Edited press release
Saratoga Race Course will open its gates five days early as the Spa prepares to host its annual pre-season preview party, the 31st annual Open House. A Saratoga tradition held prior to the start of racing season, Open House returns to offer a full day of attractions, games and activities on Sunday, July 17.
Presented by Hannaford Supermarkets, the 31st annual Open House will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and feature carnival games, lively music, giant inflatables, circus shows, handicapping seminars and an array of food and beverage-- all to benefit local charities. Admission and parking are free.
Saratoga fans will have an opportunity to create and display their best Travers-themed poster in the inaugural Open House poster parade. Fans can bring a poster to the track or create one on site with staff from the Tiny Tots Tea Room. All materials will be provided. The poster parade will take place on the apron at 2:30 p.m. with registration starting at 11 a.m. The grand prize winner will have the opportunity to name a race and present a trophy in the winner’s circle during the summer meet. Second and third place contestants also receive prizes.
The Jockey Autograph Book will be available for the first time this season with a voluntary contribution to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. The autograph books will be distributed on track by Hannaford Supermarkets, the sponsor of the 2011 edition. Headed by John Velazquez, the 20-page book features a full page for the top 12 leading jockeys by the number of wins at Saratoga in 2010, along with photos and fun facts for each.
The National Steeplechase Association will get a jump on the racing season by presenting three hurdle races and one on the turf. No pari-mutuel wagering is available on these races which get underway every 45 minutes beginning at 1:30 p.m.
Another highlight for horse lovers is the Islip Horsemen’s Association Long Island Drill Team. The team, which has participated in various distinguished events including the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, will demonstrate its moves and skills as more than a dozen horses execute intricate pinwheels, circles, and V formations. The team will perform on the main track at 11:15 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.
Open House will include the eighth-annual mascot race, which pits famed mascots from local sports teams and well-known brands against one another in a one-of-a-kind race down the main track. Post time is noon.
The American Red Cross will host a blood drive in its traveling blood donor center outside the Union Avenue gates from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The five-bed traveling donor center has the capacity to collect 30 units of blood a day, potentially adding more than 7,500 units of lifesaving blood a year to the Capital Region. For more information or to make an appointment to donate, please call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit www.redcrossblood.org.
The Children’s Museum of Science and Technology will present its educational and explorative Leaping Lizards and Rocking Reptiles exhibit. Kids and families will have a chance to meet these fascinating cold-blooded creatures, while learning about their behaviors, habitats and lifestyles. These captivating demonstrations can be enjoyed under the Carousel at 11:15 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:45 p.m. and 3 p.m.
The backyard will play host to a variety of activities including pony rides, inflatables, face painting, caricatures and a petting zoo. Young racing fans can participate in the interactive Backyard Circus in the festival tent or catch some air on the popular bounce inflatables.
Open House will also feature live music from the strolling swing band Captain Squeeze & the Zydeco Moshers.
Patrons can get a glimpse into the inner workings of the track with free backstretch tours every half hour beginning at 11 a.m. at the Clubhouse entrance.
Designed to support community organizations, Saratoga’s Open House annually generates thousands of dollars for local not-for-profit groups through the sale of food and beverages.
Visitors can choose from a variety of food items, including hamburgers, fried dough, sausage and peppers, and ice cream sandwiches. All proceeds benefit area charitable organizations such as Beagle School, Brookside Museum, Jewish Community Center, Knights of Columbus, St. Clements, GSNENY, Racing City Chorus, Saratoga EOC, Saratoga Rowing Association, Saratoga-Wilton BPOE, Watervliet Civic Center and many others.
For a small fee, visitors can have their day at the races commemorated with a special photo laminated on a 3”x 4” photo magnet. All proceeds benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Additionally, the Saratoga Economic Opportunity Council, a non-profit program that provides aid to low- and/or fixed-income families in need, will greet patrons at the gates in an effort to collect non-perishable canned goods.
Saratoga 2011 season passes will be available for purchase at the Grandstand Customer Service Center. The passes, $75 for clubhouse admission and $35 for grandstand, are good for the entire 40-day Saratoga meet, including Travers (gr. I) Day on Saturday, Aug, 27.