SARATOGA SPRINGS — The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) announced a series of new and returning attractions, entertainment and events for the 2021 season at Saratoga Race Course, which begins Thursday, and continues through September 6.
Gates open at 11 a.m. each day, including weekends, with the exception of Runhappy Travers Day, August 28. Post time for the first race on Opening Day is 1:05 p.m.
“In addition to world-class thoroughbred racing, fans this season will once again enjoy an outstanding lineup of entertainment and events designed to enhance an afternoon at Saratoga Race Course,” said NYRA Senior Director of Communications Pat McKenna. “This will be a summer to remember and we very much look forward to welcoming fans back to Saratoga for a reunion like no other.”
The 2021 Saratoga summer meet will include the following events and happenings:
∫ Opening Day, presented by Runhappy: July 15
Saratoga Race Course will welcome the return of fans during Runhappy Opening Weekend, July 15-18, that will begin with a day-long celebration including a live musical performance from Saratoga Springs-based Soul Session. All fans who show proof of vaccination via the New York State Excelsior Pass will receive free Grandstand general admission.
∫ Health Care Heroes and First Responders Day, presented by CDPHP: July 16
NYRA will recognize the contributions of health care workers and first responders during the Covid-19 pandemic with a day in their honor, presented by CDPHP. All health care workers and first responders will receive free Grandstand admission with proper ID. The afternoon will include a special trackside performance by the New York State Police Pipes and Drums.
∫ Fashion Contest: July 17
Racing fans will be invited to celebrate the tradition of style in thoroughbred racing with a new Fashion Contest with categories for Best Hat, Best Dressed Woman and Best Dressed Man. The event will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Whispering Angel Rosé display near the Travers Bar, presented by Moit Hennessy. All fans 21 years of age and older will enjoy complimentary samples of Chateau d’Esclans Whispering Angel Rosé, while supplies last.
∫ Berkshire Bank Family Sundays: Every Sunday beginning July 18
Berkshire Bank Family Sundays will feature a wide variety of free family-friendly activities, games, attractions and educational activities each Sunday at the Berkshire Bank Family Zone.
∫ New York Thoroughbred Aftercare Day: July 21
NYRA joins the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and New York Thoroughbred Breeders in hosting the inaugural New York Thoroughbred Aftercare Day. Highlighted by the Rick Violette Stakes, the day will pay tribute to an array of organizations involved in finding new homes and careers for retired racehorses.
∫ Military Appreciation Day: July 22
Saratoga Race Course will pay tribute to active military members and veterans in appreciation of their sacrifice and service to our nation. All veterans and active-duty military will receive free Grandstand admission with military ID.
∫ Lustgarten Foundation Day: July 24
Saratoga will honor the legacy of trainer Dominic Galluscio with a day to benefit The Lustgarten Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to advance scientific and medical research related to pancreatic cancer.
∫ Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund Awareness Day: July 31
Saratoga Race Course will unite with racetracks across the country with autograph signings and photo opportunities as part of the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund (PDJF) Day Across America.
∫ Fabulous Fillies Day: August 5
Saratoga Race Course will honor local breast cancer survivors while supporting To Life!, a Capital Region non-profit organization which provides personalized breast cancer education and support services.
∫ Whitney Day: August 7
The day’s card will be headlined by one of the meet’s signature races: the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney. Completing the trio of Grade 1s on Whitney Day will be the $500,000 Longines Test and the $1 million Saratoga Derby Invitational, the second jewel of the Turf Triple series in its first running with Grade 1 status. Gates open at 11 a.m.
∫ Saratoga Cooler Bag Giveaway, presented by Saratoga Casino Hotel: Sunday, August 15
Fans will enjoy the first giveaway of the season – a Saratoga cooler bag, presented by Saratoga Casino Hotel. Free with paid admission, while supplies last.
∫ New York Showcase Day: August 27
Runhappy Travers weekend will kick off with New York Showcase Day, featuring six stakes for state-breds worth a combined $1.15 million. The lucrative card is headlined by the $250,000 Albany, a nine-furlong test for sophomores. In honor of the $150,000 West Point Handicap, presented by Trustco Bank, the afternoon will feature a special performance from cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
∫ Runhappy Travers Day: August 28
The 152nd renewal of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers will be the centerpiece of a blockbuster day of racing. The 2021 Runhappy Travers Day card will include seven stakes, including six Grade 1 events, offering $4.6 million in total purse money with automatic berths in the Breeders’ Cup to the winner of the Grade 1, $750,000 Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer, the Grade 1, $600,000 Personal Ensign and the Grade 1, $500,000 Ketel One Ballerina. The Runhappy Travers Day card will also include the Grade 1, $600,000 Forego and the Grade 1, $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial for 3-year-olds. Rounding out the signature day at the Spa is the Grade 2, $400,000 Ballston Spa. Gates open at 7 a.m. on Runhappy Travers Day.
∫ Saratoga Fleece Hoodie: September 5
Fans will enjoy the second giveaway of the season – a Saratoga fleece hoodie. Free with paid admission, while supplies last.
∫ Closing Day: September 6
The 2021 meet will come to a close with the traditional final feature race, the Grade 1, $300,000 Hopeful for 2-year-olds, which affords racing fans a preview of potential standouts in next year’s Triple Crown series and Runhappy Travers.
Season-long daily events and activities will include the following:
∫ Berkshire Bank Family Zone
Fans will enjoy 40 days of the Berkshire Bank Family Zone, an interactive play area for children located near Gate A, which will be complemented by the return of Berkshire Bank Family Sundays. The popular weekly festival will include free games, attractions and educational activities each Sunday of the season inside the Berkshire Bank Family Zone.
∫ Saratoga Fashion Days
Fashion Saturdays, which was previously held once each week, will expand to a 40-day series of pop-up boutiques featuring stylish clothing, accessories and jewelry for women and men. The Saratoga Fashion Days boutiques will be located in the following areas: Lifestyles of Saratoga across from the Jockey Silks Room Porch; Miss Scarlett, Saratoga Rocks and the Winning Silks Collection near The Stretch; and Bumble B Boutique near the paddock mutuels building (weekends only).
∫ Volcan Tequila Summer Music Stage
Fans will enjoy live music performances each afternoon of the season from popular local and regional bands at the Volcan Tequila Summer Music Stage. Strolling entertainment from Saratoga mainstays Reggie’s Red Hot Feetwarmers and the Red Hot Dancers, amongst other acts, will also be a regular feature.
Fans will not be required to provide proof of vaccination for admission to Saratoga Race Course. Non-vaccinated individuals will be required to wear a facial covering during their day at Saratoga Race Course, in accordance with federal CDC guidance.
NYRA reserves the right to amend admission protocols based on updates and adjustments by New York State.
The 40-day summer meet at historic Saratoga Race Course will feature 76 stakes worth $21.5 million in total purses highlighted by the 152nd renewal of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers on August 28 and the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney on August 7, as the anchors of two of the most prestigious racing days in North America.
Following the four-day Runhappy Opening Weekend from July 15 through July 18, racing will be conducted five days a week, Wednesdays through Sundays, with the exception of the final week, when the meet will conclude on Labor Day.