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Spend a Fun Day at the Races in Saratoga Springs

posted by Teresa Farrell at 2018-08-01 20:45:00



Each summer, the town of Saratoga Springs  in Upstate New York’s Capital Region  comes alive with thousands of visitors gearing up for horse racing season. And that’s for good reason—if you’ve never been, a trip to the track is an experience not to be missed.


The Saratoga Race Course, and the oldest thoroughbred racing track and one of the oldest sports venues in the United States, has been one of horse racing’s crown jewels since it opened its doors in 1863. It’s such an icon that Sports Illustrated named it one of the world’s greatest sporting venues. And it’s shaped the personality of the city of Saratoga Springs in a way that’s made this place synonymous with world-class horse racing, known near and far. Each summer, in late July, the games begin when the track opens for its seven-week season. Racing enthusiasts from near and far don their fanciest hats; they line up to claim their spots and place their bets, and then it’s off to the races, just as it has been for more than 150 years.


But things aren’t too fancy to make room for a little fun. Take those hats, for example; though elegant headwear is still traditional, you’re just as likely to find a fun, silly twist on the tradition perched atop a racegoer’s head. And all are welcome at the annual Saratoga Hat Contest, held opening week each year and is open to all ages as a way to kick off the season’s festivities with a smile.


Throughout track season, races run multiple times a week, except on Tuesdays, when there is no live racing. There are plenty of popular events, giveaway days, and weekends at the track, but maybe none quite as beloved as Travers Day, when the $12.5 million Travers Stakes  runs at the race course. Generally held on the last Saturday in August, Travers Day is beloved by racing enthusiasts and casual visitors alike, and is the reason for the weeklong, city-wide Travers Festival  as well. For the whole week before Travers Day, music, parties, restaurant week, special events, and plenty of racing-related activities take over the town, bringing everything from ice cream eating contests to wine tastings to entertain the crowds.


Of course, you don’t have to spend all your time at the track to enjoy a trip to Saratoga Springs. An upscale, inviting place, with a bustling downtown, the city offers plenty of shopping and dining, nightlife, attractions and activities, and more. Live music and other entertainment takes center stage at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, an outdoor amphitheater where everything from big-name bands to traveling ballets perform throughout the the summer season. And it’s situated right within the beauty of nature at Saratoga Spa State Park, which is more than what the name implies, with museums, a spa, a variety of public pools, a golf course, and more in addition to the traditional offerings you’d expect from a park.

PHOTO CREDITS

Horse Haven Track 1863 Sign photo credit Doug Kerr
Takeoff from Gate photo credit Oliver Mallich
Two Horses Neck and Neck photo credit Banamine
Racing past striped pole photo credit Matt Wade
Race Course Entrance photo credit Peter

 
 
posted at: 2018-08-01 20:45:00, last updated: 2020-03-17 20:35:16

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