If you have any energy left after a day at the track, you’ll find no shortage of racing-related (and other) events at which to spend your time—and your money—on Saratoga evenings. Here’s the first in a series of weekly posts about what’s going on in Saratoga.
Wednesday, July 18: The National Museum of Racing offers its annual preview of the racing meet. This year’s panelists are Saratogian turf writer Michael Veitch, jockey agent and Saratoga native Matt Muzikar, jockey Rosie Napravnik, and trainer Dale Romans. The event begins at 7:00 in the Museum’s Hall of Fame; the event is free and open to the public. Plan to arrive early because the place usually fills up quickly.
Thursday, July 19: We’re back at the Museum for an evening with artist Greg Montgomery, who annually creates the poster for the Travers Stakes. He’ll be discussing the series and taking questions from the audience; following the talk, he’ll sign copies of his 2012 Travers poster. The event begins at 7:00 and is free and open to the public.
Friday, July 20: Opening day for the 144th Thoroughbred racing meeting at Saratoga features two Grade III stakes races. The James Marvin is for three-year-olds and up; the race is graded for the first time this year and it was won last year by Jackson Bend. The Schuylerville was first run in 1918; winners include Ashado, La Prevoyante, and Cicada.
Saturday, July 21: At the track, the Coaching Club American Oaks (Grade I) will be run for the 96th time.
Saturday evening, join the good folks from Old Friends at Cabin Creek for an evening of cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and fundraising for Thoroughbred retirement. This year’s event takes place at the Saratoga Golf and Polo Club from 6 to 10 pm; tickets are $75. For more information and to purchase a ticket, visit the Cabin Creek website or call Joanne Pepper at 518 698 2377.
Sunday, July 22: In the morning, join the Saratoga Springs Preservation Society for a tour of the area around Saratoga Race Course, including the Reading Room, the National Museum of Racing, the Oklahoma Track, and the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion. Part of the “Summer Stroll” series, the walk is $5 for members and $8 for non-members and begins at 10:30 at the southeast corner of Nelson and Union Avenues.
In the afternoon, join the Friends of Sanford Stud Farm for the 98th running of the Sanford Stakes (Grade II) for a luncheon honoring the legacy of historic Sanford Farm, formerly known as Hurricana, one of racing’s treasures that has been ravaged by development. The $90 ticket includes a buffet lunch in the Carousel, clubhouse admission, a program for the day’s races, a commemorative Friends of Sanford Stud Farm gift, and a souvenir program. For more information or to purchase a ticket, visit the farm’s website, call 518 848 3000, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, July 23: The feature race is the Evan Shipman for New York-breds, won by Fio Rito in its inaugural running in 1981.
Wednesday, July 25: One of my favorite races, the Grade II Lake George, won recently by Winter Memories, Perfect Shirl, Rutherienne, and Film Maker, is the mid-week feature. In 1996, Winter Memories’ dam, Memories of Silver, won it, and one of my favorite moments from last summer was talking to owner/breeder John Phillips and trainer Jimmy Toner about it.
If you don’t believe that jockeys are athletes, watching them play basketball will be sure to change your mind. The jockeys shed their silks and don shorts to raise money for the Race Track Chaplaincy in a charity game; tip-off is at 7:00 at the Saratoga Rec Center at 15 Vanderbilt Avenue. The Chaplaincy helps fund back-to-school programs, a summer enrichment program, a camp and child care for Saratoga backstretch workers, and recreational opportunities through the year.
Sponsors for this year’s game include Winstar Farm, The Jockey Club Safety Foundation, the New York Racing Association, Masters Private Client Group, Daily Racing Form, New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, David Donk Racing Stable and Todd Pletcher Racing Stable. For more information, contact (516) 835-0275 or e-mail RTCANY@aol.com.
And every day through the meet (except for Travers day), up to six racing fans can join Tom Durkin in the announcer’s booth for the third race. Donations of $100 per person go to Backstretch Employees Service Team.
Don’t forget to pace yourselves…it’s only week 1!