It’s almost August, which means the Travers Stakes is just around the corner. The Saratoga Race Course will celebrate its 150th Runhappy Travers with fun events in Downtown leading up to an exciting day of racing on Saturday, August 24.
On Friday, July 26, NYRA officials, Mayor Meg Kelly, local business leaders, and six-time Travers-winning jockey Javier Castellano came together on Broadway to announce plans for the 150th Travers festivities and reveal the official banner. Starting today, July 30, Broadway will be decked out in almost two dozen pole banners celebrating the milestone.
Activities will continue to spill over from the Track and onto Broadway. “Travers Day is always a highlight of the summer racing season and this year will be even more memorable as we mark the 150th anniversary of this historic race,” NYRA CEO & President Dave O’Rourke said in a statement. “We are excited to partner with the city and community to extend our celebration beyond the track gates and into downtown.”
Local businesses will compete in a racing-themed window decorating contest, held by the Saratoga Springs Downtown Business Association (DBA). NYRA, DBA, and Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce judges will select the three winning businesses to be honored at the Travers post-position draw. Visitors to Broadway can enjoy each of the creative displays, where they’ll also find forms (through Monday, August 19) to fill out for the chance to win two seats in the Clubhouse on Travers Day.
Racing fans can also meet jockeys and get their autographs in Downtown on Tuesday, August 20, with proceeds going to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF). The location is yet to be announced, and there will also be other attractions. “Besides the chance to meet up with Saratoga’s leading riders,” explained Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus in a statement, “the Chamber will work with our members to offer additional live entertainment to create a fun and festive celebration of the Travers 150th downtown.”
The Travers, the country’s oldest 3-year-old stakes, was also the Saratoga Race Course’s first race, held on August 2, 1864 and named after one of the Track’s founders. Races had previously been held in 1863 at the Saratoga Trotting Course (the present Horse Haven). There have only been six years — scattered between the 1890s and and 1910s — when the famous race wasn’t held. Past winners have included Man o’ War, Easy Goer, Native Dancer, Alydar, and Whirlaway.
The Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers Stakes will headline an afternoon of important races, along with five other Grade 1 Stakes and one Grade 2. Tickets can be purchased through the NYRA box office and Ticketmaster.