Opening Day: The 144th meet at Saratoga Race Course gets underway with gates opening at 11 a.m. and first post scheduled for 1 p.m. The James Marvin, the first of 35 graded stakes during the 40-day meet which runs through September 3, shares the 10-race card with the 94th running of the Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville for 2-year-old fillies.
Family Fun Fest: Opening Day marks the meet's first Family Fun Friday – an all-new attraction that will stretch the length of the 2012 season. The family festivals will be held each Friday in the backyard playground area from noon to 4 p.m. The weekly event features a variety of free family-friendly activities for all ages, including a bounce inflatable and the Tiny Tots Tea Room arts and crafts table. This week's featured activity is the FOX 23 karaoke booth, at which visitors can sing along to their chosen songs. Booth visitors will also have the opportunity to register to win a pair of tickets to American Idol Live at the Times Union Center August 30.
Coca-Cola Best Bet: Fridays feature a new offer for the 2012 season - the Coca-Cola Best Bet: adult grandstand admission, a Post Parade program, a hot dog and Coca-Cola for $5. The Coca-Cola Best Bet offer is found on Coca-Cola displays at participating retailers throughout the area. The voucher can be redeemed at the Reserved Seats Office on Union Avenue on any Friday during the season.
Talking Horses: The popular Talking Horses broadcast, presented by Daily Racing Form, will return for its fourth year. The daily broadcast is conducted in a live audience format from the Carousel at Saratoga Race Course from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every racing day. The show is also broadcast live daily at www.nyra.com.
Times Union Track Pics Photo Contest: Racing fans will have the opportunity to capture the spirit of Saratoga Race Course on camera for a chance to win prizes through the Times Union Track Pics Photo Contest. Each week of the meet beginning on Opening Day, participants can submit their original photos taken at Saratoga to compete for one of several prizes. Participants may submit their photos online at www.timesunion.com/trackpics. A gallery of the best submissions will be featured online at www.timesunion.com. The photographer of the winning photo submitted between July 20 and 23 will receive two reserved grandstand seats and a $25 Dunkin' Donuts gift card. Each week's winner will also be entered to win the grand prize of paddock passes, an opportunity to photograph a race from the Winner's Circle, and a photograph with the winner's favorite Saratoga jockey.
Hats Off to Saratoga Festival: Nearly a dozen bands will line Broadway and nearby streets from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. in downtown Saratoga Springs to provide fans with a memorable night of music and entertainment to celebrate the return of the thoroughbreds to Saratoga. Musical acts include Captain Squeezer and the Zydeco Moshers, MAXIMUS, Maryleigh & the Fauves, Skip Parsons Clarinet Marmalade Quartet, Jeff Strange, Bob Warren & Friends, and the Racing City Chorus.
SATURDAY, JULY 21
TVG Coaching Club American Oaks: The Grade 1, $300,000 TVG Coaching Club American Oaks for three-year old fillies returns to Saratoga Race Course for its 96th run.
Guaranteed Saturday Pick 4: NYRA will offer a $500,000 Guaranteed Late Pick 4 each Saturday of the Saratoga meet -- a $1 minimum wager in which the bettor must correctly pick the winners of four consecutive races.
Hats Off to Saratoga Festival: The second night of theopening weekend festival will again feature nearly a dozen bands in downtown Saratoga Springs from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. to provide fans with a memorable night of free music and entertainment. Saturday's lineup will include Aged in the Hills, Bernie Branch, Chris Cooley, and Rachel Matthews, in addition to a number of returning acts from Friday evening's festivities.
SUNDAY, JULY 22
The Sanford: Two-year-olds take center stage at Saratoga Race Course in the 98th running of the Grade 2 Sanford Stakes.
21st Annual Saratoga Hat Contest: The millinery mayhem will unfold on the track apron as adults and kids compete in a "head to head" contest for the titles of Kreative Kids, Fashionably Saratoga and Uniquely Saratoga. Registration begins at noon under the Grandstand. Hats will be judged after the second, third and fourth races on the track apron with the contestants vying for a variety of prizes including a $500 betting voucher, $100 gift card to the Gideon Putnam Resort & Spa, Saratoga Race Course merchandise, and special trophies. Judges will include Kristi Barlette, social media strategist and host of the Times Union lifestyle blog On the Edge; Matt Baumgartner, owner of Bomber's Burrito Bar and Wolff's Biergarten and host of the blog Friday Puppy; Mary Darcy, co-founder and editor of Capital Region website AllOverAlbany.com; as well as Kevin Rush and Randi Tyler, co-hosts of the "Morning Show" on 99.5 The River.
Saratoga Winnings Coupon Book: The first 10,000 fans through the turnstiles can pick up a Saratoga Winnings coupon book with paid admission. Distributed by The New York Racing Association, Inc. in partnership with the Saratoga Downtown Business Association, the coupon books contain valuable offers and discounts to various Saratoga merchants.
MONDAY, JULY 23
Dunkin' Donuts Mondays and the Dunkin' Donuts Daily Double: Throughout the 2012 meet, Dunkin' Donuts customers and racing fans will receive an extra perk on Mondays. All fans who present their Dunkin' Donuts card at the track admission gates on Mondays will receive $2 off the price of grandstand admission. For the third year in a row, Dunkin' Donuts will guide racing fans as the title sponsor of the time-honored Daily Double wagering tradition. The Dunkin' Donuts Daily Double will be offered on both the early and late doubles each day at Saratoga Race Course and will be featured during the popular Talking Horses broadcast on NYRA TV.
Saratoga's Racing Legends Series: A Conversation with Tom Durkin: Community members are invited to meet "the voice of NYRA" during a conversation with race track announcer Tom Durkin. Sports journalist Mike Kane will lead the discussion, which will focus on Durkin's 20-plus years in the business. The event begins at 7 p.m. at the Saratoga Springs Public Library and is free and open to the public.
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