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Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:03

A Friendly Guide to the 2012 Travers Festival

By | Sports

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The highlight of every Thoroughbred racing season in Saratoga Springs is the “Mid-Summer Derby” $1,000,000 Travers Stakes, traditionally held the last Saturday in August since 1864. For an event as big and historic as this, the city of Saratoga Springs and the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce will hold the annual Travers Festival beginning August 18 and culminates with the 143rd running of the Grade 1 Travers Stakes.


Saturday, August 18:

The festival will begin August 18, starting with the first of 10 graded stakes to be held this week. Up first is the $600,000 Grade 1 Alabama for 3-year old fillies. Three out of the last four winners of this race would go on to be named Champion 3-year-old filly. The field is said to be wide open this year, as seven fillies vie to bolster their championship resumes with a victory. Post time is 1 p.m. and the race will be the tenth on an eleven race card.

Sunday, August 19:

Beginning August 19 and running through August 23 is the Travers 1864 Restaurant Week where you can dine on a select three-course meal at any number of participating restaurants for the fixed price of $18.64. The price is a tribute to the first year of the Travers Stakes, which was held in 1864. This restaurant week isn’t strictly confined to Saratoga Springs, as restaurants from Albany, Lake George and many others will be involved. For a complete list of participating restaurants, visit www.nyra.com/saratoga/restaurantweek.shtml.

The third giveaway day at Saratoga Race Course is scheduled for August 19, and with every paid admission guests will receive a collectable 2012 Saratoga pilsner glass while supplies last. Those in attendance can also catch the $200,000 Grade 2 Woodford Reserve Lake Placid for 3-year-old fillies. Post time is scheduled for 1 p.m.

Wednesday, August 22:

The race course returns from its regular Tuesday intermission on Wednesday, August 22, in a really “cool” way. Racing fans can enter the annual Ice Cream Eating Contest, sponsored by Stewart’s Shops. Contestants can sign up near the jockey silks room and are broken down into the three categories of kids, teens and adults. The winners in each category, aka the one who eats the most ice cream, will be the lucky recipients of – you guessed it – gift cards for even more Stewart’s ice cream to be enjoyed when their headaches subside.

Thursday, August 23:

It wouldn’t be a party in Saratoga without a fancy gala event and that is exactly what’s happening the evening of Thursday, August 23 as the Official Party to the Travers Stakes returns for the 12th time. This year, a decadent outdoor cocktail party will be held sponsored by Macy’s. Guests can expect wild beverages and extravagant food options while enjoying music and dancing the night away to the New York Players. Tickets to the event are $175 and $125 for guests under 30. Proceeds from the party go toward the Backstretch Employee Service Team (B.E.S.T.) and the Times Union Hope Fund. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (518) 584-6200, ext. 4233.

Friday, August 24:

By Friday, August 24, the anticipation for the Travers will be approaching a fever pitch. To occupy your time, visit the backyard area of Saratoga Race Course for the 15th Annual Battle of the Brews. This event offers thirsty adults a chance to sample some of the area’s finest micro-brewed beers from noon – 4 p.m. Proceeds from the event will benefit the American Red Cross’ Adirondack Saratoga Chapter. For ticket information, call (518) 792-6545.

Later that evening, the celebration goes citywide. The Travers Eve Party happens all throughout downtown Saratoga Springs and includes music and entertainment; face painting for the kids and much more. The leading jockeys of the 2012 meet at Saratoga Race Course will be holding an autograph session from 7-8 p.m. The Travers Eve Party in downtown Saratoga Springs will run from 7-10 p.m.

Saturday, August 25:

Finally, Saturday, August 25, is the day this whole celebration is based around. Travers Day at Saratoga Race Course is an experience in itself. Gates open at 7 a.m. for the early birds in the picnic areas. Post time is scheduled for 11:45 a.m. Before the running of the Travers, three other graded stakes races are scheduled for the undercard, including the Grade 1 Foxwood’s King’s Bishop, the Grade 1 Test and the Grade 2 Ballston Spa.

Then, it’s showtime! The festival officially draws to a close with the 143rd running of the $1,000,000 Travers Stakes. The traditional one-and-a-quarter-mile race will be one of the biggest races for 3-year-olds all summer. Another chapter will be written in the tradition of the Travers canoe, which displays the colors of the winning horse’s stable until the next year’s Travers champion is crowned.

Travers is much more than just a race, it’s a celebration of the people, the venue and the horses that make Saratoga Springs such a special place every summer.

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