When the festival was first announced at a press conference at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame back in April, the event was billed as a way to keep the racing season going in Saratoga for a few more weeks. The organizers had hoped to bring upward of 10,000 or so tourists and steeplechase fans to Saratoga for the event, and provide the city with a second wave of revenue following the Thoroughbred racing season.
“We are all disappointed as so many people spent considerable time this past year in a valiant effort to create the Steeplechase Festival at Saratoga,” said Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce. “The good news is that we’ve developed a solid plan for next year. We’ve identified the vendors required to make this a huge success and we have found there is tremendous sponsor support.”
“In organizing the myriad of details to pull it off, we simply ran out of time to pre-sell enough tickets to ensure that our partner charities would receive contributions after the event,” continued Shimkus. “We feel it’s unfair to everyone to risk running an event in 2012 that could lose money when we can move it to 2013 and be successful. We’ve decided it is better to be patient and to do this right.”
The Steeplechase Festival at Saratoga was anticipating four steeplechase races with purses totaling $100,000, including the $50,000 Steeplechase Cup. There was also a non-jumping race planned for the turf course.
By postponing the festival’s start, organizers will also be able to advertise the event as part of Saratoga’s upcoming 150th anniversary of Thoroughbred racing.
The festival wasn’t just about the steeplechases, as dozens of events were planned around Saratoga Race Course, including trolley rides around the main track, giveaways, an all-day music festival, vendor village, horse and carriage rides, tailgating and allowing sponsors access to the infield at Saratoga for the first time in many years.
Despite taking place at the Saratoga Race Course, pari-mutuel wagering would not have been allowed during the festival.
All of the money so far received for this year’s cancelled event will be refunded and the National Steeplechase Association (NSA) will contact sponsors to see if they are still interested for 2013.
Shimkus added that the goal for the 2013 festival will be to have event planning completed by the end March, so they can work on selling advance tickets from April all the way through racing season.