What's Happening 2017 Opening Weekend at Saratoga Race Course
by Pat Mckenna; Mark Bardack
THURSDAY, JULY 20
- "At the Post Live: Serling on Saratoga": NYRA broadcast analyst and nationally recognized thoroughbred racing personality Andy Serling will host the first in a series of weekly live broadcasts on ESPN Radio 104.5 "The Team" at The Parting Glass in downtown Saratoga Springs from 8 to 9 p.m. Serling will offer weekly tips, discuss behind the scenes information about Saratoga Race Course and interact with special guests, including Hall of Fame trainers and jockeys, leading racing personalities, notable industry figures and celebrity horse racing fans. Special guests for the first show of the season include the newest member of the NYRA broadcast team Paul Lo Duca, jockey Rajiv Maragh, and trainer Brad Cox.
FRIDAY, JULY 21
- Opening Day: The 2017 season at Saratoga Race Course gets underway with gates opening at 11 a.m. Opening Day will kick off with a pair of graded stakes: the Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville for 2-year-old fillies and the Grade 3, $150,000 Lake George for 3-year-old turf fillies. First race post time is 1 p.m. Grandstand admission is $5 and clubhouse admission is $8.
- NYRA XP: Opening Day will feature the Saratoga debut of NYRA XP, a new app that will enable fans to personalize and navigate their on-track experience through their mobile device. Fans who download NYRA XP will be able to learn about upcoming events, purchase tickets, find their seat location, bet through NYRA Bets, live stream races and customize their viewing experience from various camera locations, conduct wayfinding activities and, later in the meet, order food from on-track concessions and purchase reserved parking.
- Saratoga Family Zone: Guests in attendance for Opening Weekend will be treated to the new Saratoga Family Zone, offering families a smoke- and alcohol-free interactive play area near the Reserved Seats Box Office. New features of the Saratoga Family Zone include an oval multi-lane running track surrounding the playscape, a miniature replica starting gate, a "selfie" photo station, spring horses, and educational panels designed to teach children about the life of a race horse.
- Breakfast at Saratoga, presented by B95.5 FM Breakfast Club: Fans are invited to enjoy breakfast on The Porch of the clubhouse while the thoroughbreds train on the main track. Breakfast is held from 7 to 9:30 a.m. and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. The morning buffet is $18.50 for adults and $10.25 for kids. Mornings at Saratoga also welcome fans to go behind the scenes with a free, guided backstretch tram tour. Tram tours begin at 7:30 a.m. and depart from the clubhouse entrance approximately every 15 minutes through 9 a.m. Tours are available on a first-come, first-served basis and are 45 minutes in length. Breakfast and tours are available daily, except Travers Day, Saturday, August 26.
- Taste NY: Craft Beer: Opening Day welcomes the return of the highly popular Taste NY: Craft Beer event, which offers guests a selection of New York craft beers available for sampling each Friday in partnership with the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets. Fans will be able to sample five craft beers for $5 at the Berkshire Bank Saratoga Pavilion from noon to 5 p.m.
- Woodford Reserve Fridays at The Post: Racing fans are invited to continue their day at Saratoga with Woodford Reserve Fridays at The Post, the lively bar and entertainment sport located adjacent to the paddock. Each Friday of the meet will feature a DJ and dancing, cocktail samplings and trivia at The Post following the day's final race
- Community Outreach Booth: The New York Racing Association will host Rerun Thoroughbred Adoption, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to creating a happy life for thoroughbred horses that no longer compete at the race track. Spa Mirbeau will offer chair and hand massage services on the Jockey Silks Porch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. In lieu of service fees, all guest contributions will be donated to Rerun Thoroughbred Adoption.
SATURDAY, JULY 22
- Diana and Sanford: Saturday's highlights include the Grade 3, $150,000 Sanford for 2-year-olds and the first Grade 1 of the meet, the $500,000 Diana for turf fillies and mares.
- Taste NY: Food and Artisans: Opening weekend will feature the Saturday debut of Taste NY: Food and Artisans, a lively on-track market where guests can sample and shop food and crafts in the Berkshire Bank Saratoga Pavilion from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event will for the first time expand to two days, having previously been held only on Sundays. The market will be held each Saturday and Sunday of the 2017 meet. The events will be complemented by handicapping tutorials and racing tips from the Bets Squad, as well as the opportunity to learn more about NYRA Bets and NYRA XP.
- Ketel One Party at The Post: The fun will continue each Saturday of the season with the Ketel One Party at The Post. Saturday evenings at Saratoga will feature music from a DJ following the day's final race, cocktail samplings and giveaways.
- Community Outreach Booth: The Community Outreach Booth will host The Wesley Community, a 36-acre not-for-profit agency in Saratoga Springs which serves the needs of seniors, adults and pediatrics.
SUNDAY, JULY 23
- Coaching Club American Oaks: Sunday will feature the Grade 1, $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.
- Saratoga Baseball Cap Giveaway: Fans will have the opportunity to take home the first premium giveaway of the 2017 season: a red and white Saratoga baseball cap, presented by Saratoga Casino Hotel. All giveaways are free with paid admission, while supplies last. Season pass and season ticket plan holders are guaranteed a Saratoga premium giveaway item on the day of the giveaway contingent on the following: Season pass or season ticket plan holders must be in attendance at Saratoga Race Course, enter through the designated season ticket and pass holder lines and redeem the giveaway by 3 p.m. Redemptions will begin when gates open to the general public.
- 26th annual Saratoga Hat Contest, presented by Hat Sationa! by DEI:Hundreds of contestants will don creative and fashionable headwear to compete in a staple of opening weekend at Saratoga Race Course. Participants are invited to compete in three distinct categories: Uniquely Saratoga; Fashionably Saratoga; and Kreative Kids. Registration for the Hat Contest will begin at noon under the grandstand. The competition will take place after the second, third and fourth races on the track apron for the chance to win a variety of prizes provided by Hat Sationa! by DEI.
- Taste NY: Food and Artisans: The Sunday edition of the market will welcome guests to the Berkshire Bank Saratoga Pavilion from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Community Outreach Booth: The NYRA Community Outreach Booth will host the Veterans and Community Housing Coalition, which serves the needs of and advocates for homeless military veterans through support services.
MONDAY, JULY 24
- Berkshire Bank Family Mondays: Monday will be highlighted by the return of Berkshire Bank Family Mondays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Berkshire Bank Saratoga Pavilion. All kid-friendly games and activities, including the opportunity to pet a retired thoroughbred, are free of charge, with the exception of one designated activity which carries a suggested donation to benefit a local school or PTA. The beneficiary of the first Monday of the season is Brown School in Schenectady.
- Community Outreach Booth: The Community Outreach Booth will host the Saratoga Regional YMCA, which is committed to promoting physical fitness in the community, and providing youth, teen and childcare programs.