SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Racing fans will take to the streets of downtown Saratoga Springs to herald a double day spectacular of racing with a special party that will usher in a pair of back to back blockbuster events at Saratoga Race Course: the Travers Stakes and the return of Rachel Alexandra.
Presented by the New York Racing Association and the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, the inaugural Travers Eve party will be held on Broadway in downtown Saratoga Springs on Friday, August 27 from 7 to 10 p.m.
The evening of excitement and anticipation will feature a wide variety of live music, entertainment, food and drink, and family-friendly activities designed to celebrate the oldest major stakes race in the country for 3-year olds – the Grade 1, $1 million Travers Stakes – which will run for the 141st time at Saratoga Race Course on Saturday, August 28. Fans will have double the reason to rejoice when reigning Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra returns to the site of one of her most celebrated victories the very next day for the Grade 1, $300,000 Personal Ensign Stakes on Sunday, August 29.
The Travers Eve party will be modeled, in part, after the highly successful “Hats off to Saratoga” and “Final Stretch” festivals that take place downtown at the commencement and conclusion of the Saratoga racing season.
“The Travers Stakes is one of the most historic and well-known events in thoroughbred racing and we feel fortunate that the Capital Region welcomes its return each year with such a warm embrace and sense of excitement,” said NYRA President & CEO Charlie Hayward. “Such a highly acclaimed event deserves a celebration worthy of its stature and we can think of no better place to stage it than in beautiful downtown Saratoga Springs. This year’s inaugural party on Travers Eve will also double as a homecoming for 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra who will make her highly anticipated return on Sunday in the running of the Personal Ensign Stakes. We encourage all racing fans to celebrate this spectacular weekend by gathering with family and friends in Saratoga on the eve of this exciting double day spectacular.”
“I like to think of this initiative as if we are working with a 141-year old start-up operation. This means we must celebrate the historical significance of the Travers Stakes while also delivering something fun and innovative to generate added interest in coming to Saratoga for the Travers Festival Weekend,” said Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus. “That’s why we’re combining a great weekend of horse racing at the Saratoga Race Course with a downtown festival featuring a horse shaped “track bandz” give-away, roaming entertainment, Mardi Gras beads, and the chance to meet and collect the autographs of some of the world’s best jockeys. This is a perfect combination of old and new with just enough uniqueness to make visiting Saratoga for the Travers Festival weekend a must-attend event for everyone.”
Fans will have their pen ready when given the opportunity to meet Saratoga’s world-class jockeys during a special autograph session at the Saratoga Downtowner parking lot on Broadway from 7 to 8 p.m. Leading jockey John Velazquez will be accompanied by several other riders with mounts in the Travers to meet fans and sign autographs. Fans will receive a collector’s Saratoga Race Course Jockey Autograph Book, sponsored by Price Chopper, which features the top 12 jockeys from 2009.
Visitors of all ages are invited to make their way down Broadway to various retailers to pick up free commemorative Travers Stakes items. Special horse-shaped “Track Bandz” for kids will be available at Impressions; G. Willikers; Celtic Treasures; The Candy Company; Ben and Jerry’s; Plum Dandy; Soave Faire; and Zola Kids. Adults will get in on Travers fever by donning Saratoga Race Course Mardi Gras beads with a medallion featuring the Travers Stakes logo, available at Hattie’s; Gaffney’s; Lillian’s; Circus Café; the Olde Bryan Inn; Wheatfield’s; Ben and Jerry’s; and The Parting Glass. One item per person while supplies last.
Musical act The Feetwarmers will stroll up and down Broadway, joined by Sparkles the Tall Juggler, to provide family-friendly entertainment. In addition, there will be live performances from a number of local bands at several Broadway establishments.
Live music will also take place at a number of Saratoga’s favorite restaurants and venues including: Rick Bolton and Jeff Walton at Gaffney’s; Joe Gitto & Friends at the Mouzon House; the Franklin Micare Duo at the Inn at Saratoga; Gravity at The Irish Times; Al & Kathy Bain at the Olde Bryan Inn; The Refrigerators at Saratoga Gaming and Raceway; and Michael Panza and Chris Dollard with special guest Garland Nelson of Soul Session at Panza’s Restaurant. Cover charges may apply.
The Travers Eve party is one element of the 15th annual Travers Festival, a nine-day celebration leading up to the “Mid-Summer Derby”. Presented by the New York Lottery, the Travers Festival kicks off on Saturday, August 21 and continues through Sunday, August 29. In addition to raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity, the festival offers a variety of entertainment for the Spa City community and visitors, all in celebration of Saratoga’s crown jewel and the summer’s biggest and most anticipated race.
On Saturday, August 28, the gates of Saratoga Race Course will open at 7 a.m. for the 141st running of the Grade 1, $1 million Travers Stakes as the sport’s top 3-year-olds clash in one of the most historic stakes races in North America at the classic distance of a mile and a quarter.
The Travers Day undercard will include the Grade 1, $250,000 King’s Bishop for three-year-old sprinters at seven furlongs; the Grade 1, $250,000 Ballerina for fillies and mares at seven furlongs; the Grade 2, $200,000 Ballston Spa Handicap for fillies and mares at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf; and the Grade 3, $100,000 Victory Ride for three-year-old fillies at six furlongs. Post time is 11:35 a.m.
The weekend racing double day spectacular continues on Sunday, August 29 when reigning Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra returns to the scene of one of her most scintillating triumphs for the Grade 1, $300,000 Personal Ensign Stakes. Having capped her championship season last year at Saratoga with an electrifying win over older males in the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes, the 4-year-old Rachel Alexandra will be facing fillies and mares in the Personal Ensign, which will be her first Grade 1 start of 2010. Post time is 1 p.m.