SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) has announced the lineup of family-friendly entertainment and special events at Saratoga Race Course for the 2012 season.
OPENING DAY: A wide variety of special events, including perennial favorites, will engage fans throughout the meet beginning with Opening Day on Friday, July 20.
FAMILY FUN FRIDAYS: This season will feature Family Fun Fridays, a series of weekly family festivals each Friday during the summer in the backyard picnic area. The day-long event will include a number of activities, games, bounce inflatables, and arts and crafts for all ages.
GIVEAWAYS: One of the most popular non-racing elements of the meet, giveaway days will again be a feature in 2012. Four Sunday giveaways are planned this year: a Saratoga baseball cap on Sunday, July 29; a Saratoga picnic mat on Sunday, August 12; a Saratoga pilsner glass on Sunday, August 19; and a Saratoga fleece blanket on Sunday, September 2.
TRAVERS: The summer will hit a high point with Saratoga's signature race: the 143rd running of the Grade 1, $1 million Travers Stakes. The "Mid-Summer Derby" for three-year-olds at the classic distance of 1 ¼-mile will be held on Saturday, August 25.
TRAVERS FESTIVAL: The anticipation for the summer's biggest race will build with over a week of festivities to celebrate Saratoga's crown jewel. The 17th annual Travers Festival will offer nine days of special events and activities from Saturday, August 18 through Sunday, August 26. Special events throughout the festival include the Stewart's Shops annual Ice Cream Eating Contest (Wednesday, August 22); the 14th annual Ronald McDonald House Fashion Show (Thursday, August 23); the 12th annual Travers Celebration (Thursday, August 23); the Battle of the Brews to benefit the American Red Cross (Friday, August 24); and the third annual Travers Eve party in downtown Saratoga Springs (Friday, August 24).
RESTAURANT WEEK: The festival will also include the return of the third annual Travers 1864 Restaurant Week, which celebrates the year of the inaugural running of the Travers Stakes. From Sunday, August 19 through Thursday, August 23, restaurants throughout the greater Capital Region will once again offer a three-course meal for the prix fixe cost of $18.64.
PARTY AT THE SPA: Saratoga Race Course will host two "Party at the Spa" celebrations on Friday, July 27 and Friday, August 31. Presented by Coors Light, each day features a 2:30 p.m. post time. Fans are invited to stay after the races as the fun continues with live music and food at The Post.
HANDICAPPING CHALLENGE: The highly successful Battle of Saratoga Handicapping Challenge will return on Wednesday, August 8 and Thursday, August 9. One hundred and fifty players will be invited to compete in the handicapping contest for the chance to win $150,000 and a trip to the Daily Racing Form/NTRA Las Vegas National Handicapping Tournament. Entry forms will be available at nyra.com in late June.
FINAL STRECH FESTIVAL: The meet will conclude with the three-day Final Stretch Festival, held Saturday, September 1 through Monday, September 3. On-track events will include the annual Family Fun Fest and Times Union Labor Day BBQ on Sunday, September 2 and Monday, September 3.