Although the Saratoga Race Course opened its season the earliest it has since the late 1800s, Opening Weekend was a success. The 105,690 visitors (down from 109,395 in 2018) took part in a myriad of events, including the first stakes of the season, the opening of a new venue, and fun activities. Learn more about what happened during Opening Weekend and get ready for Week 2!
Opening Weekend Highlights
The 1863 Club Opens
The 1863 Club, a brand new venue complete with a banquet room and luxury suites, opened its doors over the weekend. The building features three stories and its expansive windows overlook the Clubhouse turn. “Legends Hall,” located on the second floor, is a group event room that seats up to 100 people and is offered in partnership with Encore Boston Harbor. The Boston-area gaming resort will also be presenting two races later in the season, the Saratoga Oaks and the Forego.
Winners Crowned in Opening Weekend Stakes
The all-sources handle from opening weekend surpassed that of last year, coming in at over $73 million. On Opening Day, Comical won the Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes. On Saturday, Chad Brown’s Sistercharlie won the Grade 1 Diana Stakes for the second year in a row, with two of Brown’s other horses, Rushing Fall and Homerique, coming in second and third.
The 28th Annual Hat Contest
Visitors donned their best hats to compete in the Track’s yearly contest. The title of “Uniquely Saratoga” went to Kara Marsden of Taunton, MA, while Maurita Smith from Fort Johnson took first place for “Fashionably Saratoga.” In the “Kreative Kids” contest, 11-year-old Kiarra Seymour of Saratoga Springs was crowned the winner.
Friday featured a race named for New York Yankees player Mariano Rivera. The new National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee was in attendance and honored with jockey silks decorated with his Yankees jersey number.
On Saturday, local American Idol finalist Madison VanDenberg performed for the crowd.
Week 2 At The Track
What to Expect This Week, 7/17-7/21
Highlights for this week include Saratoga Visit Day, which will be held in the Coca-Cola Saratoga Pavilion and feature exhibits from local attractions, such as the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, Saratoga Automobile Museum, National Museum of Dance, Saratoga Springs History Museum, Yaddo Gardens, and the Saratoga Arts District. The event aims to show visitors everything Saratoga Springs has to offer.
Weekly events, such as Taste NY: Wine & Spirits and Fashion Saturdays will also take place. Sample locally-made wine and spirits while taking in live music every Thursday and Friday, and start off the weekend by browsing the merchandise from local businesses on Saturday.
Cap off the week with Berkshire Bank Family Adventure Sundays, where children can enjoy games and attractions. All three events take place at the Coca-Cola Saratoga Pavilion.
This week, visitors can check out the Moon Landing Anniversary celebration, in partnership with Schenectady’s Museum of Innovation and Science, for fun astronomy-themed activities located near Horse Sense.
Visitors can also experience the new 1863 Club this Sunday during Brunch and Bubbly at the Rail. Admission is $75 and reservations can be made through the NYRA Box Office.
A summary of Week 2 highlights:
- Wednesday: Saratoga Visit Day and the Rick Violette (formerly known as The Rockville Centre at Belmont)
- Thursday: The Stillwater, Taste NY: Wine & Spirits, and Low Roller Challenge
- Friday: The Lake George and Taste NY: Wine & Spirits
- Saturday: The Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks, the Moon Landing Anniversary Celebration, and Fashion Saturdays
- Sunday: The Shuvee Handicap, Brunch and Bubbly at the Rail at the 1863 Club, Low Roller Challenge, and Berkshire Bank Family Adventure Saturdays