The familiar gates
of Saratoga Race Course will open five days early as The New York Racing
Association, Inc. (NYRA) prepares to host its annual pre-season preview party,
the 32nd annual Open House. A Saratoga
tradition held prior to the start of racing season at North
America’s most historic thoroughbred racetrack, Open House
returns to kick off a full day of fun and attractions on Sunday, July 15, to
benefit dozens of local non-profit organizations.
Saratoga's Open House offers a free sneak-peek
into the popular summer meeting with a full day of games, activities, live
music, food, pony rides, behind-the-scenes tours, mascot races, handicapping seminars,
and non-wagering horse racing. The 32nd annual Open House will be held from 11 a.m. to 4
p.m. Admission and parking are free.
The National Steeplechase Association will get a jump on the racing
season by presenting four hurdle races and one turf race that will serve as
qualifiers for the regular Saratoga
meet. No pari-mutuel wagering is available on these races which get underway
every 45 minutes beginning at 1 p.m.
“The Open House event not only
welcomes people to the summer Saratoga
season at the track,” said NYRA President and COO Ellen
McClain, “but is also intended to generate much needed
funds for worthy local charities. We are proud of our community partnerships
and ability to serve as an engine to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars
for nonprofits over the entire racing season, beginning with this signature
Designed to support community organizations, Saratoga’s Open House raises nearly
$15,000 every year for local not-for-profit groups through the sale of deeply
discounted food and beverages. Visitors can choose from a variety of tasty
treats, including hamburgers, fried dough, sausage and peppers, and ice cream
sandwiches. All proceeds benefit area charitable organizations such as the
Knights of Columbus; Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York; Racing City Chorus;
Saratoga Rowing; Saratoga Elks; Watervliet Civic Center; Brookside Museum; St.
Clements School; Saratoga EOC; Jewish Community Center; and Saratoga
The Saratoga Economic Opportunity Council, a non-profit program that
provides aid to low- and/or fixed-income families in need, will greet patrons
at the gates in an effort to collect non-perishable canned goods.
Additionally, the American Red Cross is holding a blood drive at the
Saratoga Race Course during the Open House from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. through its Traveling Donor Center.
All presenting donors will receive a coupon for a free carton of ice cream or
sherbet, redeemable at any participating Friendly’s restaurant.
New this year to the entertainment
lineup is The Puppet People, offering a fun festival of frolics called Puppet
Potpourri, which is a puppet variety show that showcases trick marionettes,
mouth puppets, rod puppets and a show full of laughs for all ages. They will
provide three performances, taking place at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Also new this year, locally-known equine artist and art instructor Mary
Francis Millet will be on hand with tips and a water color demonstration for
fans participating in the second annual Travers-themed poster contest. Millet
will join the staff at the Tiny Tots Tea Room booth to work with kids on their
creations. All materials will be provided. The grand prize winner will
have the opportunity to present a trophy in the winner’s circle as part
of a named race during the summer meet. Second and third place contestants will
also receive prizes, including birthday parties and play passes to the Tiny
Tots Tea Room.
Another highlight of the day for horse lovers is the Islip
Horsemen’s Association Long Island Drill Team. The team, which has
participated in various distinguished events including the Macy’s
Thanksgiving Day Parade, 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 12:15 p.m.
Open House will include the ninth-annual mascot race, which pits famed
mascots from local sports teams and well-known brands against one another in a
one-of-a-kind race down the main track. Post time is noon.
The Children’s Museum
of Science and Technology
will make a stop at the Open House with its educational and explorative Leaping
Lizards and Rocking Reptiles exhibit. Kids and families will have a chance to
meet these fascinating cold-blooded creatures, while learning about their
behaviors, habitats and lifestyles. These captivating demonstrations can be
enjoyed under the Carousel at 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:45 p.m. and 3 p.m.
The backyard will play host to a variety of activities including pony
rides, inflatables, face painting, caricatures and a petting zoo.
Open House will also feature live music from the strolling swing band
Captain Squeeze & the Zydeco Moshers.
Patrons can get a glimpse into the inner workings of the track with free backstretch tours every half hour beginning at 11 a.m.
at the Clubhouse entrance.
For a small fee, visitors can have their day at the races commemorated
with a special photo laminated on a 3”x 4” photo magnet. All
proceeds benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The following organizations will have information and activity booths
displayed at Open House: Saratoga Hospital Guild; Saratoga EOC; The National
Center for Missing and Exploited Children; Southern Adirondack Independent
Living Center; Center for Donation and Transplant; HOPE (Homes for Orphaned
Pets Exist); Junior League of Schenectady & Saratoga Counties; Yaddo Garden
Association; and St. Mary's School.
Fans will also have the opportunity
to purchase a 2012 Saratoga season pass at the Grandstand Customer Service
Center during Open House. The passes, $75 for clubhouse admission and $35 for
grandstand, are good for the entire 40-day Saratoga meet, including Travers Day on
Saturday, August 25. Season passes will be available at the Saratoga Reserved
Seating Office starting Wednesday, July 11 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and are
also available by mail.