Stephen Travers, Vice President of Hospitality, Guest Services and Group Sales for NYRA, listed some of the highlights of this year’s 150th meet of the Saratoga Race Course at a press conference held at Fasig Tipton this week.
Noting that NYRA was bringing back the guided walking tours of the race course, which leave from the race track on each race day, Travers said the 45-minute tour would leave from the grandstand six times a day—9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
The tours, which were discontinued 13 years ago, will feature a historical overview of the facility and showcase a number of the property’s highlights including the architecture, landscape and traditions.
“NYRA is proud to celebrate the 150th anniversary season by showcasing this historic venue through educational tours,” said Travers. “We hope that the tours make a trip to Saratoga Race Course that much more enjoyable and memorable for longtime fans and new patrons.”
There will also be Boutiques at the Carousel, added Travers, a new venue this year.
“We will have eight vendors with clothing, food and art,” said Travers. “We will also have a uniquely New York Marketplace with 13 vendors featuring hand-crafted art and food all from New York and from as far away as Rochester.”
Among others, some of the vendors to be featured in the Boutiques at the Carousel include equine art by Kika of Monroe, jewelry and large format digital prints from Saratoga Springs artist Carol Wells, and Equine Art by Ken of Corinth.
There will also be Family Fridays at the entrance near the Carousel with family-friendly events.
“Fridays are all about families,” said Travers. “We will be bringing back the weekly family-friendly festivals featuring games, attractions and educational activities each Friday of the meet.”
The Family Fridays will run from noon to 4 p.m.
NYRA Vice President Rodnell Workman pointed out that this year he had “noticed a heightened interest in the Saratoga Springs race meet.”
He noted that in light of the celebrations, NYRA had teamed up with Disney star Zendaya for a free concert during the July 14 open house.
“The concert is almost all sold out,” said Workman. “There are only a handful of seats left—but there will be a first come, first served free access on the apron the day of the concert.”
The giveaways this year have some tried and true items returning, along with some unique new items—it will feature the signature Saratoga Race Course t-shirt—July 28; a Fourstardave bobble head—August 11; a replica model of the race course—August 18; and a Saratoga beer stein emblazoned with some of the most legendary thoroughbreds to have competed at the track—September 1.
This year, the races will also be telecast live for the first time. Previously, the Capital District Regional Off-Track Betting (OTB) would show the Saratoga races on tape delay after the race went official.
“This agreement is a result of a new era of cooperation between NYRA and Capital OTB,” said NYRA vice president of Corporate Development, David O’Rourke.
Those races can be views on Time Warner Cable channel 12.
In addition, NYRA and NBC partnered to present “Summer at Saratoga,” a series with seven live broadcasts from the race course featuring live coverage of some of the premier races including the Whitney Handicap and Alabama Stakes.
In addition, the 2013 Saratoga Race Course stakes schedule, highlighted by the 144th running of the Grade 1, $1 million Travers, will feature 53 listed and graded stakes races worth almost $14.95 million in purse money. In total, there will 18 Grade 1 races.
Also expected will be some of the country’s top trainers including Todd Pletcher, Chad Brown and Shug McGaughey.
P.J. Campo, NYRA’s vice president and director of racing, said that while Orb, Oxbow and Palace Malice had all raced here last year, he expected them to make another appearance this year.
“Accompanying McGaughey, [D. Wayne] Lukas and Pletcher to Saratoga will be the three winners of this year’s Triple Crown,” said Campo. “Kentucky Derby hero Orb, Preakness winner Oxbow and Belmont victor Palace Malice, who could use the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy and the Travers as telling arguments for divisional supremacy.”
The season is set to begin on Friday, July 19.