(Edited press release from the New York Racing Association)
The 29th annual open house at Saratoga racecourse, scheduled for Sunday, July 26, will include five races -- four steeplechase races and one turf race -- presented by the National Steeplechase Association.
Presented by the New York Racing Association, the annual open house will be held from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and will feature carnival games, lively music, giant inflatables, circus shows, a pet walk, handicapping seminars and an array of food and beverages -- all to benefit local charities. Admission and parking are free.
The National Steeplechase Association will get a jump on the racing season, presenting five races - four jump races and a turf race – along with a special luncheon on the dining terrace and box area for race sponsors and patrons of the event. There is no pari-mutuel wagering on these races, which get underway at 1:30 p.m., 2:05 p.m., 2:40p.m., 3:15 p.m., and 3:50 p.m.
The Islip Horsemen’s Association Long Island Drill Team team 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.
The open house will include the sixth annual mascot race, which pits area sports team’s mascots against one another in a one-of-a-kind race. Veteran runner Rowdy the River Rat and first timers Spike the Albany Firebird and Phlex the Adirondack Phantom will race tail for tail down the main track. Additional area mascots are expected to join the competition.
While the mascots race on the main track, patrons can bring their pets for a leisurely stroll in the backyard. The Best in Show Pet Walk will take place at open house near the Union Avenue gate from Noon to 2:30 p.m. Pet owners are encouraged to donate $5 to the Classroom Enrichment Fund, which is dedicated to helping local schools receive newspapers and other learning tools in their classrooms.
After making its debut appearance last year, the Children’s Museum of Science and Technology will again make a stop at open house bringing its educational and explorative Leaping Lizards and Rocking Reptiles exhibit to the Spa. Featuring shows under the Carousel at 11:15 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:45 p.m. and 3 p.m., kids and families will have a chance to meet these cold-blooded creatures while learning all about their behaviors, habitats and lifestyles.
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 try their skills in the inflatable obstacle course, the Adrenaline Rush.
Captain Squeeze & The Zydeco Moshers, a strolling swing jazz band, will make their way through the track playing jazz favorites, while Mark Rabin performs cover songs underneath the bandstand from such artists as Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Elvis Presley and The Beatles.
The open house will also offer patrons a glimpse into the inner workings of the track with free backstretch tours. The tours will run every half hour beginning at 11 a.m. at the clubhouse entrance.
The day's activities will also include handicapping seminars in the Paddock Pavilion with handicappers Nick Kling and Tom Amello from the Troy Record’s “Track Facts” and Julie Hoxsie, a Thoroughbred breeder and trainer and the associate producer of Off Track Betting’s "Down the Stretch" program.
Among the acitivities to benefit charities, visitors can have their photo taken and laminated on a 3”x 4” photo magnet, available for a minimal donation to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Upstate New York/Vermont Chapter.
Again this year, the Saratoga Economic Opportunity Council, a non-profit program that provides aid to low- and/or fixed-income families in crisis, will greet patrons at the gates in an effort to collect non-perishable canned goods. Each patron who donates two non-perishable canned items will receive a commemorative 2009 NYRA calendar, while supplies last.
All proceeds from food and beverages benefit local charities and non-profit organizations such as Living Resources, the Saratoga-Wilton BPOE, the Jewish Community Center, the Children's Museum of Saratoga, the Racing City Chorus, the Brookside Museum, Saratoga EOC, the Saratoga Rowing Association and the Knights of Columbus.
Season passes for the upcoming 2009 Saratoga Race Course season will be available for purchase at the grandstand customer service center. The passes are $75 for clubhouse and $35 for grandstand. The passes are good for the entire 36-day Saratoga meet, including Travers Day, Saturday, August 29.
For up-to-date information on open house and other special events, please visit www.nyra.com/saratogaevents.shtml.