miniature replica starting gate.

Fans on Sunday will also enjoy an encore performance from Soul Session at the Volcan Tequila Summer Music Stage.

Fans will not be required to provide proof of vaccination for admission to Saratoga Race Course. Non-vaccinated individuals will be required to wear a facial covering during their day at Saratoga Race Course, in accordance with federal CDC guidance.

NYRA reserves the right to amend admission protocols based on updates and adjustments by New York State. 

Grandstand admission is $7 and Clubhouse admission is $10. Limited reserved seating is available for Runhappy Opening Weekend. Grandstand and Clubhouse admission may be purchased in advance online at Ticketmaster.com or in-person at the gates. 

Opening Weekend of the 2021 season at Saratoga Race Course is sponsored by Runhappy, a champion sprinter currently standing at Claiborne Farm.

The 40-day summer meet at historic Saratoga Race Course will feature 76 stakes worth $21.5 million in total purses highlighted by the 152nd renewal of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers on August 28 and the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney on August 7, as the anchors of two of the most prestigious racing days in North America. 

Following the four-day Runhappy Opening Weekend from Thursday, July 15 through Sunday, July 18, racing will be conducted five days a week, Wednesdays through Sundays, with the exception of the final week, when the meet will conclude on Labor Day.

For more information about Saratoga Race Course, visit NYRA.com/Saratoga.


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